While Matt Jesse is away from work to serve in the Minnesota National Guard, he’s grateful to know someone is watching out for him back at the Best Buy corporate office in Richfield.

He has been on military leave for more than two years. Being away from his team for so long has been difficult, but Matt knows he has the support of his boss, Jeremy Stewart, senior director of global operations for Exclusive Brands.

“I haven’t had to worry about what I’m coming back to,” Matt said. “I can just focus on my mission and get it done.”

That’s why Matt nominated Jeremy for the Patriot Award, an honor issued by the U.S. Department of Defense that recognizes supervisors and bosses nominated by a Guardsman or Reservist employee for support they’ve provided.

When Jeremy received the award from the Department of Defense, Matt attended the award ceremony and presented Jeremy with a commemorative coin, a military tradition of thanking someone for a job well done. The ceremony was the first time Jeremy and the team had seen Matt since he went on leave.

“I’m profoundly humbled by this honor,” Jeremy said.

It’s all about the team

Matt said he knows his absence from Best Buy has affected his team, but he has felt completely supported to focus on his military mission.

During his time on leave, Matt was recognized for his National Guard service. It’s an honor he said he wouldn’t have received without putting his full efforts into his mission — and it was because of the help of Jeremy and his Best Buy team he could do so.

“I’ve talked to veterans, and they’ve seen other employers that say they support the military, but you can still sense some hesitation from managers when you have to go on orders,” he said. “Jeremy has been so supportive, and I never felt hesitation from him.”

Jeremy said it’s also thanks to the other members on his team that business continues and gives Matt the time and space to focus on his mission.

“I have the easy part, making sure Matt doesn’t worry about this side of the fence,” Jeremy said. “It’s the supporting team members who are doing the heavy lifting.”

Matt is still on duty for the National Guard until September. He’s looking forward to returning and working with his team again after nearly three years apart.

If you’re a current or former member of the military, learn how your role could translate to a career at Best Buy.