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NEWS | Sept. 6, 2006

Department of Defense to Recognize Top 15 Employers of National Guard and Reserve Members

By National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON - The Department of Defense will honor the top 15 outstanding employers of National Guard and Reserve members with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve's (ESGR) 2006 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in Washington on September 21, 2006. Honorees include familiar names such as Starbucks and DuPont, public agencies such as the State of Vermont and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and small businesses such as Skyline Membership Corporation and the Fred Fletemeyer Company.

Thousands of National Guard and Reserve members from across the country nominated their employers for their exceptional provision of continued benefits, differential pay, family assistance and additional support to ease their transition from civilian employees to active military personnel and back. From those nominations, ESGR selected the 15 most exemplary employers from organizations large and small, public and private.

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award publicly recognizes employers for exceptional support above federal law requirements. It is the highest in a series of DoD awards that honor employers who provide excellent support for their National Guard and Reserve employees.

This year's nominees are making their mark in their states and across the nation as trend setters regarding how employers treat their National Guard and Reserve member employees. They have moved beyond simply supplying pay and benefits to finding new, creative and heartfelt ways to show their employees how much they support them.

Examples include:

AgCountry Farm Credit Services of Fargo, N.D., helped a deployed service member's wife with daycare, lawn maintenance, snow removal and other unsolicited needs.

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., reached out to Iraqi children at the request of their deployed employee and sent 50 soccer balls and pumps to Iraq to be distributed. The company also provided the employee with 100 percent of his pay and a laptop during his 18-month deployment.

Baptist Health of Little Rock, Ark., has 40 employees currently serving in the National Guard and Reserve. In addition to providing pay differential and continued benefits, Baptist Health provides a personal touch to supporting its employees such as throwing a dinner for their families while they were deployed.

More than 195 Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway employees are serving active duty and BNSF continues to have a personal connection with their deployed employees. President, Chairman and CEO Matt Rose traveled from the company's headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, to Bethesda, Md., to visit one of his conductors at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Cardi's Furniture of Swansea, Mass., sent a large quantity of surplus furniture to one of their deployed employees for his unit's use and the company regularly supplies deployed service members with laptops with video cameras to encourage them to write and send video home.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts looks out for not only their state employees, but for U.S. troops as a whole through a series of state-supported initiatives and programs to provide support and outreach to the troops.

Computer Sciences Corps (CSC) boasts employing 9,466 veterans worldwide and pays personal attention to its National Guard and Reserve employees and their families. The corporation provides employment opportunities for spouses of deployed military personal and even hired the nominator's wife to take his job while he was away. CSC supports their deployed National Guard and Reserve employees throughout the year, including personal cards from their chairman during the holiday season.

DuPont, headquartered in Wilmington, Del., provides tens of millions of dollars to support to National Guard and Reserve members each year in the form of pay differential, benefits and recognition programs, to name a few. The company is also a founding partner of the new Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, whose goal is to increase the “protection and survivability” of U.S. service members.

A small business of 20 employees, the Fred Fletemeyer Company of Colorado Springs, Colo., is solving construction problems worldwide by providing research and advice to their National Guard and Reserve employees overseas and assisting the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion, which used the company's valuable advice to successfully complete a project.

MGM MIRAGE of Las Vegas, Nev., provides “hero pay” to any activated Reservist, which includes full pay and benefits during the entire activation and for drill weekends. Employees whose primary income is “tip based” also receive their tip income as previously reported, making MGM MIRAGE the only casino company in the U.S. known to provide this kind of assistance.

Skyline Membership Corporation of West Jefferson, N.C., not only looks after their National Guard and Reserve employees, but their entire units, as well. After hearing an employee's unit was in desperate need of lightweight cabin cots to shield them from insects, sand, heat and other elements while they slept, Skyline sent 44 cots to Iraq within days.

With nearly 90 percent of South Dakota's Guard forces activated within the last four years, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) of Pierre, S.D., has felt the impact. GFP Secretary John Cooper, who oversees the department of more than 500 people, personally calls each mobilized service member and their family upon the employees' mobilization and return to tell them the GFP supports them and is available to assist with anything they may need.

Starbucks Corporation, headquartered in Seattle, Wash., gives their National Guard and Reserve member employees a taste of home by sending coffee overseas. Additionally, each Christmas Executive Vice President of Partner Resources Dave Pace sends a gift to both the activated Guard or Reserve employee and his or her family. He has also provided Mariner baseball tickets to these families who are local to the Puget Sound area.

The State of Vermont's Gov. Jim Douglas is a strong supporter of the National Guard and Reserve not only in his policies, but in his personal actions. The governor has attended nearly all the mobilization and welcome home ceremonies since he took office and even traveled to Iraq to visit the Vermont National Guard.

The Army National Guard sergeant who nominated the Sun Valley General Improvement District of Sun Valley, Nev., received a laptop from his company while deployed so he could communicate with his family and employer. The company's human resources department and board of directors kept in routine personal and telephone contact with his family while he was away.

About ESGR



Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972 whose mission is to gain and maintain active support from all public and private employers for the National Guard and Reserve. ESGR volunteers provide free education, consultation and, if necessary, mediation for employers of Guard and Reserve employees. For more information, please visit www.esgr.mil.

About the Award



Secretary of Defense William Perry instituted the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award a decade ago under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. The award publicly recognizes employers, who were nominated by their National Guard and Reserve employees for exceptional support above federal law requirements. This prestigious award is the highest in a series of DoD employer awards that include the Patriot Award, the ESGR Above and Beyond Award and the Pro Patria Award. Previous honorees include American Express, General Electric, The Home Depot, the State of Minnesota and Northrop Grumman Corporation.


Media Notes: To interview an honoree or ESGR spokesperson, please contact Rob Palmer at (703) 696-1386 ext. 535 or robert.palmer@osd.mil.

 

 

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