‘Show of Strength’ Ceremony Highlights Employer Support of Deployed National Guard Members and Reservists
SOMERVILLE – A recent “Show of Strength” ceremony co-hosted by Somerset County Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano and New Jersey State Parole Board Chairman James Plousis reinforced law-enforcement employers’ support of employees serving in the National Guard and Reserves.
Keynote speakers at the Oct. 17 event, held at the Somerset County Veterans Memorial Plaza on Grove Street, were state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Somerset County Freeholder Patricia Walsh.
The ceremony focused on the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), founded in 1972 to foster a link between law-enforcement employers and employees who are serving in the National Guard or Reserve.
Joining Sheriff Provenzano and Chairman Plousis were American Legion and VFW members, representatives from the Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey and the Somerset County Chiefs of Police, as well Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey D. Soriano and members of the military.
“This ceremony acknowledges the relationship and the importance of support to the many military personnel who served while employed in the law enforcement field,” Sheriff Provenzano said. “There have been several officers deployed over the past years under my term as Sheriff. Deployment does affect the office’s day-to-day operation; however I strongly support each of them and honor their commitment.”
Freeholder Walsh said 55 county employees have deployed in the last five years. “They left their homes to defend us, and they all had a job with Somerset County when they returned,” she said.
The Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard presented the colors to begin the ceremony. Following the invocation by Major Rev. James Buckman, chaplain of the 108th Air Refueling Wing, the ESGR program was introduced by retired Marine Col. Alan Smith. Retired Lt. Paul McIntyre discussed the state Parole Board’s Veterans Initiative Program.
The New Jersey American Legion was represented by Past Departmental Commander Bob Looby and Chairman Poulsis. Somerville American Legion Post 12 Commander Patrick Spirito led the placement of a memorial wreath at the veterans’ plaza.
Col. Smith presented the prestigious Seven Seals Award to Commander Looby and to Rod Hirsch, founder and executive director of Operation Shoebox New Jersey, a Somerset County organization that assembles and ships care packages to deployed U.S. military personnel overseas. Mr. Hirsch also received the Sheriff’s Recognition Award for his work with Operation Shoebox.
The ceremony concluded with the formal signing of the “Show of Strength” agreements by Sheriff Provenzano and the eight chiefs of police or their representatives from Somerset County who attended, including those from Bernards, Bridgewater, Bound Brook, Green Brook, Hillsborough, North Plainfield, Peapack-Gladstone and Raritan. Also signing agreements were Freeholder Walsh, Freeholder Robert Zaborowski and Assemblywoman Donna Simon.
To learn more about the ESGR initiative, visit www.esgr.mil For information about the New Jersey Parole Board’s “Operation Veteran Re-entry” project for released veteran offenders, visit the board’s website at http://www.state.nj.us/parole/docs/veterans/CriminalJusticeVeteransInitiativeBrochure.pdf