Local Ministry Employee Visits Fort Bliss

Dennis Kaster, manager of rehabilitation services department at Saint Michael’s Hospital was nominated by fellow Ministry employee and member of the 32nd Brigade Team, Sgt.Traci Smet, to take part in the Boss Lift program through Wisconsin Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

The ESGR Boss Lift program invites civilian employers who demonstrate their support to members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) to the Fort Bliss, TX military base to see first hand what their employees experience during training.

Dennis Kaster left Dane County Airport on March 27 on a KC-135 Air Refueler aircraft provided by the 128th Air Refueling Wing of the WI Air National Guard, Milwaukee. He spent two nights in Fort Bliss observing Smet and other 32nd IBCT members in training.

“It was a great experience, something I will never forget,” stated Kaster of the weekend Boss Lift program. “But the most rewarding was being able to show my support for Traci and the rest of the troops. Over the weekend l learned that the concern for jobs was one of the top three concerns a solider has, next to family at home, and their own personal safety. This was an eye opener for me.”

The 32nd IBCT is the largest overseas deployment of Wisconsin National Guard forces since World War II. In July of 2008 Saint Michael’s Hospital, Ministry Health Care received the Patriot Award, an honor brought forth through a nomination by Traci Smet, employed at Saint Michael’s Hospital. The Patriot Award received through ESGR recognizes employers who work around the schedules of employees, like Smet, who are called to serve their county.

"We consider employers that support our troops in this fashion to be the cream of the crop as not all business are as supportive as one might think," stated Michael Hallquist, Wisconsin ESGR Program Support Specialist. "When troops have support at home, especially knowing that they have a job when they return, they have greater piece of mind and are able to focus on the task at hand."

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