Nomination season opens for 2011 Secretary of Defense employer support Freedom Award Published Nov. 10, 2010 By Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Department of Defense ARLINGTON, Va. -- Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency, announced the opening of the nomination season for the 2011 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Guard and Reserve service members and their families are encouraged to nominate employers who have provided exceptional support of military employees above federal law requirements. Nominations are being accepted at www.FreedomAward.mil through January 17, 2011. The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for the outstanding support of their employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. The 2011 recipients will be announced in the spring and honored in Washington, D.C. at the 16th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony on September 22, 2011. Recipients of the 2010 Freedom Award met privately with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates while in Washington, D.C. Under Secretary of Defense, Chief Financial Officer Robert Hale and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Dennis McCarthy presented the awards at a ceremony attended by members of Congress, senior military officials, business leaders and the Guard and Reserve service members who nominated the award recipients. Almost one-half of the U.S. military is comprised of the Guard and Reserve. The Department of Defense shares these citizen warriors with their civilian employers, many of whom provide significant support to their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve. The 2010 recipients included CEOs from seven large American corporations, a governor, a mayor, a state police director, the chancellor of a university, and four small business owners. These and past recipients of the Freedom Award provide an outstanding range of support to these shared employees ,including maintaining their full salary, continuation of benefits, providing care packages and family assistance to employees fulfilling their military obligation. The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. "Every day we hear of employers providing outstanding support to the men and women serving in our Guard and Reserve and to their families," noted ESGR National Chairman Mr. Jim Rebholz. "Now, more than ever, we encourage these service members to show their appreciation by formally nominating their employers for this most prestigious award." ESGR is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972 whose mission is to develop and promote employer support for Guard and Reserve service by advocating relevant initiatives, recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of applicable laws, and resolving conflict between employers and service members. For questions regarding the Freedom Award nomination process, please visit www.FreedomAward.mil or contact Beth Sherman, ESGR Public Affairs, at 703-696-1171, ext. 539 or by email at ESGR-PA@osd.mil.