Brenau President Ed Schrader receives the Seven Seals Award from the Georgia Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve from Maj. Gen. David Bockel (Ret.), left, and Major General Joe Jarrard at the organizations Annual Awards Banquet in Marietta. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Brenau President Ed Schrader receives the Seven Seals Award from the Georgia Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve from Maj. Gen. David Bockel (Ret.), left, and Major General Joe Jarrard at the organizations Annual Awards Banquet in Marietta. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau Receives Seven Seals Award for Support of Guard and Reserve

Aug. 15, 2017
Kristen Oliver

ATLANTA (Aug. 15, 2017) – The U.S. Department of Defense organization that nurtures the support of military reservists from their private- and public-sector employers presented Brenau University on Friday, Aug. 11, with a Seven Seals Award for its encouragement and support for reservists.

Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Melissa Tavilla, who is human resource adviser for the 134th Air Refueling Wing at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base near Knoxville, Tennessee, nominated the university for the prestigious Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve award. Tavilla is also office manager and administrator for the Brenau physical therapy doctoral program in Gainesville, Georgia.

“I’m glad that Brenau was recognized with this award,” Tavilla said. “I hope we continue to acknowledge the unique contributions that veterans can add to the classroom and work environment.”

Tavilla, who first came to Brenau as an undergraduate, said she frequently had to ask professors for accommodations for some aspect of her military duty.

“They always worked with me without any difficulty,” she said. “Now that I’ve been an employee for four years while continuing my military service, I can speak for two groups of veterans that Brenau is supportive of men and women of service.”

Tavilla, a 26-year military veteran, completed her undergraduate degree in conflict resolution and legal studies with honors, which earned her the Cora Anderson Hill Award for the Brenau Women’s College graduate with the highest grade point average at the 2015 commencement ceremony. A few months later, she was promoted to the Air National Guard’s highest enlisted rank.

At the ceremony Aug. 11, Brenau President Ed Schrader accepted the Seven Seals Award – named for the collection of emblems of the various U.S. military reserve organizations the ESGR organization represents.

“Brenau University is grateful for this recognition,” said Schrader, “but we are extremely grateful for all our men and women – students, faculty and staff – who serve their country through active military duty and duty in reserves and National Guard units around the country. Just as they are doing their duty to the country, so are we doing our duty by providing any measure of assistance to them that we can provide.”

Maj. Gen. Joe Jarrard, a Gainesville native who serves as Adjutant General of Georgia overseeing the state’s National Guard programs, said following the award ceremony that it is important for all employers in the state to support Guard and Reserve personnel as Brenau does.

“It is especially important because the National Guard personnel live in our state,” Jarrard said. “We have somebody that lives in every county in our state. We are hometown America, and we want the opportunity to make a good living. Those opportunities reside in the companies and institutions right here in our communities. We appreciate Brenau setting a great example and taking care of those that serve.”

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve was established in 1972 to develop and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers.

Recognizing supportive employers is part of ESGR’s mission. These Department of Defense awards honor the sacrifices made by employers year after year.

It is not the first recognition Brenau has received for its support for military personnel. Last year, Tavilla nominated Kathye Light, chair of the physical therapy department, for ESGR’s Patriot Award, which Light received in December. And, the university is ranked one of the Best Colleges for Veterans in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and was designated as a Military Friendly School by Victory Media this year for the third consecutive year.

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