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NEWS | April 3, 2014

Nominations announced for top employer-support awards

By Beth Sherman Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

ARLINGTON, Va. - Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, received 2,864 nominations from Guard members and Reservists for the 2014 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

ESGR also said it received 466 nominations from members of the Air National Guard, a 25 percent increase in nominations from Citizen-Airmen.

The Freedom Award is the Department of Defense’s highest recognition honoring employers that support employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve. Up to 15 award recipients will be announced this summer and honored at the Pentagon in September at the 19th annual Freedom Award ceremony.

Even with troop drawdowns, service members are frequently called to duty to protect our Nation’s security and support humanitarian relief missions. Service members rely on the support of civilian employers, who provide reassurance and stability for these Citizen Warriors and their loved ones. The Freedom Award honors those employers who not only safeguard the positions of their military employees while they perform military duty or are deployed, but establish exceptional and generous initiatives that accommodate and care for employees and their families.

"These employers exemplify the true spirit of patriotism," said ESGR National Chair Paul E. Mock. "By supporting their National Guard and Reserve employees, the 2014 Freedom Award nominees demonstrate what it means to serve our Nation’s Citizen Warriors."

Last year, recipients met with President Barack Obama, who praised them for the exceptional support provided to their Guard and Reserve employees. Recipients also met with senior Defense Department leaders as part of the award recognition.

"These employers exemplify the true spirit of patriotism," said ESGR National Chair Paul E. Mock. "By supporting their National Guard and Reserve employees, the 2014 Freedom Award nominees demonstrate what it means to serve our Nation's Citizen Warriors."

Last year, recipients met with President Barack Obama, who praised them for the exceptional support provided to their Guard and Reserve employees. Recipients also met with senior Defense Department leaders as part of the award recognition.

Nomination season for the 2014 Freedom Award was held from November through January. This year's nominees represent employers large and small from nearly every industry, including airlines, grocery store chains, national retail brands and IT companies, as well as small businesses, and state and local governments. ESGR received nominations from Guard and Reserve members in all 50 states, Guam-CNMI, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. In the years since, 190 employers have been honored with the award. ESGR develops and maintains employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers. Paramount to ESGR's mission is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.

This year’s nominees represent employers large and small from nearly every industry, including airlines, grocery store chains, national retail brands and IT companies, as well as small businesses, and state and local governments. ESGR received nominations from Guard and Reserve members in all 50 states, Guam-CNMI, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. Semifinalists will be announced later this spring.