WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2017 —
Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan today honored 15 companies with the 2017 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for their exemplary support this year of employees who also are members of the National Guard or Reserve.
The award is the highest form of recognition given by the U.S. government to civilian employers for their support of guard and reserve members and their families.
The annual ceremony, held at the Pentagon, included leaders from the DoD Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program, or ESGR, previous award recipients, current and former DoD personnel, congressional representatives, and guard members and reservists and their families and friends.
Shanahan also welcomed singer and entertainer Marie Osmond, who was raised in a military family and has entertained troops around the world, to the award ceremony to make remarks and introduce the deputy secretary.
“We really do, here in the Pentagon, do our best to take care and provide for our men and women but you and your organizations go the extra mile and you make our jobs easier,” Shanahan said.
“Here in the Pentagon we say leadership casts a long shadow. Your shadow is long. Your employees see it. The communities you operate in see it, and it manifests itself at this level as the will of the nation,” the deputy secretary added.
Best of the Best
For this year’s award 3,000 nominations were submitted and 15 exceptional organizations were recognized today.
Shanahan said the award recipients represent the best of the best and come in all shapes and sizes, from 40 employees to 150,000; from Georgia to Arizona, Wyoming to Massachusetts; from services to products, and he described some of what he learned about the companies.
Cargill Inc. offers its employees full pay and benefits over three times the requirement, Comcast NBC Universal has created a military concierge service to assist guard and reserve employees with transitions to and from activities and deployments, and Mesa Natural Gas Solutions, Zapata Inc. and Johnson & Johnson have adopted generous military leave policies that offer continuous benefits throughout deployment, the deputy secretary said.
Accordia Urgent Health Care & Family Practice offers free medical screenings to service members and provides full pay and benefits to deployed employees for up to a year, he said, Hensel Phelps Construction pays the difference between employee salaries and military pay during the entire period of deployment and training, and CSI Aviation offers scholarships to service members' dependents to help them meet their educational goals.
And, Shanahan added, an employee of Andeavor [formerly Tesoro] received a massive shipment of Fritos after mentioning to a supervisor back home that he missed them.SOT 2
“We see your shadow,” Shanahan said to the company representatives. “We win wars with capability. We win wars with people, and we win wars with will. We respect what you're doing, what you are giving and quite frankly what you inspire.”
Shanahan said the reason he wanted to learn about these companies and call them out is because the Pentagon appreciates their work.
“Today is about recognizing these companies, but we [also] remember,” he said. “We remember the people who give [and] we remember the people who support us.”
2017 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Recipients:
-- Accordia Urgent Care & Family Practice, Vidalia, Georgia, nominated by the Air Force Reserve.
-- Andeavor (formerly Tesoro), San Antonio, nominated by the Army Reserve.
-- Boston Scientific, Marlborough, Massachusetts, nominated by the Air National Guard.
-- Cargill Inc., Minnetonka, Minnesota, nominated by the Army National Guard.
-- CSI Aviation, Albuquerque, New Mexico, nominated by the Army National Guard.
-- Comcast NBC Universal, Philadelphia, nominated by the Air National Guard.
-- Hensel Phelps Construction Company, Greeley, Colorado, nominated by the Army Reserve.
-- Howard County Fire & Rescue, Columbia, Maryland, nominated by the Coast Guard Reserve.
-- Indianapolis Fire Department, Indianapolis, nominated by the Air Force Reserve.
-- Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, New Jersey, nominated by the Air National Guard.
-- Mesa Natural Gas Solutions, Casper, Wyoming, nominated by the Army National Guard.
-- Office of the District Attorney 18th Judicial District, Centennial, Colorado, nominated by the Marine Corps Reserve.
-- Renown Health, Reno, Nevada, nominated by the Air National Guard.
-- Salt River Project, Tempe, Arizona, nominated by the Army National Guard.
-- Zapata Inc., Charlotte, North Carolina, nominated by the Air National Guard.
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)