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ESGR in the News


WASHINGTON ­– Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III named HCA Healthcare – Grand Strand Medical Center 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.”

HCA Healthcare – Grand Strand Medical Center, 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.

HCA Healthcare – Grand Strand Medical Center prioritizes recruiting and hiring National Guard and Reserve Service members, and publicly highlights their employees’ military service at special events.  In addition, they stay connected and take care of family members when their Service member is deployed, and offer differential pay during deployments.

“I am grateful to have been employed by Grand Strand Medical Center throughout the years,” said Army Reserve Spc. Roxana Banaduc, who nominated HCA Healthcare – Grand Strand Medical Center for the award. “The staff has supported me through my immigration processing and my military career as well. For example, when I had to leave half way through orientation to help on a COVID-19 mission up north I was granted more orientation time when I returned. My journey has been a complicated one from the start, but I could always count on them for anything I needed.”

Grand Strand Health’s CEO Mark Sims underscored how important National Guard and Reserve members are to their workforce. “To be recognized nationally as an organization which supports our colleagues’ military service is an accomplishment our whole community should take pride in,” said Sims. “We are honored that the same men and women who have chosen to volunteer to serve our country also choose to care for patients close to home. Their extraordinary service is a true testament to our mission, ‘Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life.’”

The award will be presented to HCA Healthcare – Grand Strand Medical Center, with recognition events tentatively planned in South Carolina, where Grand Strand Medical Center is located, and Tennessee, where HCA Healthcare is headquartered.

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.

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