Frank Sasser

Goldsboro Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Frank Sasser, right, accepts a Patriot Award from Jim Lee, a volunteer with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. The award recognized Sasser as a supervisor who went above and beyond in supporting members of the National Guard and Reserve in the workplace.

A Goldsboro Fire Department assistant chief was recognized Monday for his efforts to support members of the North Carolina National Guard and Army Reserve.

Frank Sasser was honored with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award at the Goldsboro City Council’s Monday meeting. The award recognizes “efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide range of measures, including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed,” according to the ESGR website.

Jim Lee, a volunteer with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, presented the award. He read from Sasser’s nomination letter, sent by firefighter Jeremy Peters.

In the letter, Peters said that Sasser routinely prioritized allowing him to fulfill his National Guard duties.

“Over the last 12 years as a Goldsboro firefighter and a soldier officer in the North Carolina Army National Guard, the department has made my service and time needed a priority for staffing purposes,” Peters wrote. “Assistant Chief Frank Sasser inputs my military time for the year on his training calendar prior to approving any employee vacation requests. If there is a short notice training event, school or mission, (Sasser) would make that a priority and bring in off-duty personnel.”

Peters, who could not attend due to a National Guard training, wrote that Sasser had gone above and beyond in making sure that he could fulfill his obligations and praised the fire department as a whole for supporting his family when he leaves.

“Department personnel routinely ask if my family needs anything, whatever,” Peters wrote. “If I am away for extended periods of time, (Sasser), the Goldsboro Fire Department and the city of Goldsboro have been instrumental in my ability to serve in the North Carolina National Guard, and they deserve just as much respect for their assistance as I personally receive for mine.”

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is a small branch of the federal Department of Defense. Lee said that the job of the ESGR is to “keep employers and employees happy with each other” when employees are called off to National Guard or reserve training.

“Usually, most businesses realize that, hey, we’re losing some time with this guy, but in return we’re getting guys who are 25 to 30 years old who show up to work on time that you don’t have to worry about drug use,” he said. “That’s not something you get in the work force all the time.”

Sasser said he was honored to receive the award. Making sure members of the military can do their jobs is a small price for the sacrifices they make, he said.

“They continue to do a job, whether it’s the guard or the reserve or full-time military,” Sasser said. “I always say I’m able to get out and do the things I do because of the sacrifices they make.”

By helping firefighters like Peters leave and fulfill their military duties, the city helps develop its own workforce when those employees return with better training, Lee said.

The Patriot Award specifically recognizes supervisors, and the ESGR gives out hundreds of them each year. The organization also gives out several other awards recognizing businesses, including the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to employers for their outstanding support of employees serving in the guard and reserves.