‘Second Lady’ Lauds Employers for Support of Military Employees
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2009 Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, commended 15 employers yesterday who, despite tough economic times, went above and beyond what the law requires to support their military employees.
Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, addresses the crowd gathered in Washington on Sept. 17, 2009, for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s annual award ceremony. Fifteen employers were presented with the Secretary of Defense Employer Support of Freedom award for going above and beyond what the law requires in support of their military employees. The event held personal meaning for Biden whose son, Army Capt. Beau Biden, is a National Guardsman serving in Iraq. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“Tonight we celebrate your good works and we thank you for the powerful example you set for all Americans,” Biden said during the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Freedom Award dinner here. “You have taken the extra steps by extending full pay to deployed personnel, by continuing health and education benefits to servicemembers and their families.”
The ESGR’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest award given by the government to employers for their exceptional support of employees serving in the National Guard or Reserve. Each year the organization presents the award to 15 employers in the large and small employer categories, and public-sector employers.
Biden noted that each of the employers has supported its employees throughout every stage of their mobilization. Employers -- like three of this year’s recipients: AstraZeneca, Consolidated Electrical Distributors and Louisiana’s Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Department -- organized, among other things, deployment and welcome-home events, sent care packages to employees, and initiated clothing and toy drives for children in Iraq.
Biden said she’s seen firsthand the power of this type of support and the effect it has on servicemembers and their families. She pointed out the example of Delaware Boots on the Ground, an organization that started as a group of military moms and spouses to support Delaware National Guard members and their families.
“Those of you receiving awards tonight have made a difference. You have shown appreciation and support for our troops and their families, and you have raised awareness in your own communities of their sacrifices and duty,” she said. “I want all of you to know that we are grateful for your special service and commitment to our nation. You embody the ESGR’s slogan, ‘We all serve.’”
Last night’s ceremony was personal for Biden, who spoke on behalf of the president and first lady, and her husband, who returned today from visiting troops in Iraq. The Bidens’ son, Army Capt. Beau Biden, is a National Guardsman currently serving in Iraq.
“I look across the room and … I feel as though we are family,” Biden told the crowd gathered for the ceremony. “We share the same concerns, the anxieties, the sense of duty and the pride that comes along with being a military family.
“Like all of you gathered here tonight, my family worries about our son and looks forward to the day he comes back to us,” she said. “Our family also knows what a difference it makes when people reach out to show support, whether in school, in the neighborhood or in the workplace.”
The following companies also received the Defense of Freedom Award:
-- AeroDyn Wind Tunnel;
-- The City of Cambridge Fire Department;
-- First Data;
-- FMC Technologies, Inc.;
-- Law Offices of Marks, O’Neill, O’Brien and Courtney, PC;
-- Microsoft Corporation;
-- The Mid America Kidney Stone Association, LLC;
-- The Ohio Department of Public Safety;
-- Perpetual Technologies, Inc.;
-- The Santa Ana [Calif.] Police Department; and
-- TriWest Healthcare Alliance.