ESGR’s award program culminates with the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their outstanding support of employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. Each year, Guard and Reserve employees, or a family member acting on their behalf, have the opportunity to nominate their employer for the Freedom Award. The ESGR State Committees review nominations and submit recommendations to advance to the next round in each of the three categories: small employer, large employer and the public sector. A national selection board comprised of senior DoD officials, business leaders and prior awardees select up to 15 employers to receive the Secretary’s prestigious award.
Since the Freedom Award was instituted in 1996, 205 employers have been honored at annual ceremonies in Washington D.C. In 2013, recipients were personally honored by President Barack Obama at the White House. As part of the annual recognition, President Obama once again proclaimed National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week, noting “The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve demonstrate an unfaltering commitment to our Union and our people. On the field of battle and here at home, they place themselves in harm's way to protect our freedoms, our lives, and our communities.” Emphasizing the critical support employers provide, the President stated, “Alongside our Reservists and National Guard members, the employers who put them to work provide extraordinary support and flexibility. Our Nation is forever grateful to businesses that help service members advance their civilian careers, and ease transitions between military and civilian life.” You can nominate your employer for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award and find out more information at www.FreedomAward.mil.