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SECDEF Employer Support Freedom Award nomination season open now

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WASHINGTON – The Department of Defense is pleased to announce the 2021 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award nomination season opens Oct. 1, 2020. The award, commonly referred to as the Freedom Award, is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for exemplary support of their National Guard and Reserve employees.

Do you have a story to tell about how exceptional your employer’s support is to Guard and Reserve service members? If your employer goes above and beyond to support Guardsmen or Reservists, nominate them for the 2021 Freedom Award! Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Adam Craig’s employer provides an exceptional amount of flexibility, resources and support, making it easy to strike a balance between his dual obligations. U.S. Marine Corps Reservist Maj. Sam Johnson wrote that all Reserve Component employees at his company receive full pay and entitlements when they drill or conduct annual training without having to take time off. And, Massachusetts Army National Guard Lt. Col. Richard Cipro’s employer provides 40 paid military leave days per year and works hard to maintain close contact with deployed members and their families.

These are stories from just a few of the employers who received the Freedom Award. Of the 2,623 employers nominated by their Guard and Reserve employees, just 15 became recipients in 2020. Nomination season runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020.

To submit a nomination, visit and click the “Nominate Employer” box on the home page to access the form and additional information on the award and process. Nominations must come from a Guard or Reserve service member, or their family members, employed by the organization they are nominating. Service members can nominate large and small employers from a broad cross-section, including health, transportation, hospitality, entertainment, banking, service, non-profit, and security, as well as from federal, state and local government agencies.

The Freedom Award was established in 1996 and is administered by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional employer support, with 295 honorees to date. Learn more at

ESGR is a Department of Defense program within the Defense Personnel and Family Support Center that develops and promotes supportive work environments for Service members in the Reserve Components through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. It also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers. Learn more at: