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AEP receives Employer Support of Guard and Reserve’s Above and Beyond Award

by on May 6, 2019
Shown above with the Employer Support of Guard and Reserves' Above and Beyond Award are (left to right): Dale Vitale, Tom Presthus, Paul Chodak, Jason Luna, Julie Sherwood, Kary Bigbie, William Thompson and Dave Erickson.

AEP received the Above and Beyond Award from the Employer Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Ohio Office April 17. Paul Chodak III, executive vice president, Generation and executive sponsor of the Military Veterans Employee Resource Group (MVERG), accepted the award on behalf of AEP.

“AEP places a high value on our active military and military veteran employees, and we are honored to receive this recognition,” Chodak said. “We have demonstrated our support with our paid leave and pay differential policies, as well as our proactive efforts to attract talented individuals with military backgrounds to work at AEP.”

Jason Luna, generation dispatcher senior, Commercial Operations, nominated AEP for the award and also recognized the group's leadership for their support. He is a member of the Ohio National Guard who is about to embark on his third overseas active duty deployment.

"I especially want to extend my gratitude to the entire Commercial Operations team for your exemplary support of Jason," Chodak said. "Your actions demonstrate the caring and supportive culture we so prize at AEP."

“My entire department has been very supportive of me, and I thank all of them for what they have done,” Luna said. “When I was on previous deployments, they sent cards and care packages to me. You don’t know how much receiving one of those packages means to soldiers who are deployed.”

Luna, sergeant first class in the Ohio National Guard, has served in the National Guard for 21 years as a combat engineer. During his military career, he has served in a wide variety of positions including: team leader, squad leader, section sergeant, battalion assistant operations non-commissioned officer (NCO), brigade engineer, brigade assistant operations NCO, and division operations sergeant. He has also helped train over 5,000 soldiers deploying to numerous locations across the globe.

He will be deploying in May for active duty and is scheduled to report to Kuwait in July. He previously served on active duty in Kosovo from September 2016 to July 2017, and in Sinai, Egypt from September 2008 to August 2009.

Awards recognize support of employees serving in military

The Above and Beyond Award is presented by ESGR State Committees to recognize employers at the local level who have gone above and beyond the legal requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act by providing their Guard and Reserve employees additional, non-mandated benefits such as differential or full pay to offset lost wages, extended health benefits, and other similar benefits.

The award is given in limited numbers by state committees to employers who have had at least one of their supervisors/managers recognized with a Patriot Award, and who have signed or agree to sign an ESGR Statement of Support.

Five other AEP leaders were presented with Patriot Awards, nominated by Luna. This award recognizes individual leaders’ contributions in support of employees who serve in the Guard or Reserves.

Receiving Patriot Awards were Julie Sherwood, senior vice president, Commercial Operations; Tom Presthus, vice president, Market Operations; William Thompson, director, Commercial Operations Support; Dave Erickson, director, Real Time Market Operations; and Kary Bigbie, Generation Dispatcher manager.

Presenting the Above and Beyond Award to AEP was Dale Vitale, retired lieutenant colonel, U.S. Army; ombudsman in the ESGR Ohio Office and principal assistant attorney general in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

AEP supports military veterans in various ways

In addition to other employee benefits, AEP also provides a pay differential for employees deployed to active duty in the military or who attend mandatory military training. The company also provides additional paid time off for service members to attend comrades' funeral services.

To support the more than 1,800 military veterans who already work at AEP, the company sponsors the Military Veteran Employee Resource Group (MVERG), with members in Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.

MVERG's mission is to promote the roles and contributions of veterans and active-duty military employees, provide professional development and networking opportunities for our members and serve as a liaison between AEP and the veteran and military communities.

AEP has received national recognition for its veteran employment practices with 14 years of being designated a Top Military-Friendly Employer by G.I. Jobs magazine. AEP was one of six energy companies to develop the Troops to Energy Jobs initiative to provide veterans with a career roadmap for jobs in the energy industry. The company also is a member of the Veteran Jobs Mission, a coalition of more than 230 companies committed to hiring military veterans.

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One Comment
  1. dtso325 permalink

    As a retired AEP Employee and retired military how does a non-profit organization make contact with AEP regarding support, sponsorship, or donations? I continue serving my country and our veterans and I’m currently the Chapter Coordinator for Heroes On The Water Coastal Bend Chapter where we take veterans and their family members kayak fishing and it’s always free. I have tried to contact Ken Griffin, AEP Texas via email ( and haven’t gotten any response.
    Email –
    Website – HeroesOnTheWater.Org

    While working for AEP I spent 20 of my 24 years in uniform serving in the Texas Army National Guard allowing me to be Military Retired, and I was very appreciative of the support I received while employed with AEP. I retired from AEP after 41 years of service in 2010.

    Thanks, Joseph (361) 739-0329

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