March 22, 2010
SIUC honored for support of military personnel
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is receiving recognition for its support of active-duty military personnel.
Chancellor Samuel Goldman signed an institutional Statement of Support, signifying the University’s continuing support of Guard and Reserve personnel affiliated with SIUC, on Friday, March 19. SIUC received the Seven Seals Award from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and four University employees each received a Patriotic Employer Award for their efforts.
Goldman noted the University’s long-standing commitment to active military personnel, reservists and the nation’s veterans.
“Our military personnel make significant sacrifices on behalf of all of us and it is only fitting that we demonstrate our commitment to meeting their needs,” Goldman said.“I very much appreciate the efforts of the four employees being recognized.Their support of our military personnel reflects the attitude of our entire campus community.”
Professor Mehdi Zargham, chair of the Department of Computer Science; Georgia L. Marine Norman, office administrator in the computer science department; John S. Jackson, a visiting professor with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute; and Stella Kantartzi, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant, Soil Science and Agricultural Systems, received awards. Diane McClain-Inman, a sergeant with the Missouri National Guard, Mark A. Smith, a staff sergeant with the Illinois Air National Guard, and 2nd Lt. William D. Clark of the Illinois Army National Guard nominated the four for the honor.
The awards recognize recipients for “contributing to national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America’s National Guard and Reserve Force,” said James A. Osberg, the employer outreach representative for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
The ESGR Seven Seals Award symbolizes the seven services that comprise the Reserve components, and is presented to organizations that show outstanding support to the National Guard and Reserve, Osberg said.
Osberg worked for SIUC in a variety of positions for a total of 34 years before retiring in 2003.
“The way that Mehdi Zargham, Georgia Norman, John Jackson and Stella Kantartzi treated the soldiers who were deployed from their departments is exemplary, and we should be proud that SIUC, without even knowing about any kind of award, did the right thing in the cases of these individuals,” Osberg said.
McClain-Inman, who lives in Carterville, is an office support specialist in the computer science department. She has been at the University for a combined total of 15 years, and was in the computer science department for just over a year before she left in March 2008 for her current tour, which included a deployment to Kosovo. She has a total of 28 years military service, and is a unit clerk with a Blackhawk Unit in Missouri. She deployed with a different unit, the 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade out of Jefferson City, Mo.
The support Zargham and Norman showed when her unit was deployed meant a lot, McClain-Inman said.
“With everything else on our minds that we must deal with during a deployment, it is comforting to know we have the support of our employers back home,” she said. “It went beyond a company keeping a position open for you when you return from military duty; the encouragement, friendship and support while I was gone meant more to me that they could ever realize.”
McClain-Inman was in Kosovo for 10 months after her training, but injured her shoulder and knee during a training exercise there. After undergoing surgery, McClain-Inman is now going through physical therapy. She hopes to finish rehabilitation and return to the University in a couple of months.
Military personnel and their families are not the only ones who sacrifice during a deployment, according to McClain-Inman.
“Employers are called upon to sacrifice and I want them to know that it is neither unnoticed or unappreciated,” she said. “Without their support the military could not fulfill their duty as well. I am truly grateful that SIUC fully supports the military and stands behind us as we serve our duty.”
Smith, who lives in Freeburg, has been with the Illinois Air National Guard for more than four years. He is temporary full-time with the guard at Scott Air Force Base during the day, and is working toward a Master in Public Administration Degree at night at SIU-Edwardsville. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from SIUC in 2009. While pursuing his bachelor’s degree, Smith’s internships involved working with Jackson County Emergency Management and the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Jackson, who supervised Smith’s internship program, fully supported his involvement with the Illinois Air National Guard, Smith said. When he had a temporary duty assignment to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam during mid-semester, Jackson made sure Smith received adequate time off for travel to and from his duty station, Smith said.
Smith is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and said he has been to a handful of locations both in the United States and overseas.
“He also helped coordinate with other instructors at SIUC so that I was able to complete missed assignments,” Smith said of Jackson. “His support of service members seeking higher education is commendable. He is a true patriot.”
Smith said the University “has always been welcoming to our military members, providing support and resources to obtain an education.”
“When you are wearing both hats of airman and student, they usually conflict in some manner. It is a lot less stressful knowing that your university and professors are in support of you, and will go out of their way to ensure the education process does not stop,” Smith said. “In the past, at another school, I had an instructor treat me as if it was my fault for serving my country and I had to drop a course. But this was never the case at SIUC.”
Clark, who lives in Carbondale, is with the 33rd HHD (Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment) Battalion with the Illinois Army National Guard. He is pursuing his master’s degree in plant, soil and agricultural systems, and thanked Kantartzi for her support.
“She gave me an assistantship to work and study under her even though I have obligations to the National Guard,” he said. “She has been very supportive of my Guard career and when I had to leave for deployment to Iraq and when I got back.”
Kantartzi continued her support when Clark left for six months for Basic Officer Leadership Courses, he said.
“She is a great supporter of the Guard and a mentor,” he said. “I could not have done great things without her assistance and cooperation.”
In November, Military Advanced Education Magazine listed the University for a third consecutive year as one of the nation’s top military-friendly colleges and universities. SIUC is one of fewer than 30 universities and colleges to make the publication’s list all three years. In addition, the University’s success earned recognition as a “Military Friendly School for 2010,” from G.I. Jobs Magazine. That recognition places SIUC among the top 15 percent of 7,000 colleges, universities and trade schools in the nation, which, according to the magazine, “are doing the most to embrace America’s veterans as students.”