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State Farm Earns Award for Support of Guard, Reserve Employees

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2008 – “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” is the insurance company’s advertising slogan, but it doesn’t apply only to the clients the company insures. It also reflects State Farm’s posture toward the reserve-component servicemembers it employs.

“In the military, the best leaders are those who always take care of their people, and it is no different in the civilian workplace,” said Gordon Sumner, executive director of the Defense Department’s National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. “State Farm has shown that it, too, takes care of its people. Its employees, who are also Reserve and Guard members, know the company is helping take care of their families while they are away serving this country.”

The State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is one of 15 organizations receiving the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for outstanding support of its employees in the National Guard or Reserve.

“State Farm and all its associates can take pride in this national recognition,” Ed Rust Jr., chief executive officer and chairman, said in a statement published on the company’s Web site. “But the real salute goes to our colleagues who serve in the National Guard and Reserves, and especially those dozens from across the country and across the company who are on active duty this very day.”

The nation’s top automobile and home insurer frequently participates in military job fairs and actively recruits military personnel for employment. The company also created the Military Affinity Group, a forum for employees to look at how military core values and perspectives can be used to positively affect and achieve business goals. The group promotes military support and awareness within State Farm and the community by publishing a support group guide with links supporting the citizen-soldiers and their families with deployments.

The group’s adopt-a-soldier program gives deployed employees and family members a “little bit of home” as State Farm frequently sends care packages to them. Additionally, 3,200 specially designed State Farm phone cards have been sent to servicemembers to help defray the cost of calling home.

While employees are deployed or on active-duty status, the company pays the difference between their State Farm salary and base military pay. For employees whose military service comes to an end, the company offers a reintegration program that assists employees in transitioning between military and civilian life, and participates community troop-support activities.

“I was first activated in December 2003 and demobilized and released from active duty in December 2006,” said Sgt. Maj. Eric Hill, an Army reservist and State Farm employee, who is currently deployed. “I was then mobilized for a second deployment in November 2007. In both cases, State Farm has supported my family and [me] during these times. You could not ask for a better employer or a better role model for other companies to follow.”

State Farm will receive the Freedom Award along with 14 other companies in a ceremony Sept. 18 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center here. The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional support from the employer community.

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Related Sites:
National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award

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