Middle: Eric Hewitt, Right: Brian Kugel

Middle: Eric Hewitt, Right: Brian Kugel

Winona State University employee Brian Kugel has received the Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve Patriot Award for providing National Guard member Eric Hewitt with support during an impending deployment.

The Patriot Award recognizes superiors and bosses who support an employee in the National Guard or Reserve. The award reflects the efforts made to support service members by providing a flexible schedule before and after deployment, granting leave of absences for training and drills, and general support.

Hewitt worked in software deployment for Kugel in User Services last year when he received a letter saying that he would be deployed to Africa in March to assist with efforts during the Ebola outbreak. Kugel was flexible with scheduling when Hewitt had to attend drills, and helped assure Hewitt of job security upon his return.

“He’s the only boss I’ve ever had who has been so supportive and willing to work with me. As a student and employee, it makes me want to work for him until I graduate and possibly continue to work here after,” Hewitt said.

Kugel said that he worked hard to accommodate Hewitt because he knew any sacrifice he would have to make in the office would be nothing compared to what Hewitt was doing for our country.

In the end, Hewitt’s deployment was canceled, and he was able to return to a normal academic and work schedule, but the experience had an impact on both Hewitt and Kugel.

“I’ve really considered it a milestone in my career,” said Kugel. “I’ve been working here for ten years, and I couldn’t think of anything I’ve done here that I’m more proud of.”

WSU will also receive ESGR’s Above and Beyond Award, given to employers that have had at least one of their supervisors recognized with a Patriot Award and who have signed or agree to sign a statement of support for national guard and reserve employees.

For more information contact University Communications at 507-457-5024

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Emily Dean

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