Banquet Honors Top Guard, Reserve Employers
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2005 America's employers are inextricably linked to the nation's defense, and their support is essential to fighting and winning the global war on terrorism, the secretary of the Army said here Oct. 15 at a banquet honoring the year's most supportive employers of National Guard and Reserve servicemembers.
Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey thanked businessmen and women for their patriotism and for giving the armed forces the support they need and deserve during the 10th annual 2005 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony in Washington, Oct. 15. Photo by Rudi Williams
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Fifteen of 1,492 nominated employers were selected to receive the 2005 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.
"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, the keynote speaker for the awards ceremony. "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."
Harvey said those who volunteer and answer the call to duty are willing to give more than they take. "They are driven, I believe, by love of country, a devotion to duty, and a willingness to sacrifice everything so others might live in peace and freedom," he said.
"But our soldiers and civilians, both here and abroad, can't do it alone ... and they don't," Harvey continued. "They accomplish every mission with the love and support from families and friends -- the American public."
He said this support is especially critical for National Guard and Reserve forces. "They are both essential to the strength of our nation, the well-being of our communities and our efforts in the global war on terrorism," Harvey noted. "For example, on any given day, the Army has well over 100,000 Army Reserve or National Guard soldiers serving on active duty."
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.
Everything in the world is changing -- the economy, technology, culture and American's way of living, the secretary said. "This is especially true of our national security," Harvey noted. "The threat we face today is not conventional. It is a threat of a different nature - different from anything the world has ever faced. As such, our military is very busy responding to the challenges of the global war on terror."
For example, he said, the Army has almost 270,000 soldiers deployed, stationed overseas or performing homeland defense missions. "And these soldiers and their fellow servicemembers from our sister services continue to perform magnificently," he said.
Harvey said in pitched battles at places like Samarra, Najaf, Fallujah, Tal Al Afar and Mosul in Iraq, U.S. soldiers and Marines are jointly defeating insurgents and are giving the Iraqi people an alternative to immoral, barbaric, ruthless dictators and terrorists who sow hate and intolerance and kill innocent civilians.
In both Iraq and Afghanistan, servicemembers continue their work against terrorists while facilitating reconstruction operations throughout the breadth of each country, Harvey said. And in the most telling examples of progress, he added, they have facilitated successful free and democratic elections in both countries.
Through selfless service and a commitment to freedom, our military continues to lead the way in defeating extremism, Harvey said. "Many of our young men and women have fallen along the way. We mourn them," the secretary said. "As a nation, we will never forget them nor the families they left behind."
Harvey thanked the business leaders and the organizations they represent for their unwavering support of soldiers, sailors, airman, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.
"The global war on terrorism has required the members of our armed forces to make great sacrifices, but it has also required the patience and commitment of those who support them - families, employers and friends," said Harvey. "Thanks to all of you for your patriotism, and for giving our armed forces the support they need and deserve."