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Immediate Release

Secretary of Defense Awards 15 Companies Employer Support Freedom Award

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter awarded today the 15 recipients of the 2016 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest honor the Department of Defense gives to employers for support of National Guard and Reserve employees.

"These 15 awardees are helping to make DoD and our country stronger," said Secretary Carter during the Pentagon award ceremony, which included a performance by country singer Lee Greenwood. "Today, more than ever, the commitment they’ve shown to our country, and to those who serve our country, is indispensable."

The 2016 recipients were selected from 2,424 nominations received from guardsmen and reservists, rising above other companies because of strong, direct-action programs to support service members and their families, particularly during deployment.  For example, one company pays service members up to 12 months of full pay while on military duty, including 401K and retirement plans. The company president also participates in “warrior yoga” with his employees to address post-traumatic stress and other service-related issues to establish a sense of well-being in their lives.

Other companies provided benefits like spousal support groups, free child care, relocation assistance, help with yard work while a service member is deployed and continuing health care benefits for families of deployed employees.

“We are honored to be able to recognize these employers that really go above and beyond for our service members,” said Paul Mock, national chair, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. “They serve as shining examples, ensuring the continued readiness of our guard and reserve forces."


The 2016 Freedom Award recipients are:

·       Alaska Airlines; Anchorage, Alaska; nominated by Air Force Reserve

·       Albuquerque Police Department; Albuquerque, New Mexico; nominated by Air National Guard

·       Benjamin Franklin Plumbing; Springfield, Missouri; nominated by Navy Reserve

·       Burford Corporation; Maysville, Oklahoma; nominated by Army National Guard

·       Carolinas Healthcare System; Charlotte, North Carolina; nominated by Air National Guard

·       Clackamas County Sheriff's Office; Oregon City, Oregon; nominated by Army National Guard

·       Delmarva Veteran Builders; Salisbury, Maryland; nominated by Air Force Reserve

·       FASTSIGNS International, Inc.; Carrollton, Texas; nominated by Air Force Reserve

·       Hope Valley Industries; North Kingstown, Rhode Island; nominated by Air National Guard

·       Idaho State Police; Meridian, Idaho; nominated by Army Reserve / Army National Guard

·       Lowe's; Mooresville, North Carolina; nominated by Navy Reserve

·       Maryland State Police; Pikesville, Maryland; nominated by Army Reserve

·       Prairie Grove Consolidated School District 46; Crystal Lake, Illinois; nominated by Marine Corps Reserve

·       Seattle Fire Department; Seattle, Washington; nominated by Navy Reserve

·       The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company; Akron, Ohio; nominated by Navy Reserve

The award was created to publicly recognize employers who provide exceptional support to their Guard and Reserve employees. It is the highest in a series of employer recognition awards given by the DoD.

Almost one-half of the U.S. military is comprised of the Guard and Reserve. The DoD shares these citizen warriors with their civilian employers, many of whom provide significant support to their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve. This award recognizes employers who provide the most outstanding support for their Guard and Reserve employees and is presented annually by the Secretary of Defense.

For more information on the 2016 Freedom Award program, visit For more information on ESGR, visit www.esgr.milVideo of the event is available here