Beltrami County worker Will Haubrich recognized with ESGR Patriot Award

·3 min read

Aug. 19—BEMIDJI — After being deployed, there's something very special about being welcomed back by those at home, whether that's friends, family and sometimes even coworkers.

For Marten Schrage, who was recently deployed in Kuwait as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard, seeing how much care and effort his coworkers and supervisor at Beltrami County put in to support him inspired him to show them his own appreciation in return.

"It was really nice to see that they were still thinking about me while I was gone," Schrage said. "The atmosphere here at the county of really working together as a team made me feel comfortable leaving, and then also comfortable coming back."

This led Schrage to nominate Beltrami County for the Patriot Award, a part of the

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program

that aims to recognize and promote understanding between members of the Reserve Component Service and their civilian employers.

A few months after putting in his nomination, Schrage was able to present the award to his supervisor, Will Haubrich, during a county board meeting, thanking him and the county for the support he had received as a member of the armed services.

"It was nice for me as a veteran to be able to present that award directly to Will, but also to recognize and give thanks and appreciation to the entire county for all that they do for veterans," Schrage said.

For Haubrich, being presented with the award marked a considerable honor, since he's a veteran himself.

"I was on active duty for almost nine years, and then I retired at the 21-year mark from the reserve," Haubrich explained. "Supporting fellow service members is very important to me, and near and dear to my heart. It's a real honor, that's for sure."

Haubrich, who is the county's economic assistance program manager, worked to make sure Schrage felt supported throughout every part of the deployment process. And from getting his notice to returning home, that support is just what Schrage felt.

"Everyone at the county told me that they were fully behind me," Schrage said. "All the leadership was fully supportive of me leaving and they made the transition really easy."

Even once he was deployed, Schrage said he still felt supported by his colleagues in Minnesota who sent regular emails and even care packages.

"Will consistently emailed me seeing how things were going, even helped process some of my annual raises while I was gone," Schrage shared. "Then the entire team sent me a care package with a photo of them and some things that are nice to have while I was away."

This active involvement is something that Haubrich encouraged with his department, especially after interest was expressed by the team to support Schrage and keep him included in every way possible.

"It was a great opportunity to use my perspective and help educate people and help them to understand," Haubrich said. "It was a great experience to see everyone involved. It was really active and engaging and that's heartwarming."

All of this is what Schrage hoped to recognize with the ESGR Patriot Award, and what inspired him to put in the nomination for Beltrami County.

"We really wanted to present it in front of the county board to get recognition for the program and the county," Schrage said. "It was a great thing to see there's a lot of people out there who want to be supportive."

For anyone interested in nominating their employer or getting involved with the ESGR, visit

www.esgr.mil.