Employers Cited for Support of Deployed Employees
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2011 Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, yesterday recognized 15 employers whose support for their deployed National Guard and reserve employees was “restricted only by their imaginations.”
The winners, ranging from a church to a credit union, were presented the prestigious Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award during a ceremony here last night.
Based on employee-submitted nominations, the Freedom Award is the top award the Defense Department can present an employer. This year’s winners are among 145 employers who have received the honor since the first Freedom Awards were presented in 1996.
The 16th Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award presentation ceremony highlighted National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week.
The 2011 recipients all went the extra step to make sure their deployed employees and families were taken care of at work and at home, Stanley said.
“The employers did things like take the kids to their baseball games. Somebody took care of an emergency at an employee’s home. One company set up a network so people were supported at work and at home while [their spouses were deployed],” Stanley said. “They sent money, toys and gifts to their employees while they were deployed.”
David L. McGinnis, acting assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, noted that employer and family support is more important today than at any other period in America’s history.
“Traditionally, the total force was the active component, reserves and the National Guard, but over the last 10 years, we’ve added two more [components] -- the families and the employers,” he said.
“We couldn’t do this without the employers,” McGinnis said. “They’re critical to the more than 800,000 reservists and guardsmen we’ve deployed, and they will continue to be.”
ESGR is a Defense Department agency established in 1972 to develop and promote employer support for Guard and reserve service. It advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws and helps resolve conflict between employers and service members.
Employers who support their employees through multiple deployments exhibit the bond Americans have with their military, Stanley said.
“This is a nation we’re all proud of, a nation we all love. From those in uniform to those not in uniform -- we are bonded,” he said.
After reading the nominations of the 15 winning employers, Stanley said one thought stood out in his mind.
“What came through loud and clear to me, as it probably did to you, is what we call love, when you care that much about people,” he said of the winners.
This year’s Freedom Award recipients are:
-- 3M Co., St. Paul, Minn.;
-- Ameren Corp., St. Louis, Mo.;
-- Burt County Sheriff’s Office, Tekamah, Neb.;
-- CSX Transportation, Jacksonville, Fla.;
-- Electrical Contractors Inc., Omaha, Neb.;
-- Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich.;
-- Hanson Professional Services Inc., Springfield, Ill.;
-- Integrity Applications Inc., Chantilly, Va.;
-- Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Ana, Calif.;
-- Qwest Communications, now CenturyLink Inc., Monroe, La.;
-- St. John’s Lutheran Church, Yankton, S.D.;
-- State Employees’ Credit Union, Raleigh, N.C.;
-- The Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, Iowa;
-- Town of Gilbert, Gilbert, Ariz.; and
-- Wells Fargo & Co., San Francisco.