Your Chamber’s Military Affairs Council was host to an inaugural gathering of Community and Military Outreach Directors for the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). We were honored to welcome the Reserve Component Service members and the civilian employers who support them and highlight San Antonio’s three Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Winners, of which we are extremely proud – USAA, Pape-Dawson Engineers, and Andeavor. Supporting our Guard and Reserve military service men and women and their families is vital to ensuring the security of missions here in San Antonio and around the globe. We can’t thank these employers enough for the support they provide to these men and women who work full-time positions in the civilian sector and have volunteered to also serve our great Nation.
ESGR, a Department of Defense program, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment. ESGR is supported by a network of more than 3,750 volunteers in 54 committees located across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam-CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Volunteers, hailing from small business and industry, government, education, and prior military service bring a vast wealth of experience to assist in serving employers, Service members, and their families. Together with Headquarters ESGR staff and a small cadre of support staff for each State Committee, volunteers work to promote and enhance employer support for military service in the Guard and Reserve.
This is the first time that the Directors have met in one location, and we were excited to show them why San Antonio is called “Military City USA”!
ESGR’s awards program culminates with the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their outstanding support of employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. Each year, Guard and Reserve employees, or a family member acting on their behalf, have the opportunity to nominate their employer for the Employer Support Freedom Award. The ESGR State Committees review nominations and submit recommendations to advance to the next round in each of the three categories: small employer, large employer, and public sector. A national selection board comprised of senior Department of Defense officials, business leaders, and prior awardees select up to 15 employers to receive the Secretary’s prestigious award.
Since the Freedom Award was instituted in 1996, 220 employers have been honored at annual ceremonies in Washington, DC. The ceremony is currently held at the Pentagon, with the awards being presented by either the Secretary of Defense or Deputy Secretary of Defense. As part of the annual recognition, the President also signs a proclamation for “National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week,” highlighting the sacrifices of our Guard and Reserve members and their families, and the outstanding support they receive from employers.
You can nominate your employer for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award and find out more information at www.FreedomAward.mil.
San Antonio’s Freedom Award winners were represented by USAA’s Dick Smith, Command Chief Master Sergeant, Air National Guard (Retired) and Military Affairs Relationship Director for the National Guard/Reserve; Sam Dawson, CEO Pape-Dawson Engineers and former Chamber Chairman; as well as Keith Casey, EVP, Andeavor and his team, including Duane La Bom, SVP, Talent Management; Jared Skok, Senior Director, Andeavor Foundation; Tony O’Campo (nominator for the Freedom Award); and Stan Lindquist, Health and Safety Assurance Coordinator.