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Idahoans at INL Keeping Military Safe Earn Largest 'Spirit of Idaho' Award

Senator honors 200 SMC employees for their service to veterans

Idaho National Laboratory Site – Protecting and assisting Idaho’s soldiers in combat, and supporting those veterans who have separated from service takes top priority for a large group of Idahoans working as part of the Idaho National Laboratory.  Their above and beyond efforts to serve others are being honored by Senator Mike Crapo with his Spirit of Idaho Award. 

The Specific Manufacturing Capability (SMC) project protects soldiers with advanced armor solutions.  The project has manufactured over a million components alone for the U.S. Army’s Abrams main battle tank.  But SMC goes further, supporting local soldiers, veterans and their families throughout Idaho. 

During a presentation at SMC’s facilities on the INL site, Crapo noted that the SMC program includes expertise from armor researchers to technicians working together to provide enhanced protection on the battlefield and support at home. The Spirit of Idaho Award was presented because SMC employees also work in their off-hours, reaching out to the veterans’ community and giving back to military members for their service to Idaho and the nation.  

“We often talk about Idaho’s great mountains, recreation, water and landscapes, but it is her people that make Idaho so wonderful and your work to protect our troops overseas and your efforts to serve and care for active duty families in our community is an example for all of us,” Crapo said. “It will be my honor to tell my colleagues in Washington about folks like you who just want to help others.” 

“Many of our employees have a tie to the armed forces in some way, either having served themselves or having friends or family in the military,” said SMC Defense Systems Director Jake Fryer. “This has provided the inspiration for a number of community projects during the year.” 

“The challenges facing soldiers on the battle field and in life have impacted our employees,” said Walter Gonzalez, SMC director. “They have a desire to make a difference and take a lot of pride in their work and community outreach. “ 

SMC officials noted that employees participate in several fundraising events and charitable activities. These events are aimed at raising Christmas funds for soldiers serving in a local branch of the Army Reserves and for retired soldiers living at a Veterans Home, both located in Pocatello. 

This past year, SMC’s generous employees raised almost $8,000 to provide Christmas for soldier’s families and those living in State Veterans Home. Along with raising funds, SMC employees also support a special holiday presentation at the Veteran’s retirement home and briefly spent time with the soldiers and families from the Idaho National Guard.

 “Everyone has a cause to support, and at the Specific Manufacturing Facility (SMC), we support American soldiers,” Fryer said. 

Photos of the Spirit of Idaho presentation Monday at SMC’s facility on the INL Site are attached.

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Sen. Crapo addresses SMC employees before presenting the Spirit of Idaho award.

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From left, Sen. Mike Crapo awards Walter Gonzales, Director for SMC with the Spirit of Idaho Award.

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The women and men of SMC who earned the Spirit of Idaho award

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