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The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) recognized Sherry Jursa and Brian Ayala from PNC Bank with the Patriot Award for their support of employees who also serve in the armed services during a ceremony Dec. 17 at the PNC Centre in Chicago.
Brig. Gen. Mark Jackson, Assistant Adjutant General – Army, Illinois National Guard, told attendees of the ceremony he was honored to recognize outstanding people for incredible achievement.
“The 13,000 men and women in the Illinois National Guard could not focus on their jobs without the support of their employers,” he said. “PNC, Sherry and Brian are excellent examples of how employers should and must support their citizen-Soldiers.”
Jursa, a PNC Retail Banking Manager, was nominated by Staff Sgt. Giovanni Perez, 135th Chemical Company, based in Machesney Park, Illinois. Perez credited Jursa’s unwavering trust and support for current service members and veterans for his ability to balance his civilian employment and his military duties with the Illinois Army National Guard.
“PNC not only has helped me during times of short notice for leave, they always support my abrupt military absences,” Perez said in the nomination. “I really appreciate working for a company who values my career at my company but also understands, values and accommodates my military service. Because of the flexibility that PNC provides, it has really helped my work life balance.”
“I am truly humbled and honored by this recognition, but this award is for all of us at PNC. It is a collective team effort to promote our company culture by supporting the needs of our military personnel,” Jursa said. “We are proud of Gio and will continue to work together to help him balance his career and military priorities.”
Ayala, a PNC Retail Banking Manager, was nominated by 1st Lt. Emmanuel Cherry, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery, based in Sycamore, Illinois. Cherry credits Ayala’s support with being able to juggle management training at PNC while conducting several weeks of military training.
“Brian has always been supportive of my military obligations,” Cherry said in the nomination. “When I first met Brian, I knew I would be one of his managers. During my first year here, I was called up for military training at the same time we were looking at management development training at PNC. In most cases, advancements would not be considered when an employee is absent. However, when I returned after military training, it was as if I never left. Brian picked up with my advancement within PNC and now almost a year later, I’ve completed my first year of management with PNC.”
“Both my wife and I have family in the military so we understand, we see the work, the effort and the sacrifices made by our service members,” said Ayala, a PNC Retail Banking Manager. “It is an honor to accept this award, but most deserving are the people that do the work. As employers, it’s critical that we help develop and nurture career paths to ensure that when military personnel return, it is a seamless transition.”
The Patriot Award honors individuals who provide outstanding support and cooperation to their National Guard and Reserve employees and 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.