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The ESGR, a Department of Defense agency for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve held its annual Florida Military Employer Recognition Breakfast during Broward Navy Days Fleet Week. The event highlighted businesses and organizations that hire service members of the Guard and Reserve. Exceptional employers value their service to our country and they benefit from their leadership skills. Service members offer a global perspective that helps companies to stay ahead on world and business trends. They demonstrate extremely high standards that exemplify the importance of being on time, being focused, responsible and disciplined. They are calm under pressure, have a high regard for professionalism and integrity, and demonstrate a winning “Can Do Attitude.” Nearly half of our military consists of these brave men and women who commit one weekend each month and two weeks each year training to defend our country. While companies that hire these individuals make sacrifices when service members are deployed, they are aware of the benefits from their commitment to supporting our heroes.

ESGR breakfast speakers included; Mary Anne Gray, President/Executive Director, Broward Navy Days, Key Note SpeakerRear Admiral Ricky Williamson, Commander, Navy Region Southeast, 14 year Marine Veteran, Merbebe Solomon and Emcee Warren Lubow, ESGR and Breakfast Chair.

"The annual Broward Navy Days - Military Employer Recognition Breakfast is very dear to all of us as it provides an opportunity to show our appreciation by recognizing employers who go "Above and Beyond" in hiring and supporting our Guard and Reserve members. This year we are proud to recognize Sheriff Scott Israel (Broward Sheriff's Office), Kevin O’Shea and Robert Shapland (AT&T Southeast), Jerry Tyler (The Tyler Agency), Chief Michael McNally (Coral Springs Fire Academy), Dylan Reyes-Cairo (Florida Atlantic University), Bernard Hampton (Bank of America), Travis Viola and Matthew Caldwell (The Florida Panthers) and John Harshaw and Andrea Westbrook (Carnival Corp.) for their tremendous, continued support of our military," said Warren Lubow, ESGR and Breakfast Chairman.


During the breakfast a young veteran, Merbebe Solomon shared his own personal story of struggle and triumph. Born in Ethiopia, before the age of five, he moved to Syria, India and South Dakota. After high school he decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps to provide structure and meaning to his life.

Solomon served 14 years, including a two year Mediterranean deployment aboard the USS George Washington as part of a Marine detachment ship board security force and an additional two deployments in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, as a security element Team Leader conducting tremendously treacherous convoy operations. When he returned to active duty stateside, Solomon had a severe motorcycle accident which was led to his life spiraling out of control. He went through a divorce and the Marines gave him a medical discharge. He experienced depression, addiction, and became homeless. He sought and received treatments for PTSD, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous. Solomon’s self-esteem grew as he rebuilt his life. He then graduated from National University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business.

On a trip to South Florida, he visited a friend from the military and had the opportunity to meet the girl of his dreams. While he didn’t have much to offer her at the time, she believed in him and saw his true potential.

In January 2013, he moved to South Florida and began a six month fellowship with HandsOn Broward through The Mission Continues program. Since veterans are used to serving, this program empowers veterans to continue to serve their country in new ways by focusing on the ways that they can serve their communities. Simultaneously, he completed FAU’s Edge4Vets conference series with a desire to mentor future Edge4Vets veterans that can benefit from his experiences. Nourishing his entrepreneurial spirit, Solomon wrote “Your Rose of Jericho,” a quick inspirational and empowering book that reveals how to live a successful and rewarding life, available at www.amazon.com. Currently he works part-time and is seeking full-time employment.

Solomon explained to the receptive audience what happens to veterans after they experience the structure of military life and then make the transition to civilian life.

All the VIP’s and guests experienced a revelation at the end of the breakfast when Solomon got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend Nicole Reiter. The audience applauded as Nicole looked on in disbelief. They kissed and the crowd heard a distinctive “Yes.”

This compelling story demonstrates the value of businesses, universities, non-profits and the ESGR all working together to hire and support our nation’s heroes.

These collaborations highlight the many different programs and organizations that help veterans get back on their feet after transitioning from military service to civilian life.

For more information on how you can help with the employment of our National Guard, Reserves, Veterans and their Spouses, go to the Hero2Hired website at www.H2H.jobs

For more information on the ESGR, S. FL Contact: Warren Lubow, ESGR Area 14 Chair E. warren.lubow@floridaesgr.com

About the ESGR:
ESGR is a Department of Defense agency that promotes cooperation and understanding between the National Guard and Reserve Service members and their civilian employers to enhance employer support for military service in the Guard and Reserve. These citizen warriors could not defend and protect us at home and abroad without the continued promise of meaningful civilian employment for themselves and their families. ESGR has continued to adapt to meet the needs of Reserve Component members, their families and America’s employers by joining forces with a network of other national, state and local government and professional trade organizations as together, We All Serve!

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