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Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award

ESGR’s awards program culminates with the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award (ESFA), 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 Employer Support 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 public sector. A National finalist board comprised of senior DoD officials and other stakeholders, may recommend to the Secretary of Defense up to 15 ESFAs to employers to receive the Secretary’s prestigious award.

Since the Freedom Award was instituted in 1996, 340 employers have been honored with this prestigious award. The award is formally presented at the recipients location of choice by ESGR State Committee leadership. As part of the annual recognition, the President also signs a proclamation for "National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week," highlighting the sacrifices of our Guard and Reserve members and their families, and the outstanding support they receive from employers. 

You can nominate your employer for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award and learn more about current and past recipients by going to