Defense Department Praises Companies for Support of Guard, Reserve Employees
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2012 Fifteen companies and organizations from a port to a power company received the coveted Secretary of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Freedom Award here yesterday.
The ESGR Freedom Award ceremony highlighted private and public companies, large and small, which go above and beyond what the law requires to support their deployed Guard and reserve employees, said keynote speaker Erin C. Conaton, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
Now in its 17th year, the ESGR Freedom Award is the top honor the federal government can present to employers in recognition of the extra steps taken to support their deployed employees and families.
"We must take time to salute the magnitude of this contribution and to thank you," Conaton said to a large civilian and military audience at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
"With approximately 50 percent of the nation's military strength residing in the Guard and [the] reserves, we know that we wouldn't be able to field the world's greatest military without the depth of reserve components," she added.
These forces maintain their high quality and readiness directly from their dedication to service, strong family support and civilian employer backing, Conaton said.
Such employers seek to not only retain and support their employees who serve in military, they also hire veterans, she said.
"Hiring a Guardsman, reservist or veteran may be regarded as a patriotic gesture," Conaton said, "but more importantly, men and women who have served -- or are continuing to serve -- bring to the workplace meaningful experiences, skill sets and a level of integrity that is rarely matched elsewhere."
Hiring a service member is a patriotic gesture, but it's also an excellent business decision, Conaton said.
"But I don't need to convince you," she told business owners. "You are here tonight because you know well the value service members bring to your organizations."
This year’s award recipients include:
-- Basin Electric Power Cooperative, North Dakota
-- Caterpillar Inc., Illinois
-- Citi, South Dakota and New York
-- Crystal Springs United Methodist Church, Mississippi
-- Delta Airlines, Georgia
-- Gary Jet Center, Indiana
-- iostudio, Tennessee
-- Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Michigan
-- L-3 Communications, Utah, New York
-- Nyemaster Goode, Iowa
-- Port of Seattle, Washington
-- Siemens Corp., Delaware, District of Columbia
-- Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee
-- Uniform Color Co., Michigan
-- Verizon Wireless, New Jersey
Winners are selected based on nominations from employees who are in the Guard or reserves. This year’s 15 winners bring to 175 the number of awards that have honored companies and organizations across the nation. This year's competition received 3,200 nominations, ESGR officials said.