Employee Air Force Reservist surprises her supervisors with Patriot Awards

LaTrina Harper, R.N. Coordinator at Pearland Clinic, pulled off a big surprise for Dawn Smith, R.N., and Kiyoko Latson (Sienna Plantation Clinic), and Andrew Fontenot (Pearland Clinic). A 20-year Air Force Reservist, LaTrina nominated Dawn, Kiyoko, and Andrew for an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Patriot Award and, to her delight, all three were chosen – news she managed to keep under wraps until a surprise award presentation held on Feb. 26.

The Patriot Award recognizes supervisors and bosses, nominated by a Guardsman or Reservist employee, for support provided directly to the nominator. The award reflects the efforts made to support Guardsman or Reservists through a wide range of measures, including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is the lead U.S. Defense Department program promoting cooperation and understanding between civilian employers and their National Guard and Reserve employees.

LaTrina, who is a U.S. Air Force master sergeant, joined Kelsey-Seybold in 2014 as a nurse at Tanglewood Clinic. She transferred to Sienna Plantation Clinic in 2016, working under Dawn as her Nursing Supervisor, and Kiyoko, Clinic Administrator, and appreciated the support she received from the pair whenever she had to report to her squadron for Unit Training Assembly (UTA weekends), mandays, or training.

“Dawn understood my special circumstances as an Air Force Reservist and accommodated my travel schedule when I had to leave once a month for Louisiana. She showed an interest and never made me feel guilty,” LaTrina said.

“Kiyoko liked to discuss military affairs and current news and vocalized her interest in the military as well as her support. In fact, her two children now serve in the military, one in the Army and one in the Air Force. I appreciated the interest she showed and the support she provided, allowing me to go on annual tour and orders,” LaTrina said.

LaTrina moved to Pearland Clinic in October 2019, where she’s also received outstanding support from Andrew, Clinic Administrator.

“I had to report for a week-long strategic planning meeting on short notice, and he supported me, even though we were short-staffed at the time. I really appreciated that,” LaTrina said.

When LaTrina nominated Dawn, Kiyoko, and Andrew for a Patriot Award, she didn’t think they’d all be selected but was thrilled when notified they were. She said all three are deserving of the award, which was presented by Louis Cioletti, a retired lieutenant colonel with the Medical Service Corps, U.S. Army Reserves.

“Their support has meant a lot to me,” she said. “It has made my loyalty to Kelsey-Seybold that much stronger.”

Left to right: LaTrina Harper, R.N. Coordinator at Pearland Clinic and a U.S. Air Force Reserve Master Sergeant, with Patriot Award recipients Dawn Smith, R.N., Sienna Plantation Clinic, Kiyoko Latson, Clinic Administrator, Sienna Plantation Clinic, and Andrew Fontenot, Clinic Administrator, Pearland Clinic. The awards were presented by Louis Cioletti (far right), a retired lieutenant colonel with the Medical Service Corps, U.S. Army Reserves.
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