September 22, 2016 –
Sergeant Steven W. Downey, desk sergeant with the Marine Corps Police Department, presented his supervisor, Lt. Justin C. Witcher the Service Member Patriot Award during a ceremony held aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., Sept. 16.
In addition to his duties as a civilian police officer, Downey also serves as a Sergeant 1st Class with the 313th Military Police Detachment, U.S. Army Reserve out of Sloan, Nevada. He nominated Witcher for the award during one of his deployments stating the following:
“Justin Witcher has been my direct supervisor since 2010 when I was hired by the Marine Corps Police Department. Since my date of hire, Mr. Witcher has strongly supported my service in the Army Reserve. He has supported me during numerous short notice activations, military schools, battle assemblies, annual training, and my mobilization to Afghanistan in 2014. During all of my activations for military service Mr. Witcher kept in contact with me and my family, and despite manpower shortages, has never treated me negatively for being a member of the Reserve.”
During the ceremony, Witcher graciously accepted the award commenting that Downey made it easy to be his supervisor.
“Looking back over your career, there are very few employees you can really say you enjoyed supervising, but (then) Cpl. Downey was one of those employees,” said Witcher. “He is very reliable if you give him a task he would get it done without any questions. He needs very little guidance and is very self-motivated.”
Chief Darwin O’Neal, the chief of police on base, commended Downey for having a great attitude regarding his service in the Reserve.
“He keeps us informed and keeps us in the loop,” said O’Neal. “He communicates with us well when he may be going on orders then he turns in the paperwork in a timely manner, making it easier for us to plan.”
From the top down, the department encourages service to country and community. Danny Strand, director of Security and Emergency Services, pointed out that the long history of reserve-style military service started with the Founding Fathers of our great nation.
“It was the intent of our Founding Fathers to create a militia type of military structure, so that individuals could be called upon to serve when they were needed,” Strand said. “Then they would return home to their other duties.”
Between Downey and Witcher, the communication and teamwork are top notch. In some cases, the Reserves give Downey as little as 48 hours to respond to a call for him to serve in some capacity, whether for training, deployment, or battle assembly. He immediately contacts Witcher who pulls it all together so that Downey can serve without concern over his job status here upon his return.
“He is always supportive of me when I am activated for long (or short) periods of time,” Downey said. “He also ensures that my position within the department is held for me and upon my return welcomes me back to the workforce with open arms and assists me in my reclamation process back into civilian life after my redeployment.”
An employee serving in the National Guard or Reserve may nominate individual supervisors for the Patriot Award honoring the support provided directly to the service member and his or her family, states the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve website. The Patriot Award reflects the 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. Recipients of the Patriot Award are given a certificate and lapel pin.