Harriman Police Department knows how to treat a vet

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By Cindy Simpson

Harriman Police Department was honored for its patriotism and the support it gave one of its former employees who left for National Guard service.

Former Harriman K-9 handler Guy McGill nominated the department for the Patriotic Employer Award through the Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve, an agency part of the Department of Defense.

McGill was present when Air Force Brig. Gen. Jim Mungenast presented the award to Harriman Police Chief Randy Heidle on Monday.

“It is the best support I’ve ever had from any employer,” McGill said. “I’ve never really been supported the way Randy supported me.”

“It makes servicemen’s and guards’ jobs a lot easier knowing we have the support of our employers,” he added.

While there are laws in place to protect the jobs of those serving in the military, there is also a level of dedication that some employers provide above and beyond.  

McGill said the department was supportive throughout his service, giving him opportunities despite risks he might be deployed.

“He brought me in and hired me as a K-9 officer knowing there was a possiblity with Iraq and Afghanistan going on,” McGill said. “Not a lot of departments are going to take that kind of risk.”

Heidle, who served in the Navy for six years, understands what it takes.

“I’m a veteran myself, so I completely understand. I’m a commander of an American Legion and service officer,” Heidle said.

McGill said he had support continually, including when he was called into active duty to operate the National Guard Armory in Cleveland after they were called to Iraq, and before he was ever deployed to Iraq himself.

McGill said he was deployed in May 2010.

He first left in August 2009 to operate the armory.

“I ran the armory all the way up to our deployment,” McGill said.

McGill, who lives in McMinn County, now works closer to home at the McMinn County Sheriff’s Office. He is retired from military service.

“Three combat tours and 22 years of service was enough. It was time to spend time with family,” he said.