Barnes, Roy share "Boss Lift" program experience

They say you'll never truly know another person's life or experience until you walk a mile in their shoes. ITD's Shannon Barnes took those first steps May 14, through the Idaho National Guard's "Boss Lift" program.

Barnes was among several hundred employer-representatives from Idaho, Oregon and Washington being honored at Gowen Field for supporting the service men and women who are members of the National Guard.

The event is one of the ways the National Guard thanks organizations who not only employ, but also support, traditional guardsmen, such as Derek Roy, an ITD employee in ETS and "part timer" with the Guard.

Traditional Army and Air Guardsmen have rigorous requirements to stay trained and equipped at a state of readiness that allows them to operate in "real-world" situations alongside activ- duty counterparts.

Pictured: Barnes in a Blackhawk at left, and in a Humvee at right.

"The Guard understands the sacrifice of civilian employers in the community, and holds the 'Boss Lift' event to thank them, as well as give them a brief glimpse into some of things Guard women and men are involved in when on military duty," Roy explained. The event is coordinated by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an outreach organization aimed at educating, supporting and thanking civilian employers.

Roy added that the commitments of traditional guardsmen can cause stress not only on the member's family, but also the member's civilian employer, who can "lose" the services of an asset for months or years if they are called to duty.

"My very first contact with ITD was my job interview, which I conducted in mid-2013 by phone, while on a six-month tour in Afghanistan. That my potential employer would even consider a candidate in such conditions went a long way in making the decision to come to work at ITD, once offered the position," Roy explained.

Roy said Juan Oleaga (ETS Project Management office manager) and Shannon "have been 100-percent behind me from Day One, allowing me time away to fulfill my military commitment over the past two years."

Thanks to Roy, Oleaga experienced "Boss Lift" last year.

Roy said he and Shannon have spent quite a bit of time discussing the military, the Idaho Guard, and his role in the Idaho Air National Guard. And when he approached his management team with the possibility that he'd be called up to deploy short-notice for potentially several months earlier this year, he said he received nothing but tremendous support, delivered with a "What can we do to help?" mindset.

"Additionally, while deployed, I received an incredible amount of supportive communication from ITD members…some of whom I'd never met!"

He was deployed recently when word of the Boss Lift was announced, and he quickly nominated Barnes.

Pictured right: Derek Roy.

"I had several amazing experiences, but the all-time best was a ride in a Black Hawk helicopter that flew over Arrowrock, Lucky Peak and Boise State," Barnes reported. She also used night-vision goggles, a laser gun and got to play around in a Humvee.

"All fun aside," Barnes said, "it was also clear why it takes so much training and time for our Guardsmen to prepare to use the equipment and be ready to deploy at a moment's notice when a crisis occurs. It takes all of us to ensure that our employees, such as Derek Roy, have the time off they need to train and prepare to fulfill their military mission when called."

"Thank you, Derek, for nominating me, I have new appreciation for the work you do, and I am very grateful on a personal and professional level, to have had this experience," she added.

"I am not the only one," Roy said. In fact, there are 233 women and men working at ITD who have a military background.

Published 05-29-15