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Marine Reservist Cites Rental Car Firm for Superb Support

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2007 – Marine reservist Cpl. Blake Milam says his civilian employer, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, has gone the extra mile to make him feel good about his military service.

Last year, the Tulsa, Okla.-based rental car company gave a welcome-home party for Milam after he returned from an 8-month duty tour in Fallujah, Iraq, he said.

“They’ve been really supportive,” the 23-year-old automobile inventory technician said of his employer. “They’ve gone out of their way to help me out.”

Milam nominated his employer to receive the prestigious Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Dollar Thrifty is among 15 businesses and organizations selected to receive the annual award, which recognizes exemplary support for employees in the Guard or reserve.

Dollar Thrifty also provided Milam with two raises and a slice of company profits that he’d missed while he was serving in Iraq.

A radio operator in military life, Milam said his employer’s support enabled him to perform dangerous duty in Iraq without worrying about his job back home. Milam experienced the death of three of his fellow Marines and the severe wounding of three other comrades during heavy fighting against the enemy.

Milam credited Dollar Thrifty for helping him to transition back to civilian life after his return from Iraq in October 2006.

“Things are going really good right now,” he said.

Although Dollar Thrifty officials are pleased to earn recognition for supporting their servicemember-employees, receiving the Freedom Award “really wasn’t our goal,” said Gary L. Paxton, Dollar Thrifty’s president and chief executive officer.

“Our goal is to support our people and to support the troops,” said Paxton, who had served as an active-duty Marine. Guard and reserve members live two lives, as civilians and as deployable members of the military, he explained.

“There is always the possibility of being called up,” Paxton said of members of the Guard and reserve. “And, yet, they’re trying to build a personal life, too.”

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award recognizes U.S. employers that rise above the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department agency, manages the award process. ESGR assists Guard and Reserve members and their employers understand employee eligibility and job entitlements, employer obligations, benefits and remedies under the act.

Paxton is slated to accept the Freedom Award on behalf of his firm during a formal ceremony here tomorrow.

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

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