BRENTWOOD — Darin Melanson knows what it’s like to leave work and home in time of war.
A warrant officer with the U.S. Army National Guard, Melanson has been deployed twice while working at the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department.
Deployments can be tough on many fronts, but Melanson said things were made easier because of the support he received from the sheriff’s department, where he’s an administrative sergeant.
“It’s hard on them, but I’ve never gotten any type of grief. They’ve always understood and supported it,” he said.
The support hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Last week, Rockingham County Sheriff Michael Downing and his department received a Patriotic Employer Award from the Department of Defense.
Melanson was deployed to Iraq for most of last year. In addition, Lindsey Cunningham, a dispatcher recently hired as a sheriff’s deputy, is a medic in the U.S. Army Reserve who returned from Kuwait in May.
“We made the accommodations for them and made sure everything was covered back here while they were gone. You want to make sure they don’t have to worry about what’s happening back here” Downing said. “A lot of employers out there are doing this and supporting individuals by making sure they don’t have to worry about their jobs.”
Downing said the department is also hiring a deputy who recently returned from a brief deployment with the Army National Guard.
Making sure their work gets done in their absence isn’t always easy.
“You’ve got to be creative, because your budget doesn’t change. You can’t hire a full-time person to fill in, so you’ve got to rely on part-time help or overtime to fill the gap,” he said.
Melanson said members of the department always supported his family while he was away.
They would check in with his wife once a week to make sure things were OK, and when something needed to be repaired, they were there to help.
“I could focus on my mission overseas because if something happened, there was a safety net to fall back on with the guys,” Melanson said.