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Nominations being accepted for Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award

National Guard and Reserve members and their families across Washington have the opportunity to give the gift of thanks to civilian employers who go above and beyond in support of their military service by nominating them for the 2011 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

The Freedom Award is the highest recognition the U.S. Government gives to employers for their outstanding support of employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. The award honors those employers who not only safeguard the positions of their military employees while they are deployed, but establish exceptional and generous initiatives that accommodate and care for these employees and their families. To date, 76 Washington employers have been nominated. Fifteen employers will be selected from across the United States and territories for the award to be presented at a ceremony on Sept. 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Last year’s recipients, a cross-section of large, small and public sector employers, met privately with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who thanked them for the exceptional support of their Guard and Reserve employees. Nearly one-half of the U.S. military is comprised of the Guard and Reserve, and supportive employees are essential to every Guard and Reserve service member who stands ready to serve their country in times of war or national emergency.

With less than a month remaining in the nomination season, more than 3,100 nominations have been received from Guard and Reserve service members and their families from across the nation. Service members and their families are eligible and encouraged to nominate employers that have provided exceptional support to the Guard or Reserve employee beyond the federal law requirements.

Nominations may be submitted at www.FreedomAward.mil through Jan. 17. The names of all nominated employers will be announced in the spring, and the 15 Freedom Award recipients will be announced in early summer.

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 to recognize exceptional support of Guard and Reserve members from the employer community. In the past 15 years, 145 employers from across the nation have received the award.

For questions regarding the Freedom Award or the nomination process, visit /www.FreedomAward.mil or contact Maj. Melissa Phillips, ESGR Public Affairs, at 703-696-1171, ext. 519 or by e-mail at ESGR-PA@osd.mil.

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