Last month, ESGR and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Todd A. Weiler, recognized six of its top volunteers with the 2016 Volunteer of the Year Awards.

ESGR’s 54 State/Territory Committees conduct operations in six main functional areas to advance the ESGR mission of promoting a culture in which employers support and value the military service of their Reserve Component employees. These areas are employer outreach, military outreach, ombudsman services, public affairs, training, and operations.

For many years, ESGR has recognized those volunteers whose significant achievements in these areas distinguish them as functional area volunteers of the year. Following are the highlights of this year’s recipients’ accomplishments.

Mr. Phil Stage (California) – Military Outreach Volunteer of the Year: Mr. Stage briefed more than 2,700 Reserve Component Service members in 2015. As an Area Chair, Mr. Stage facilitates more than 150 employer and military outreach events annually. Mr. Chair has certainly gone “above and beyond” in supporting the nearly 58,000 Reserve Component Service members of California.


Mr. Harold Elkan (California) – Ombudsman Services Volunteer of the Year: An ESGR volunteer and ombudsman since February 2011, Mr. Elkan is recognized at the national level for his dedication and professionalism in the ombudsman program. As an ombudsman, he works tirelessly to resolve all ombudsman cases in a timely manner and ensures all parties involved in his cases have a clear understanding of how the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act applies to the issues at hand.


Mr. Larry Jones (Louisiana) – Employer Outreach Volunteer of the Year: During the past year, Mr. Jones briefed more than 420 employers. He has received the Louisiana State Committee Volunteer of the Year Award three times. Mr. Jones’ innovative ideas for briefing have been adopted by members inside and outside the state of Louisiana. Mr. Jones is one of the most outstanding and dedicated volunteers in Louisiana.


Mr. Roger Trout (Florida) – Training Volunteer of the Year: Mr. Trout has served as an ESGR volunteer since 2004 and assumed training responsibilities in 2007. He was the first Training Director for the Virginia State Committee in 2007 and served as the State Chair of Virginia in 2008. He currently serves as a trainer for ESGR’s national Volunteer Leadership Training Program.


Mrs. Francie Ruebel-Alberts (South Dakota) – Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year: Mrs. Ruebel-Alberts is an integral part of the public affairs mission for South Dakota and has worked hard to establish relationships with editors for many small town newspapers, increasing her publication rate from 85% in Fiscal Year 2014 to 100% in Fiscal Year 2015. She is an extremely valuable member of the executive committee and provides all committee members with guidance to strengthen media and brand awareness.


Mr. Joe Bascacci (California) – Operational Volunteer of the Year: Mr. Joe Bascacci was the 2015 recipient of the James L. Roche Award, Above and Beyond Award, and Seven Seals Award. In addition to organizing more than 20 California ESGR volunteer training sessions, including new member orientation and state ombudsman training, Mr. Bascacci briefed more than 500 employers. His tireless efforts and “can-do” attitude are what sets him apart from his peers.