After US Army Reservist Michael Kentner, a maintenance worker for North Shore LIJ, repeatedly asked his boss for flexibility in his schedule so he could fulfill his military service, he decided he had to do more than give back to his country.
Kentner, who is also a New York City firefighter, presented the “Patriotic Employer” Award from the US Department of Defense to his immediate supervisor and the head of the Stern Family Center for Extended Care in Manhasset, a rehabilitation facility, during a ceremony timed to coincide with the 9th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom last week.
“I just wanted to do something nice for them because they do nothing but nice things for me,” Kentner said, referring to the center’s Assistant Director of Engineering, Walter Oberman, and Executive Director, Maureen McClusky. The two accommodate the oft-erratic schedules of employees in the military, he said.
“It’s a huge inconvenience for a manager to deal with a military-reservist because we’re constantly asking for accommodations,” Kentner wrote in his nomination letter. “My supervisor, to his credit, has never once complained about having me in his department; but instead, continues to support what I’m doing with a special sincerity that gives you chills. This guy embodies a certain intangible patriotism that simply cannot be articulated.”
Sgt. Major Vincent J Mannion of the 301st Information Operations Battalion formally presented the award to Kentner’s bosses. “It is my honor and pleasure to present an award to a civilian employer who goes above and beyond for the military,” he said.
Oberman thanked Kentner for his hard work. “It is a privilege to work with someone who has dedicated their life to helping and protecting others,” he said.
“Love ‘em. Love ‘em, love ‘em,” said McCulsky when it was her turn to speak, describing the day as being very emotional.
Andrew Roberts, director of the Office of Military and Veterans Liaison Services of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, drove the point home.
“A lot of people out there will say that they support the troops, but actions speak louder than words,” he said. “And the actions of Maureen and Walter taking care of reserves who’s dedicated to serving his country is what this country is all about.”