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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 531-98
October 15, 1998

EMPLOYERS EARN NATIONAL RECOGNITIONFOR SUPPORT OF NATIONAL GUARD AND RESERVE

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Charles L. Cragin today in Pentagon ceremonies presented a Wisconsin-based property and casualty insurance company the National Employer Support Freedom Award for outstanding support as an employer of members of the National Guard and Reserve.

"We must never lose sight of the fact that our Reservists and National Guard forces could never do what we in the Department of Defense expect them to do without the support of their employers," Cragin said. "For this reason, it is extremely important that we recognize the contributions of employers, especially those who go above and beyond the requirements of the law."

James Klokner, executive vice president for administration of American Family Mutual Insurance Co., Wis., accepted the award.

"We are very honored to receive this prestigious award," said Klokner. "American Family recognizes the important role played by our country's Guard and Reserve, and the need for employers to support that role. We are proud to provide that support and applaud all other companies for their efforts, especially those receiving recognition today."

The Freedom award is sponsored by the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, or NCESGR, a Department of Defense organization that is headquarters to 54 all-volunteer committees nationwide.

More than 8,500 employers were nominated for recognition this year by their employee-reservists. State committees for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, or ESGR, nominated 25 of these employers for consideration for the Defense Department's highest employer support award.

A selection board of ESGR committee members reviewed the nominations and chose five finalists, representing each of the United States' five regional areas. A grassroots committee of weekend drilling National Guard and Reserve members then reviewed the finalists and selected the national winner.

Among those recognized as regional winners were American Airlines, based in Dallas; the Wiremold Co., a wire management systems company, based in West Hartford, Conn.; the Portland Police Bureau, Portland, Ore., and CSX Transportation Inc., a railroads systems company, based in Jacksonville, Fla.

NCESGR was chartered in 1972 when the U.S. Armed Forces were transitioning to an all-volunteer force. The committee was designed to minimize conflicts between part-time military duties and full-time civilian career responsibilities. Today more than half of the nation's military strength resides in the National Guard and Reserve.

For more information on National Committee for Employer support of the Guard and Reserve, call Lt. Col. Jeff Davis at (703) 696-1381 or visit their site on the Internet at http://www.esgr.org

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