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home : features : community April 28, 2016


8/21/2013 8:20:00 AM
Returning Afghanistan veteran honors Chino Valley boss
Review/Kathi SabotFrom left, Darren Venters, area chair for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve presents a certificate to Chris Bartels, Chino Valley utilities supervisor, for his support of Staff Sgt. Roger Strader, Jr., during Straderís deployment to Afghanistan.
Review/Kathi Sabot

From left, Darren Venters, area chair for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve presents a certificate to Chris Bartels, Chino Valley utilities supervisor, for his support of Staff Sgt. Roger Strader, Jr., during Straderís deployment to Afghanistan.
By Kathi Sabot
Chino Valley Review

Staff Sgt. Roger Strader, Jr., Arizona Army National Guard, recently returned to Chino Valley from a tour in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border.

The support he received from his boss, Chino Valley Utilities Supervisor Chris Bartels, prompted him to nominate Bartels for recognition by Arizona Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

During Strader's second deployment, Bartels replaced him in the water division with a temporary employee.

To honor Bartels' flexibility, Strader nominated his boss for a recognition award from the Defense Department. Strader and Darren Venters, area chair for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) presented Bartels with the award at the Aug. 13 Chino Valley Town Council meeting.

"Prescott is in the top 30 in the nation for awards," said Venters. "The service member volunteers to support and defend the country, and the employer supports this."

"We wanted to support what Roger was doing," Bartels said. "It was a cooperative effort of the Chino Valley community development and utilities staff. They all pitched in, sent letters, and jerky. My name was on the award, but I want people to know that I accepted it in their names as well."

Strader, in military dress blue, also was recognized for his service.

Venters said since 9/11, 850,000 Guard members have been mobilized for short and long periods. Some are deployed more than once.

"Most employers want to support the service member, and comply with the law," Venters said. The Uniform Services Employment and Re-Employment Act guarantees the service member their job when they return.

Strader moved to Chino Valley in 1999. An Arizona native, he was active military from 1987-1991. He joined the Army National Guard in 2001, and was first called to active duty in 2010.

He was first called to active duty on the Mexican border. Bartels honored Strader's service commitment, and Strader returned to work after a year.

Although a typical annual Guard commitment might include two weeks each year and one weekend per month, Strader again was called to active duty in 2012. This time the destination was Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan is like Mexico, and Pakistan is like the U.S. Pakistan has robotics and higher education. (In Afghanistan) you have the tribes, the in-fighting. You take a puzzle; each tribe is a piece of that puzzle. All these pieces need to come together to make Afghanistan," said Strader.

During Strader's second deployment, Bartels replaced him in the water division with a temporary employee.

Despite his apparent love of "battle rattle vacations," Strader found there were ways to make Afghanistan like home.

During football season, kick-off was at 9 p.m. because of the time difference. George, the cook from California, would make wings, cake, and chilidogs, and by 1-2 a.m. the soldiers would quickly get some sleep to be up again for work in a few hours.

"I was training 10 soldiers how to operate heavy equipment. When they heard that we (U.S.) were leaving, I was up to 25 guys. They were afraid the other guys (from other tribes) wouldn't teach them how to operate the equipment," Strader said.

Back on Chino Valley soil, Strader found another way to help the community. He likes to play chess. After work at the utilities department, he volunteers at CASA, Del Rio's after school program, where he is known as "the chess guy." Strategic duals with young minds - in battles with rooks, knights and castles - transcends time and place.

"I volunteer to serve active duty, so hopefully my son won't have to," he said.
















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