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WASHINGTON ­– The 2023 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award nomination season opens October 1, meaning Guard and Reserve Service members across the nation can submit their exceptional employers for national recognition beginning October 1 until December 31.

Nominations for the Freedom Award must come from a Guard or Reserve Service member, or their family members, for the employer that employs the Service member.  

Service members may nominate large and small employers from a broad cross-section of America, including health, transportation, hospitality, entertainment, banking, service, and security, as well as from federal, state, and local government agencies.

There are many ways employers show their support for their military employees, as demonstrated by the current year’s award recipients.

North Dakota Army National Guard Sgt. Bleau Hoge submitted his employer, Gate City Bank: “I have served in the military for six years, and I have been extremely proud of serving my country,” he said. “I have also been so grateful for an employer like Gate City Bank. The bank takes great care to ensure that all Service members – team members, customers, and everyone in between – are treated with respect, dignity, and honor.”

H.J. Pertzborn Plumbing and Fire Protection in Madison, Wisconsin nominator Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Meierdirk, Army Reserve, said, “H.J. Pertzborn has unconditionally supported my family and me during my twelve years as an employee. I re-entered the military several years after my employment began and have extended my current deployment twice, turning a 12-month deployment into 29 months.”

Capt. Tom McAndrew, Navy Reserve, wrote in his nomination, “Coalfire has been unbelievable with their support of the military, guardsmen, and reservists. I’ve seen that for our employees, and I was able to experience it first-hand during my recent deployment. Coalfire provided continuous, meaningful support for my family and me.”

Of the nearly 2,800 employers nominated by their Guard and Reserve employees, just 15 became recipients in 2022.

History of the Freedom Award

  • The Freedom Award began in 1996 and is administered by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
  • The award recognizes outstanding employers who support employees servicing in the Guard and Reserve and draws attention to support from the employer community.
  • Only 325 employers have received the award.
  • More than 30,000 nominations have been received since 2011.

For more information about the Freedom Award, and the steps to nominate your employer, visit, then click on the “Nominate Employer” tab. To learn more about ESGR, visit

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