Nomination Season to Open for Top Guard, Reserve Employer Awards
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 3, 2006 Reserve-component members will have a chance to recommend their employers to be recognized for supporting their military service, as the nomination season for the 2006 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards opens next week.
The nomination season opens Jan. 9 and continues through Feb. 28, Tom Bullock, an ESGR spokesman, told the American Forces Press Service.
During last year's open season, reserve-component members nominated 1,492 employers for the prestigious award. Fifteen winning employers were honored at a ceremony here last October.
To recommend their employers, Guard and Reserve members must answer 10 questions about support they receive from their employer. Questions target pay policies, benefits and leave policies, previous ESGR awards, supervisor training, ESGR advocacy, servicemember recognition, family support, deployed member support, hiring preferences and general military support, Bullock said.
The nomination form is posted on the ESGR Web site.
The 55 ESGR field committees will review all submitted nominations and verify the employer information received through the Web site. The ESGR National Ombudsman Team will then investigate all the nominations to ensure that employers are in compliance with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
Up to 15 2006 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards will be presented here on Sept. 19, Bullock said.
The Freedom Award is the highest in a series of Defense Department employer awards that include the Patriot Award, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Above and Beyond Award, and the Pro Patria Award.
Winners of the 2005 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards were Alticor Inc. in Ada, Mich.; Citizens Financial Group, Providence, R.I.; Eaton Corp., Cleveland; Enterprise Rent-a-Car, St. Louis; IDA Corp., Boise, Idaho; Los Angeles Police Department; Louisiana Department of Safety and Corrections, Baton Rouge; Pioneer Financial Services, Kansas City, Mo.; Ryland Homes, Calabasas, Calif.; Sears, Roebuck and Co., Hoffman Estates, Ill.; South Dakota State University, Brookings; State of Delaware, Dover; Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc., Torrance, Calif.; USAA, San Antonio; and Wachovia Corp., Charlotte, N.C.
These winners "set a high standard for all America's private and public employers," David Janes, national chairman of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, said in announcing the 2005 winners in July.
The companies were selected based on a variety of factors -- from providing pay differentials to extending health care, dental and life insurance coverage during employees' military mobilization, officials said. All have signed statements of support for the Guard and Reserve at the five-star level, which designates that they are strong advocates for the reserve components and role models for other companies.
"I cannot think of a better measure of the leadership and patriotism of a business organization than to be recognized for outstanding Employer Support to the Guard and Reserve," said Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey, keynote speaker at the 2005 awards ceremony in October. "And even more telling is that since the nomination has to be initiated by a Guard or Reserve member or family member employed by the company, it is truly driven from the bottom up."
The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award was initiated in 1996 to publicly recognize American employers who provide exceptional support to their employees who voluntarily serve the nation in the National Guard and Reserve who voluntarily answer the call to duty, Harvey noted.
Other ESGR awards also recognize employer support for their Guard and Reserve members and can be presented directly by the employee or an ESGR field committee member. Details about these awards are posted on the ESGR Web site.