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America Supports You: ESGR Looking for Few Good Employers

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2007 – The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is looking for a few good employers to recognize this year.

The committee, in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, announced today that it has begun accepting nominations for the 2007 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards. The nomination process will conclude Feb. 28.

Founded in 1972, ESGR’s mission is to gain and maintain active support from public and private employers for the men and women of the National Guard and reserves. It also is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program showcasing ways Americans are supporting the nation’s servicemembers.

“I am encouraging all National Guardsmen and reservists worldwide and their family members to visit the ESGR Web site … to nominate their employers for the 2007 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award,” Bob Hollingsworth, ESGR executive director, said. “This prestigious national award recognizes supportive employers who provide exemplarily support above the (federal law) requirements for their employees who serve in the National Guard and reserve.”

More than 1,000 nominations were received for the 2006 awards, Air Force Reserve Maj. Robert Palmer, the national committee’s chief of strategic communications, said. Officials hope to receive 5,000 nominations this year, which is still a relatively small number, considering estimates that more than 200,000 American employers employ National Guardsmen and reservists.

The 2007 recipients will be honored in Washington, D.C., at the 12th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony on Sept. 12.

Defense Secretary William Perry instituted the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. The award, the highest in a series of Defense Department employer awards, publicly recognizes employers for exceptional support of their reserve-component employees above the federal requirements.

National Guardsmen, reservists or their family members can nominate an employer by completing the 2007 Freedom Award nomination form on the ESGR Web site. ESGR field committees will review the nominations and have the option to present three nominations per committee for review by the National Selection Board, which will select up to 15 recipients.

The nominees forwarded by the 56 field committees to the National Committee will fall into one of three categories; large employer, small employer and public sector -- or government -- employers, Palmer said. “We try to have a balanced representation (among those categories),” he added.

Previous recipients have included Starbucks, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Sears, General Electric, DuPont, Verizon, and United Parcel Service. State and local governments and a number of America’s small businesses, who are the majority of National Guard and reserve employers, have also been recipients.

“The whole concept is that (the Freedom Award) rewards employers who go above and beyond, so it’s not just complying with the law but the steps (employers) go beyond to really show Guardsmen and reservists that they are behind their service 100 percent,” Palmer said. “We’ve seen examples of sending care packages, maintaining contact with the deployed member’s families, maintaining contact with the deployed member, any type of activity that would indicate that that employee is still in the hearts and minds of the employer.

“By nominating their employers for Patriot Awards, Above and Beyond Awards, and the Freedom Award, employees are sending their employer a strong message of appreciation,” he said.

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Related Sites:
National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
America Supports You

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