The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is looking for a few good companies to honor for their support of employees called to duty in the National Guard and Reserves.

Between now and Feb. 28, nominations are being accepted for the 2006 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards. Committee officials hope to have 5,000 nominations, far surpassing the 1,500 employers nominated for last year’s awards, said Tom Bullock, who is helping coordinate the program.

The committee estimates that there are more than 200,000 employers in the United States who employ guardsmen and reservists.

To nominate employers, guardsmen, reservists or family members can submit nomination forms online at

Field committees will review the nominations, and can present up to three nominations per committee for review by the National Selection Board. Up to 15 employers will be selected as 2006 award winners.

The awards began in 1996, when then-Secretary of Defense William Perry began them to “publicly recognizes employers nominated by their employees … for exceptional support above the requirements of the law.”

Previous recipients have included Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Sears, GE, Verizon, and UPS. State and local governments and many small businesses, which make up the majority of National Guard and Reserve employers, have also been recipients.

The 2006 recipients will be honored at a Washington, D.C., ceremony in September.

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