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
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
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 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.