Company picnics are for barbecued burgers, games with the kids, and ice-cold drinks in the hot summer sun. For Jesse Phillips-Mead, systems program manager for datacenter execution in the Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations organization (MCIO), the team picnic was also a chance to share a special moment with his colleagues: his reenlistment ceremony for the Oregon Air National Guard.
“I wanted to do this here, and I wanted to do it at work, because I spend most of my time with a lot of you, and you’re a second family,” said Phillips-Mead. “It’s a privilege to work with all of you.”
Phillips-Mead has served in the National Guard since his graduation from military air traffic control school in 2010. A staff sergeant and air traffic control watch supervisor in the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron at Kingsley Air National Guard Base in Klamath Falls, Ore., he has controlled thousands of hours of flight operation without incident and has trained apprentices in air traffic control. He could have chosen to end his service when his first contract came to an end, but decided to go above and beyond the commitment he made when he first enlisted in the Air Force by signing up for another six years.
Brent Huntington, a project manager on Phillips-Mead’s team and gunnery sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve, kicked off the ceremony. Corporate Vice President Suresh Kumar was on hand to welcome colleagues and picnic guests. Team General Manager and retired Army Col. Doug Mouton then administered the Oath of Enlistment, which Phillips-Mead repeated and affirmed. And after the two exchanged the customary military salutes, Phillips-Mead thanked his colleagues and girlfriend for supporting and inspiring his service.
Reenlistment ceremonies are usually held on military installations, with friends and family invited to watch a group of service members recommit to serve their country. By formalizing his reenlistment at a company picnic at Vasa Park on Lake Sammamish in Bellevue, Wash., Phillips-Mead surrounded himself with the support of both his civilian colleagues and his many Microsoft co-workers who are also members of the National Guard & Reserve or who were formerly active duty members of the military.
“This is a unique opportunity that doesn’t happen often in the business world,” Huntington said. “It really shows the impact and support that military members have at Microsoft. By doing this, Col. Mouton is showing his continued support to the men and women who serve our country and demonstrating to the entire MCIO organization the value these service members bring to Microsoft.”
Under the provisions of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), civilian employers are required to allow their guardsmen and reservists to take necessary time out for training and duty. But Microsoft goes above the minimum to offer tangible support for employees’ service in many ways. For example, employee and family benefits, such as healthcare coverage, do not lapse during guard and reserve leaves. Microsoft also pays employees the difference between their Microsoft and military salaries while they’re on active duty. These are just some of the reasons that Microsoft received the 2016 Extraordinary Employer Support Award from the U.S. Department of Defense in recognition of its sustained support of National Guard and Reserve military members. All those who attended Phillips-Mead’s reenlistment ceremony in the midst of a company summer picnic experienced firsthand the depth of Microsoft’s support for both the professional and military commitments that service members make.