America Supports You: ESGR Freedom Award Nominations Nearly Double
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 17, 2008 When the nomination period closed on Jan. 21, the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve had received a record 2,199 nominations for its 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, a 97 percent increase over the previous year’s 1,119 nominations.
That can be attributed, at least in part, to the relationships the organization has fostered with reserve components as well as media outlets, said Air Force Lt. Col. Michelle Barrett, ESGR’s public affairs officer.
“We had a lot of the reserve-component leadership kind of pushing it down to the troops, and then we have a pretty good network within each service’s public affairs office,” she said. “They kind of helped push it out and advertise, so that helped, as well.”
ESGR also worked with a Washington public relations firm to get the word out by sending information about the award through its channels in the business world.
“The fact that we have so many nominations, the word is getting out that, number one, there are great employers out there, but number two, that there are servicemembers who are benefitting from the great support that they get from the employers,” Barrett said. “It’s great to read all the nominations, not just the final 15.
“So we’re also looking to reach out to those other employers who were nominated because clearly somebody thinks that what they’re doing is benefitting them enough and helping them do their job overseas and helping their family back home,” she added.
The Freedom Award was established in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. The award allows for the recognition of 15 employers who go above and beyond in their support of activated reserve-component members. Nominated employers are considered for the award in three categories: large business, small business and public sector.
Past recipients have included General Motors; Starbucks; Home Depot; the family owned Augustine & Sons farm, in Rose Hill, Iowa; and Turbocam International. Public-sector employers garnering recognition include the State of Tennessee and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
A variety of support to their military employees and their families earned these employers the prestigious award. That support included everything from providing the employees full salary, continuing benefits, sending care packages, and even providing home and lawn care while troops were away.
The 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards will be presented during a Sept. 18 ceremony in Washington.
The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department agency established in 1972, is a supporter of another Defense Department program, America Supports You. America Supports You connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.