By Debbie Gregory.
The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, has selected 139 employers as semifinalists for the 2016 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, commonly referred to as the “Freedom Award.”
Almost half of the U.S. military is made up of National Guard and Reserve members, many of whom also hold jobs with civilian employers. The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.
ESGR organizes the annual award program. The award was instituted in 1996 by then Secretary of Defense William Perry, and has since presented the honor to 220 employers.
Each year, up to 15 awards are presented to employers in the three categories – large (500 or more employees), small (fewer than 500 employees), and public sector.
This year’s semifinalist group is comprised of 48 large employers, 46 small employers, and 45 public sector employers. The nomination process is open to all Guard and Reserve personnel or a family member acting on their behalf and applications are submitted online to ESGR.
“Each of these 139 semifinalists have given great support to our citizen warriors,” said ESGR Director of Outreach Navy Capt. Steve Knight. “They play a key role in maintaining the strength of the National Guard and Reserve, as they help take care of our troops and their families.”
ESGR received 2,424 nominations for employers in all 50 states, Guam-CNMI, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. This year’s 30 finalists are expected to be announced in April, with the recipients being announced in late June.
In 2008, ESGR launched a web site for the Freedom Award. Using videos, news articles, profiles of recipients, and tips about employer best practices, the site provides information about the support that employers across the nation provide to their Guard and Reserve employees and their families. The site also houses the nomination form for the award.