In early March, Kenia Perez, the patient escort coordinator at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital in Humble, received a distinguish honor at work. Although her dedication to her team is widely recognized within her facility, this award was especially notable, as it came from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Perez was presented with the Patriot Award by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a division of the U.S. Department of Defense, for her support of one of her employees, Michael Olivarez, a wheeled vehicle mechanic in the Army Reserves.
“Kenia has been supporting me since day one, and that support has been such a huge help,” Olivarez said. “She knew I was in the military, but I don’t think she realized how rigorous my schedule can be. I juggle a lot and she supports that and works around my military schedule, my school schedule and my personal life, and because of her, I don’t have to worry about making it all work.”
Olivarez, who works as a Patient Transporter at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, submitted an essay to nominate Perez for the award. In it, he wrote the following praise:
I have been working for Memorial Hermann for only two months and since I have started, I have received nothing but praise and recognition for my military service. When I first had a drill that lasted four days, Ms. Perez did not even hesitate to free me from work on those days, and even insisted I take a day off before and after to rest. Every time I need days off for the military or even for my college, she does not hesitate to work around my busy military/student life and even encourages me to pursue my goals even if it means more school or time away from work. She is an excellent example of how employers should treat their military employees, and as such should be recognized as one.
As for Perez, she was both surprised and humbled by the honor.
“Michael is a great employee and even with the challenges of his schedule, we are so happy to have him and we want to support our troops,” Perez said. “It means so much to me that he nominated me for this award. This is my job—to find coverage for my employees and to help them if they need anything—but I didn’t know what a huge impact this was for him, and so I am very honored by this nomination.”
Part of the ESGR’s mission is to recognize employers and supervisors, like Perez, who provide support for service members so they are not worried about their jobs during their deployments. Olivarez, who will be deployed later this year, said these efforts mean the world to him.
“For me personally, my job at Memorial Hermann is not a work environment but more like a family environment,” Olivarez said. “Kenia is no longer just a manager; she is part of my family. I came to the U.S. at a young age and being able to support our freedom here and everything America stands for is a great honor for me, and I am so thankful to be able to do that with her help, and to serve my country.”