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Officials Urge Guard, Reserve to Nominate Employers

Elaine Wilson, Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs

WASHINGTON - 01.15.2010Guard and Reserve members are encouraged to acknowledge their civilian employers' exceptional support by nominating them for a top Defense Department award.

Service members and their families have until Jan. 18 to submit their employer for a Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. They can nominate their employers online at http://www.freedomaward.mil/.

This award is the government's highest recognition of outstanding employers of the National Guard and Reserve. This year's top 15 employers will be announced in the spring and honored in Washington, D.C., in the fall.

The award is a "great opportunity for the secretary of defense to, No. 1, put his stamp of approval on the conduct of these great employees, and No. 2, say thank you for what they're doing because it's a direct contribution to national defense," Dennis M. McCarthy, the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, said yesterday in an interview with the Pentagon Channel.

"Employers who have supported us since 9/11 have almost exclusively, almost entirely, been wonderful, been solidly supportive," he added.

Past recipients of the award which have ranged from small businesses such as AeroDyn Wind Tunnel to large companies like Microsoft -- have provided significant support to their military employees, including full salary, continuation of benefits, care packages and family assistance, according to an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve news release. This Defense Department agency manages the award program as part of its mission to recognize exceptional support of military employees.

"We ask employers in this country to make significant sacrifices," McCarthy said, noting they do so without any direct compensation for their support. While employers gain valuable employees in their servicemembers, recognition programs offer a way "to formally say thank you," he added.

The program has received 2,000 nominations since Nov. 2, McCarthy said, but there's always room for one more.

"The only way to get an award is for a member of the National Guard or Reserve, or their families, to nominate an employer; that starts the process," he said. "We really encourage people to do that."

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