Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the 15 recipients of the 2016 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest honor the department bestows to employers for their support of employees in the National Guard and Reserve forces, according to a DoD news release issued yesterday.
"These 15 employers have distinguished themselves through their outstanding support of our guard and reserve members and their families," Carter said. "Without the unfaltering support of employers like them, the men and women of the National Guard and reserve would not be able to fulfill their vital roles in our national security strategy. It is a great honor for me to recognize these employers, and I congratulate them on their receipt of the Employer Support Freedom Award."
The 2016 Freedom Award recipients listed below will be honored at a Pentagon ceremony Aug. 26:
-- Alaska Airlines: Anchorage, Alaska; nominated by the Air Force Reserve;
-- Albuquerque Police Department: Albuquerque, New Mexico; nominated by the Air National Guard;
-- Benjamin Franklin Plumbing: Springfield, Missouri; nominated by the Navy Reserve;
-- Burford Corporation: Maysville, Oklahoma; nominated by the Army National Guard;
-- Carolinas Healthcare System: Charlotte, North Carolina; nominated by the Air National Guard;
-- Clackamas County Sheriff's Office: Oregon City, Oregon; nominated by the Army National Guard;
-- Delmarva Veteran Builders: Salisbury, Maryland; nominated by the Air Force Reserve;
-- FASTSIGNS International, Inc.: Carrollton, Texas; nominated by the Air Force Reserve;
-- Hope Valley Industries: North Kingstown, Rhode Island; nominated by the Air National Guard;
-- Idaho State Police: Meridian, Idaho; nominated by the Army Reserve/Army National Guard;
-- Lowe's: Mooresville, North Carolina; nominated by the Navy Reserve;
-- Maryland State Police: Pikesville, Maryland; nominated by the Army Reserve;
-- Prairie Grove Consolidated School District 46: Crystal Lake, Illinois; nominated by the Marine Corps Reserve;
-- Seattle Fire Department: Seattle, Washington; nominated by the Navy Reserve; and
-- The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company: Akron, Ohio; nominated by the Navy Reserve.
The 2016 recipients were selected from 2,424 nominations received from guardsmen and reservists. The Freedom Award was established in 1996 under the auspices of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. In the years since, 220 employers have been honored with the award.