STAPLES-The National Joint Powers Alliance Thursday awarded procurement manager Chris Robinson the Patriot Award for his "extraordinary support" of NJPA procurement lead, Staff Sgt. James Voelker.

The Patriot Award recognizes supervisors and bosses for their support to the nominating service member and his/her family. The honor is given by the Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense program established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers.

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Voelker, a 10-year member of the Army National Guard based at Camp Ripley, is the first active reservist to be hired at NJPA. It has been a learning opportunity for the organization-one embraced by all, especially Robinson, the news release stated.

In the nomination to the ESGR, Voelker stated, "Chris has been instrumental in championing the establishment of processes to support my military obligations. With his support, new leave categories were created in the time and attendance system to accurately track my paid and unpaid time off required for military service. Chris has also ensured that state and federal laws and statutes are accounted for in these processes.

"When last-minute schedule changes come up, Chris has been flexible and understanding. He sees my military career as a value-add to NJPA."

"I'm just excited to have James on the team," Robinson stated in the release. "It's a great partnership and link we have with him as part of the Guards. The skills he brings to us from his role with them benefits our organization and we're pleased to support his commitment to the service."

NJPA is a government agency committed to providing cooperative solutions assisting government, education and nonprofit entities as they strive for efficient public service. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota's nine service cooperatives, NJPA offers a variety of cooperative programs and services for members on a local, regional, statewide and national scale, including Canada.