West Valley officials celebrate Department of Defense award for support of employees in militaryOct 07, 2019 03:54PM ● By Darrell Kirby
West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow and police sergeant Robert Brinton celebrate West Valley receiving a prestigious Defense Department award for supporting employees who serve part-time in the military. Brinton, an Air Force reservist, nominated the city. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)
By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]
More than a decade ago, West Valley City government made a decision to support its employees who desired to serve in the National Guard and Reserve.
That backing was rewarded as the city was named earlier this year one of just 15 entities in the United States to receive the 2019 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for 2019.
The honor is given to private and public-sector organizations that make financial and other accommodations to allow their employees to give military service to their country.
West Valley City was officially honored at a ceremony at the Pentagon in August, but the city held its own recognition event at City Hall in September.
"This is a very special occasion for West Valley City," Mayor Ron Bigelow told the gathering of city leaders and staff, members of the Utah National Guard and Reserve, and representatives sent by Utah's congressional delegation.
"The city wanted to make sure that those who served in the guard and reserve who were employees of the city were not in any way penalized for their service,” Bigelow said.
He pointed out that the city gives employees the time off they need to serve while still receiving their salary and benefits. Employees doing time in the military also receive other perks, including special rates to use the Family Fitness Center and golf courses "to add to their quality of life," the mayor added.
The city was nominated by one of its own employees, police sergeant Robert Brinton, who also is a technical sergeant with the 419th Fighter Wing of the Air Force Reserve.
Brinton has been deeply touched by his employer's support of his service to America while still allowing him to maintain his position serving local citizens with the police department for the past 12 years.
He said his military deployments and time away from the police department can last from six months to a year. "The city has been great. That's why I nominated them for this award," Brinton said. "They help out my family while I'm gone. They help out financially. Those things they don't have to do; they do it because they want to."
Brinton has served in the Air Force Reserve for two years and spent six years with the Utah Army National Guard before that. "I wouldn't be where I am today without the support of my family, especially my wife," he said.
West Valley City is one of only two public entities to receive the award this year. The Houston Police Department is the other. More than 2,400 public and private organizations were nominated.