KINSTON, N.C. — For members of the National Guard and military reserves, employer support is crucial.
For businesses, organizations and institutions that go the next level, there’s the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest honor given by the federal government for “outstanding support” of employees serving in the Guard or reserves.
North Carolina organizations brought home the award eight times since 2000. Deadline for a servicemember or one of their family members to nominate an employer for 2013 is Jan. 21.
“I think our employers recognize the value of hiring and having in their company servicemembers, because of all of the different attributes they bring,” said Darrell Johnson, program support technician for N.C. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. “And I believe there’s just a lot of patriotic employers in North Carolina. We’re very fortunate to have them, and even more fortunate that we can work with them and identify the great things they do, and get them presented the award.”
Johnson said he’d received about 65 nominations so far, and expects close to 100 as supporters of the ESGR get the word out.
State Employees’ Credit Union won the award in 2011, and ECU and Food Lion were honored in 2010.
“SECU has always considered it a privilege to serve those members who protect and defend our freedom,” said Leigh Brady, SECU senior vice president of education services, in an email. “Our ‘people helping people’ philosophy is exhibited on a daily basis with our members — we serve N.C. National Guard soldiers and their immediate family members — with our support of our employee-reservists, through the SECU Foundation’s various military focused projects, and through our participation in programs designed to help find jobs for veterans.”
Mary Schulken, executive director of communication, public affairs and marketing at ECU, said the award was “a big deal” for the university.
“Because of where we are, in Eastern North Carolina, with really four major military installations within very close reach, we have a long-standing relationship with serving military in our staff and faculty,” Schulken said. “Our faculty and staff make a real positive difference in educational programs and research, and in clinical services for the military.
“This award really was recognition of that, and more important, it made us really proud of the positive climate of support that exists across the university toward people who serve.”
If you’re a servicemember, or family of a servicemember, here's how you nominate an employer.
The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is a U.S. Defense Department agency whose staff and volunteers work to increase business support for servicemembers in the National Guard and reserves, and seek to assist in employment opportunities for servicemembers, veterans and their families.