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Samantha L. Quigley, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2008 –
The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve has opened nominations for its 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. National Guardsmen, reservists and their families have until Jan. 19 to nominate employers they believe have gone above and beyond requirements in their support of military employees.
“In the past, recipients of the Freedom Award have provided full salary, continuation of benefits, or care packages -- even family support -- to employees fulfilling their military obligation,” said Beth Sherman, an ESGR spokeswoman.
Sherman noted that while some past Freedom Award winners have been large corporations, even small companies have proven to be especially supportive of their reserve-component employees.
“This year for example, we had Robinson Transport, … a small, family-owned business out of Utah,” she said. “They had, out of their 150 employees, five deployed.”
The company purchased each of the deployed employees a laptop computer for use while they were gone and contributed $5,000 so they could upgrade their Internet connections at home. They even provided $1,000 a month to supplement their deployed employees’ household incomes for the duration of their deployments.
“They also provided full life, health, and dental insurance benefits and kept everything going for them to be able to go out and do their job without having to worry about their family or their bills back home,” Sherman said. “That’s kind of above and beyond … what is required by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.”
Robinson Transport was one of 2,199 employers nominated for the 2008 awards. That number represents a 97 percent increase over the number of nominations in 2007, Sherman said. Since nominations for the 2009 awards opened Nov. 3, 628 nominations have come in, putting ESGR on track to surpass last year’s record number.
Recipients of the 2009 award will be announced in the spring and honored during the 14th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony Sept. 17 in Washington.
The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award was established in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional employer support.
ESGR, a Defense Department agency, was established in 1972 with a mission of gaining and maintaining support for Guardsmen and reservists by recognizing outstanding support, increasing the awareness of the law, and resolving conflicts through media.
More information about the 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, as well as nomination forms, can be found at www.FreedomAward.mil.