11:02 AM

Support of Airman and State Farm Employee Earns Manager Patriot Award

The Department of Defense award honors civilian managers for above and beyond support of service member employees.

Imagine being an Air National Guardsman, getting a great new civilian job and finding out a few months in, you’re getting deployed. Talk about stressful.

“Obviously that can be scary. You’ve been at a company for five months and find out you’re leaving for seven months,” Brent Janssen said of his deployment to Texas. “Not everyone really understands what it’s like being in the military.”

Brent’s manager Jim Dabler took it in stride.

“I had full support and understanding from leadership that I made a commitment and they knew that when they hired me,” Brent explained. “Nobody ever complained or had anything negative to say.”

Additional Stressors

Brent, an analyst at State Farm®, was deployed in Texas when he discovered his department and role was changing.

“Jim would call me after work, which was extra hours for him, to communicate what was going on and cut through to what it actually meant. It’s tough not knowing if you’re coming back to something, and I liked what I was doing with my team,” Brent shared.

“That all could have been so much harder. I was away from my family. My wife was here raising three kids, trying to take care of things. That’s already hard enough and then you add these other stressors. The way they handled it calmly made me feel at ease.”

Recognizing positive leadership

“Changes like this can be very difficult and Brent’s situation was definitely heightened because of his deployment,” Jim said. “My No. 1 focus was on my employees and to communicate and listen to where they were emotionally.”

Through all of this, Jim was a constant for Brent – offering support, information and recommendations.

“I wanted to honor Jim in some way for how he went above and beyond to help me,” Brent said.

The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense office that supports part-time military personnel’s relationships with their employer. This can include:

  • Working with businesses to increase awareness of applicable laws to protect service members
  • Developing and promoting supportive work environments
  • Providing assistance in the event of a conflict

The ESGR offers the Patriot Award, a way for service members to nominate managers for their support. Brent thought it would be the perfect way to say thank you.

“When they presented it to me, I was floored,” Jim said. “I didn’t think what I did was any more than what anyone else should do. It means a lot to me.”

Jim attributes his leadership skills to learning from other leaders in the company.

“It stems from the compassion and focus on the customer. What can we do when times are good and when times are difficult? It’s a demonstration of the culture of State Farm I’ve inherited and demonstrate as best as I can.”