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Release No: 630-96
November 07, 1996

Remarks by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Deborah R. Lee - National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

Freedom Awards Presentation

The Pentagon, Washington D.C.

Nov. 4, 1996

Welcome! Secretary Perry and honored guests. I am Debbie Lee, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, and I want to welcome you here today for this very special occasion the first presentation of the Employer Support Freedom Award. This award will annually recognize an employer who has demonstrated extraordinary support for the National Guard and Reserve.

Increased reliance on the Guard and Reserve is at the very foundation of this Administrations's national security strategy. Virtually every day citizen soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and Coast Guard members are working alongside their active duty counterparts somewhere in the world. We must never lose sight of the fact that these individuals in the National Guard and Reserve are only part time military and full time something else -- they are the employees of companies like those represented here today, people with a vested interest in the communities across the country.

And we must also never lose sight of the fact that they could never do what we expect them to do in their Reserve military status with the support of their families and the support of employers like those we honor today. For this reason it is especially important that we recognize the contribution of employers through ceremonies such as this one today.

All 26 of the employers nominated for this award are winners in our book, but through regional and national selection committees, the five outstanding employers who are represented here today were selected as finalists for the Freedom Award. Let me share with you, briefly, the four criteria that were used in making this selection:

First criteria: willingness to support their employees in

the National Guard and Reserve through the company's policies and

practices concerning time off for training and active duty. Second criteria: publicly acknowledged pride in the contribution of their employees who serve in the reserves measured by such things as company recognition events, articles in company publications and other forms of public recognition. Third criteria: The company's willingness to go beyond the minimum requirements of federal law to take care of their reservist/employees primarily in the area of compensation and benefits; and, the Fourth criteria: Support for families both before and during periods of annual training and mobilizations.

It is now my distinct pleasure to introduce a man who has placed the readiness of the Total Force active, Guard and Reserve at the top of the Department of Defense's agenda. A real friend of the National Guard and Reserve and someone who truly appreciates the importance of employer support, the Secretary of Defense, the Honorable William J. Perry.

Secretary Perry: "Our military forces are a team -- a team that is in the game to win, and every player on that team must be an all-American." That was true when Omar Bradley first said it and it's true today. Every member of our armed forces -- active and reserve -- is a member of an all-American team. So, also, are the employers. They back our reservists and their families with all-American support.

America is calling on our reserves more and more. 267,000 reservists served in Desert Storm alongside our active forces to defeat an aggressor in the Gulf. Since then, just in the last few years, another 20,000 have been mobilized. Reservists helped Restore Hope to starving people in Somalia. Reservists helped Uphold Democracy in Haiti. And reservists have been a critical part of a great Joint Endeavor to give peace a new lease on life in Bosnia.

In this new era we rely on the Reserve Component. Today we are truly a total force. We conduct every significant operation as a total force -- with active component and reserve component. This means increased sacrifices on the part of reservists and their families, and it also means greater sacrifices on the part of our employers of the Guard and Reserve.

The Employer Support Freedom Award was established to recognize those sacrifices, and to honor those companies who have really gone the extra mile. National Life of Vermont grants extended leave with pay for deploying reservists and has created a special fund, along with a support group, to assist their families. McDonnell Douglas of St. Louis and UPS of central Florida provide continued company benefits. Tektronics of Oregon has created a special pay and benefits package. Our national winner, Schneider National of Wisconsin, has been a model of employer support during the Bosnia operation. It provided an array of benefits just as if the reservists were still working full time, and it reached out to their families with support services and a sponsorship program.

Winston Churchill once said that, "The reservist is twice the citizen." Employers who support our reservists are twice the corporate citizen. They take care of American business at home and they take care of America's Guard and Reserve as they defend our interests abroad.

On behalf of the President, I want to thank all of the employers of the Guard and Reserve. We are counting on you to continue to help keep America's citizens safe by keeping America's military strong.

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