Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has named this year’s recipients of the “Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.” Out of over 2,350 nominees, the award will go to 15 employers who support National Guard and Reservist employees. The recipients are as follows:

  • Texas Department of Insurance from Austin, TX
  • Duke Energy from Charlotte, NC
  • Dunlap Police Department from Dunlap, TN
  • Crystal Group, Inc. from Hiawatha, IA
  • AME Swiss Machining LLC from Lignier, IN
  • Greencastle Associates Consulting, LLC from Malvern, PA
  • ArgenTech Solutions, Inc. from Newmarket, NH
  • Werner Enterprises, Inc. from Omaha, NE
  • FMI Corporation from Raleigh, NC
  • Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office from Salisbury, MD
  • Amazon from Seattle, WA
  • Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania from Slippery Rock, PA
  • South Charleston Police Department from South Charleston, WV
  • Big Sky Advisors from St. Louis, MO
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation from St. Paul, MN

The National Guard and the Reserves are crucial elements to our nation’s defense — they make up almost a half of the entire military. However, it is not a position that can financially or logistically support an individual all of the time, as the Guardsman and Reservists are also regular, functioning members of society at large. Many companies do not go above and beyond to support those who might have to leave, possibly during moments crucial to the company itself, and serve their country — often in combat.

These companies were chosen from a list of nominees who were recommended by “citizen warriors” or their family members, who “provide exceptional support to their Guard and Reserve employees,” according to the Freedom Award website. That means these nominations are coming from the guys on the ground, not the big-wigs who run the show. There are a few awards given out by the Department of Defense in recognition to employers, but this is the highest honor they bestow.

At a ceremony at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Mattis said that, “It is my pleasure to recognize these 15 outstanding civilian employers. Our National Guard and Reserve members are a vital part of our national defense and deserve as much support as our country can provide. These 15 employers lead the way and we are grateful for their role in helping to keep our nation safe and secure.”

The first series of awards was given out in 1996, by Secretary of Defense William Perry. There were five recipients then, and as time went on the yearly list grew longer, particularly in 2004.

These awards are a recognition of those who would enable our Guardsman and Reservists to do their jobs in the military without hindrance, and without unnecessary stress that could prevent them from their essential duties to our nation.

President Bush, center, poses with recipients of the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, Friday, Sept. 19, 2008, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.