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ESGR in the News


WASHINGTON ­– Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III named Yankton School District 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.”

Yankton School District 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.

Yankton School District supports their military employees with programs for National Guard and Reserve service members. The school district ensures uninterrupted pay, compensation and benefits during deployments; and goes above and beyond in its compassionate support of service members and their families.

“"The Yankton School District (YSD) continually strives to contribute to the well-being and success of the citizen-soldiers they employ as well as those that reside within the community,” said Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Zachary Campbell. YSD's devoted encouragement and support allows me to pursue opportunities and experiences that grow me as a leader within the South Dakota Army National Guard.” 

“We are honored by this nomination acknowledging Yankton School District’s commitment to our military personnel,” said Dr. Wayne Kindle, Superintendent Yankton School District. We take great pride in supporting our staff in uniform. We hope this nomination highlights the importance of employers standing with the Guard and Reserve in our community.”

James White, Chair of the South Dakota ESGR State Committee will present the award to the Yankton School District in a local ceremony.

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: South Dakota
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