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ESGR in the News


HORSHAM, Pa. – Pennsylvania Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, announced that Fulton Bank is a state finalist for the Secretary of Defense Freedom Award. The finalists for this prestigious award include small business, large private business and public sector employers, that are nominated by a National Guard or Reserve employee in their organization. Award nominations are accepted from all 50 states, Guam-CNMI, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and District of Columbia.

The Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the Department of Defense to employers for their exceptional support of National Guard and Reserve members. On behalf of the Secretary of Defense, ESGR runs the annual award program, which has presented the honor to employers since 1996.

The Department of Defense will announce up to 15 employers selected to receive the 2024 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award by mid-June. The recipients will be honored in a ceremony at the Pentagon in August. Award nominations are evaluated and awarded points based on the answers a nominating service member provides to eight criteria:

1) Service Member Support while performing military duties,

2) Family Support during military duty,

3) Pay Compensation policies,

4) Benefit Compensation policies,

5) Service Member Recognition,

6) Hiring Practice,

7) Uniform Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) awareness, and

8) previous ESGR Awards received.

Pennsylvania ESGR is particularly proud to forward Fulton Bank’s nomination for their strong support of their employees serving in our nation’s Reserve forces. The bank’s nomination was selected from the 18 service member submissions in the large business category.

Pennsylvania Army National Guard Col. Brett Gagnon nominated the Fulton Bank for the Freedom Award for their outstanding support of his military career. While Fulton Bank obtained the highest possible ranking for all eight evaluation criteria, three noteworthy comments in Gagnon’s nomination addressed Member Support, Family Support, and Benefits. Gagnon stated that corporate executives, managers, and coworkers all sent cards, letters, and gifts to him and unit members during his most recent deployment. Bank personnel also maintained contact with his family, providing gift cards and support to his wife and children. Fulton Bank provides outstanding benefits to Guard and Reserve members. Deployed service members receive 52 weeks of differential pay while maintaining family health, retirement, and investment benefits.

Fulton Bank’s nomination for the Freedom Award is highly endorsed by State
ESGR Chair Marty Kuhar who stated: “Fulton Bank ensures everyone understand the USERRA law. All supervisors are trained annually, USERRA posters are at each work site, and it is in the new employee handbook and on the company intranet. Numerous Fulton Bank supervisors have received a Patriot Award, Seven Seals Award, and Above and Beyond Awards. They have also attended an ESGR Boss Lift event and awards luncheon for which the received a PA ESGR Certificate of Support. Fulton Bank cares about their military members! Most importantly, Fulton Bank demonstrates their strong support for citizen soldiers serving in the National Guard and Reserve forces.” Kuhar also noted that Fulton Bank actively seeks to hire members of the Guard and Reserve, and currently employs over 100 members serving in the Guard and reserve forces.”

ESGR, a Department of Defense office, seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. ESGR facilitates and promotes a cooperative culture of employer support for National Guard and Reserve service by developing and advocating mutually beneficial initiatives, recognizing outstanding employer support, increasing awareness of applicable laws and policies, resolving potential conflicts between employers and their service members, and acting as the employers’ principal advocate within DoD. Paramount to ESGR's mission is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.

For more information about ESGR Outreach Programs, or ESGR volunteer opportunities, please call 1-800-336-4590 or visit Information about the Freedom Award can be found at

Posted in: Pennsylvania
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