DOD Honors Top Employers of Guard, Reserve Members
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 27, 2013 Fifteen companies and organizations were honored here yesterday with a Secretary of Defense-level award for their outstanding support of employees serving in the National Guard or reserve.
Such support is critical to the nation’s security, said Jessica L. Wright, the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, who attended the award ceremony.
Wright said the event was a “monumental night” to formally honor the 15 recipients with the coveted Secretary of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Freedom Award.
“Your energy and support for the warriors is enormous, and it is clearly appreciated,” Wright told the employers, who represented public- and private-sector companies and organizations from across the country.
In a memo, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Guardsmen and reservists could not uphold their military duties “without supportive, helpful and encouraging employers and communities back home.”
Hagel continued, “By doing more than is expected, these organizations serve as models for employers and communities nationwide. Their accomplishments are an important reminder that supporting citizen warriors and their families is a responsibility all Americans share.”
The 15 awardees were nominated by their Guard and reserve employees, and were chosen from nearly 2,900 entries, according to the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a DOD office that seeks to foster good relations between Guard and reserve members and their civilian employers. Selection for the award was based on an employer’s ability to meet or exceed support for their deployed service members, according to ESGR.
Wright said the support that employers provide to their deployed employees runs the gamut of small- and large-scale needs, from helping spouses back home with child care, repairing a roof or shoveling snow.
“They’re always there to assist the families [with] a robust network of support,” she said.
One employer, Wright said, “even hired a spouse when her husband was deployed, after she lost her job.”
And employers have contributed millions of dollars to military support organizations, including support of disabled veterans, Wright said.
“They’re the front-line runners when it comes to military talent,” Wright said of the awardees. “They’ve established leadership programs within their organizations [to help military members] achieve management jobs, they ran mentoring programs and helped veterans transition back from service life into civilian life.”
Saying “thank you” doesn’t seem to be enough, Wright said.
“I wish there was some monumentally big word for ‘thank you,’” she said. “But I will say thank you over and over again to the employers here; employers that are out there working very hard.
“We’re recognizing 15 great employers today,” Wright continued,“ but every employer who supports a member of our Guard and reserves is near and dear to the Department of Defense and in our hearts … thank you for what you do for the fighting force of the United States of America. We are all grateful for your efforts.”
The 2013 Secretary of Defense ESGR Freedom Award winners are:
-- Albuquerque Fire Department, Albuquerque, N.M.
-- Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C.
-- C.W. Driver, Pasadena, Calif.
-- City of Columbus, Columbus, Ohio
-- Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado Springs, Colo.
-- DaVita Inc., Denver
-- Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, Tenn.
-- Family Allergy and Asthma, Louisville, Ky.
-- Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky.
-- Pape-Dawson Engineers, San Antonio
-- Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Columbia, S.C.
-- Safeway Inc., Pleasanton, Calif.
-- Steel Plate Fabricators, Knoxville, Tenn.
-- U.S. Bank, Minneapolis
-- U.S. Marshals Service, Washington, D.C.