Any of his employees called to active duty in either the National Guard or Reserves have all the support Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton can offer, and those efforts have earned the parish’s top lawman special recognition from the Department of Defense.
Sexton received the coveted Patriot Award Thursday in public recognition of his support for those who answer the country’s call to service. Jim Hill, area chair for the northwest Louisiana committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve made the presentation at Sexton’s office.
“Sheriff Sexton has gone above the duty required to take care of his employees, men and women who are serving in the military,” Hill said. “The Patriot Award was founded in 1972, and it is not an automatic award. He was nominated in writing by one of his employees who serves in the reserves.”
ESGR’s website says the Patriot Award “reflects the efforts made to support Citizen Warriors through a wide range of measures, including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed.”
In the letter of recommendation, Deputy Jeremy Utphall, a.k.a., TSgt. Jeremy L. Utphall, U.S. Air Force Reserve National Guard 307th Bomb Wing Command Post, called Sexton “a role model and a leader, recognizing the special needs of the Reserves and National Guard.”
“He has been a model employer during two tours of duty,” Utphall wrote. “He allowed me to work when needed … he placed my house on patrol request list and told the other deputies to continue to watch over my house and family while I was away. When I returned from my first tour, he expressed to me how he could hardly wait for me to be able to work again and advised me of his future plans for my career.”
Hill, who retired after 30 years as a reservist, says such a letter is impressive when “our soldiers speak so highly of their employer. Sheriff Sexton is receiving this award for contributing to national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America’s guard and reserve force.”
Sexton says those who serve are the ones who deserve recognition, adding he was proud to accept the award on their behalf.
“I’m very humbled and honored to receive this award. I am honored to have employees who protect our rights and liberties,” Sexton said. “They are the ones who guarantee our rights, not to do everything we want to do, but to do the things we should do.”