ABC of Wisconsin’s Leigh Emrick Receives ESGR Patriot Award

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin Apprenticeship Director Leigh Emrick was presented with a “Patriot Award” from the Office of the Department of Defense on Monday, Sept. 18. The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) award presentation, which was unbeknownst to Emrick, occurred in front of about 25 ABC staff members in Madison.

“It’s hard to put into words my appreciation for being honored today with the Patriot Award. I will forever cherish this moment,” Emrick said. “I never, in a million years, expected something like this.” 

The award recognizes Emrick as a “Patriotic employer for contributing to national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America’s National Guard and Reserve Force.” It was presented by David Melby, volunteer with ESGR.

“It’s always nice to get out here and see wonderful employers taking care of our Guard and Reserve folks,” said Melby. “Something a lot of people don’t know is that 50% of our military is Guard and Reserve. Those are some big numbers and here you are supporting not just members but their spouses and families.”

Leigh Emrick receiving award

David Melby of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security presents the “Patriot Award” to Leigh Emrick, ABC of Wisconsin Apprenticeship Director.

Leigh Emrick receiving award

“I appreciate the recognition and all the kind words, but we don’t support our forces to be recognized, but because it’s the right thing to do,” Emrick added. “It’s a privilege to be able to support the individuals who serve us and preserve our freedom.”

Regardless of why it’s done, the support is certainly appreciated, said Apprenticeship Manager Cheyenne Foster, a Marine Corps veteran and one of Emrick’s employees who nominated her for the award. Foster recalls just one example of the support she received from Emrick when her fiancé, Shane Brozowski, was getting another deployment overseas as a bomb tech.

“Leigh was so supportive throughout that entire time and I couldn’t imagine going to work and not having that support. I’m so grateful for that,” Foster said. “In particular, there was a day when I got a call from Shane. He told me today’s the day I’m getting forwarded to Syria, and I was absolutely crushed. That was an extremely hard day for me and Leigh was there to make sure I was okay. I couldn’t imagine not having this,” Foster said.

Emrick, who has been with ABC nearly 19 years, manages seven other apprenticeship staff members and an apprenticeship program with 2,200 active apprentices in 11 trades, including carpentry, concrete finishing, electrical, heat & frost insulating, heavy equipment operating, HVAC, plumbing, roofing, sheet metal, sprinkler fitting, and steamfitting.

ABC of Wisconsin also received an updated ESGR Statement of Support for the Guard and Reserve for “supporting the country’s service members and their families in peace, in crisis, and in war.”

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