Press Releases

Patriot Award Presented to RCH Employee Christene Willis

ROCHELLE, IL—Rochelle Community Hospital employee Christene Willis was presented with the Patriot Award on behalf of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) in a surprise presentation at the RCH annual service awards dinner on March 23. Willis is the Patient Access Department Coordinator and has been employed at RCH for 15 years.

The Patriot Award is the first in ESGR’s series of awards. An employee serving in the National Guard or Reserve, or the spouse of a Guard or Reserve member, may nominate individual supervisors and bosses for support provided directly to the nominating Service member and his or her family. The Patriot Award reflects the efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measure including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed.

Willis was nominated to receive the Patriot Award by Mellisa Smith who served in the Illinois National Guard in Machesney Park, IL.  Smith’s nomination reads, “Christene Willis deserves this recognition for always supporting my career in the Army National Guard. Never once did she make me feel bad about taking off work because of my drill schedule or military orders. Christene made sure my shifts were covered even at short notice and more often than not covered the shift herself.”

Nominations for the Patriot Award are submitted to the Department of Defense and others’ for approval. Kathy Reed presented the Patriot Award on behalf of ESGR. Reed herself is a retired Army veteran with 25 years of service. She volunteers for ESGR in the Rockford area and as she truly understands the importance of having a positive working relationship between the soldier and their employer.

Who is ESGR?

ESGR, a Department of Defense program, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment. ESGR is supported by a network of more than 4,500 volunteers in 54 committees located across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam-CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Volunteers, hailing from small business and industry, government, education, and prior military service bring a vast wealth of experience to assist in serving employers, Service members, and their families. Together with Headquarters ESGR staff and a small cadre of support staff for each State Committee, volunteers work to promote and enhance employer support for military service in the Guard and Reserve.

Photo ID, left to right:  Kathy Reed, ESGR; Christene Willis; Doris Dickey, Christene's Manager and Mark Batty, Chief Executive Officer. 



Janet Stewart

RCH Marketing & Public Relations Coordinator