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Five Companies Get Employer Support Awards

By Staff Sgt. Alicia K. Borlik, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 1997 – Five companies received the Employer Support Freedom Award Nov. 5 for outstanding service as employers of reserve component personnel.

Rudy de Leon, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, joined Deborah R. Lee, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, to present the National Freedom Award to Charles Machine Works, Inc., a Perry, Okla.-based construction company. Edwin Malzahn, company president and chief executive officer, accepted the award.

Charles Machine Works employs 16 reservists and a retired reservist. The company was cited for spending more than $80,000 for materials and labor to refurbish its local National Guard Armory. The company also covers the difference between reservists' military and civilian salaries and provides continuing company retirement and life insurance coverage while employees are mobilized or in training.

"We try to be flexible in allowing our people time off to train," said Malzahn. "They commit themselves, their time and a lot of effort in the service of our country, and we can do no less."

De Leon also presented regional awards to four other companies: ENTEC Services, Inc., of Peoria, Ill.; The Home Depot, Southeastern Division, in Tampa, Fla.; East Penn Manufacturing Co. of Lyon Station, Pa.; and Fred Meyer, Inc., of Portland, Ore.

The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve instituted the awards in 1996. All 24 employers considered were nominated by their own reservist employees, Lee said. The five winners were selected using four criteria:

  • Support of reservist employees through company policies and practices through time off for training and active duty;
  • Demonstrated pride and public acknowledgment of the contributions made by their employees to their service;
  • Willingness to support reservist employees beyond minimum legal requirements; and
  • Willingness to assist families before and during training and mobilization periods.

"Excelling in any one of these areas generally marks the employer as above and beyond the call of duty," Lee said, noting the winners had gone "way, way beyond all of these areas." Lee called them superstars in reserve support.

"We must never lose sight of the fact that [reservists] could never do what they do for us if it weren't for what you, the employers of America, do for them, the support you give to them. For that, we're very, very grateful," Lee said.

Though the companies' work forces range from 30 to more than 100,000, Lee said they share a common thread -- "They support their reserve employees and understand the increasing role reserve forces play in the defense of our nation."

"Today we rely more on the Guard and Reserve than ever before," de Leon said. "The peacekeeping force couldn't get in and out of Bosnia without the Army National Guard." In the past two years, more than 12,000 Guard and reserve personnel have served in Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Germany and Italy, he said.

There are more reserve component personnel than active duty. In a time of high demand and high personnel tempo, the Guard and Reserve are crucial players in the total force --de Leon said they must be fully trained and equipped to serve alongside their active counterparts.

"This integration is important," de Leon said. "We don't want to wear any one element of the force out by continuously deploying them. We want to make sure we use, using a sports term, 'the full bench.'

"We allow each member of the team to participate. This total force integration is essential to what we do. It means our active and reserve components are as flexible, interoperable and capable as our active duty forces."

Shifting to the employers, de Leon said, "We need your support so they can be there to participate and bring those vital skills to the battlefield. A larger role for the Guard and reserve translates into more sacrifices for them, for their families, and it also means that we need the direct support of the civilian employers."

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