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John Kruzel, Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs
WASHINGTON - 09.04.2009
A New Jersey-based company that specializes in selling and renting private business jets – and has employed dozens of military members – will receive the Defense Department's top award for the support it provides National Guard and Reserve members on its staff.
As a testament to NetJets' devotion to its citizen-soldiers, the company this year received 23 nominations for award by their servicemember employees from all seven reserve-component branches.
"I wanted to nominate NetJets because of their enduring commitment to all of the men and women in uniform, especially those that are employed with NetJets," said John Gadjo, who serves as lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve in addition to his job at NetJets. "They have supported my reserve duties over the years and have stood behind me with my most recent deployment."
Gadjo, who has worked at NetJets since 2002, was called up for active duty as a Marine aviator in 2004 for two years. He piloted AH-1W Super Cobras for HMLA-773 in support of combat missions in Afghanistan. Like the nearly two dozen other nominators, Gadjo received his salary and a pay differential during his deployment, and his family maintained their medical and life insurance benefits.
"They continued to stay in contact with my family and me and sent gift boxes to us while we were deployed," he added. "This was a great morale boost."
While their co-workers are on active duty, NetJets employees regularly raise money for care packages and financial assistance for deployed colleagues and their families. NetJets also coordinates homecoming receptions for deployed employees upon their return to the workplace and uses its Web site and company newsletters to share the latest news of deployed employees.
A brass plaque on display at NetJets headquarters proudly notes the names of all NetJets employees who have served or are serving aboard.
"NetJets also flew a Blue Star flag at their Columbus facility and continue to have a plaque in the owner's atrium with the names of employees that have and continue to serve overseas," Gadjo said, referring to the banner indicative of deployment.
NetJets will receive the Freedom Award along with 14 other companies in a ceremony here later this month. The Freedom Award, instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, recognizes U.S. employers that rise above the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
"To me as a military member, and knowing what families go through in such times, this is extremely inspirational," Gadjo said. "It is very comforting and inspirational to know that the leaders that you are employed by understand that sometimes there are bigger things that must be attended to from time to time. NetJets continues to be a family that supports each other throughout all difficult times."
Gadjo said he was pleased to learn NetJets was on the list of companies to earn the department's award. "I was very happy to hear that NetJets would receive this award, because in my mind they are very deserving," he added. "Their support for all of us is second to none."