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ESGR in the News


WASHINGTON ­– Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III named Associated Bank one of the 15 recipients of the 2021 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, in recognition of the organization’s exemplary support for its National Guard and Reserve employees.   

“I am proud to salute the outstanding employers who have earned the distinction of being named Freedom Award recipients as we mark the 25th year of this highly coveted recognition,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III.  “The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve make significant contributions to our communities and our national security through their civilian and military careers.  We owe a debt of gratitude to these exemplary employers, who by valuing and supporting their employees’ military service, enhance the strength, readiness, and diversity of our National Guard and Reserve forces.”

Associated Bank, along with 14 other recipients were selected from 3,382 nominations received from Guardsmen and Reservists highlighting how their civilian employers went far beyond what the federal law requires to support them. Celebrating its 25th year, the Freedom Award began in 1996 under the auspices of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional employer support, with 310 honorees to date.

Associated Bank supports its military employees by ensuring leaders and managers at all levels of the company have thorough knowledge of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, going above and beyond its requirements.  Associated Bank has a robust military and veterans employee resource group, and engages its staff in ESGR events such as Briefings with the Boss, training, and other efforts to help foster understanding and support for their employees’ military service.  

“Associated Bank has recognized the value that my military service adds to my professional role,” said Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Irizarry, who nominated Associated Bank for the award. “They do not see it as time away from my job, but instead as a value add to my professional experience and skill set. Anytime I am away due to a training obligation, the support I have received has allowed me to focus on the mission at hand. This support has been paramount in insuring the high-level leadership and safety of my team and the accomplishment of our goals.”

Associated Bank’s Brent Tischler, executive vice president and executive sponsor of the Veteran Employee Resource Group, underscored how important National Guard and Reserve members are to their workforce. “Associated Bank is very supportive of our veterans and military personnel while they are serving in the National Guard or Reserve while on military leave and we are proud to be recognized for our efforts by the Secretary of Defense,” said Tischler. “To further support our veterans, our Veterans Colleague Resource Group provides a network for military veterans within Associated to collaborate on important issues facing the organization and the personal and professional development of its members. The group leverages the knowledge and experience of its membership to create awareness of the contributions of military veterans at Associated and in the communities we serve.”

Scott Legwold, Chair of the Wisconsin ESGR State Committee will present the award to Associated Bank.

For more information about the Freedom Award and this year’s Freedom Award recipients, visit To learn more about ESGR, visit

About ESGR

ESGR is a Department of Defense program that develops and promotes supportive work environments for Service members in the Reserve Components through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. It also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers.

Posted in: Wisconsin
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