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Nominations being taken for Freedom Award

The nomination season is open for the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. National Guard and Reserve members and their families are eligible and encouraged to nominate employers who have given superior levels of support to their military employees. Nominations will be accepted at the ESGR national Web site,, thru January 18, 2010. The Award is the U.S. government's highest recognition given to outstanding employers.

Almost one-half of the U.S. military is comprised of the National 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 Army or Air National Guard, or in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force Reserve.

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. The award is the highest in a series of ESGR awards that include the Patriot Award, the Above and Beyond Award, and the Pro Patria Award.

The selection process takes into consideration specific support provided by an employer, including pay policies, benefits and leave policies, previous ESGR awards, supervisor training, ESGR advocacy, service member recognition, family support, deployed member support, hiring preferences, and general military support.

The three categories for the Freedom Award as well as the highest state level award, the Pro Patria, are large businesses, state and local government agencies, and small and family owned businesses. Based on last year's nominations, the state committee awarded the Pro Patria Award to Microsoft Fargo, West Fargo Police Department, and the Floor to Ceiling Store in Bismarck. North Dakota's only Freedom Award winner was Ag Country International in 2006.

The 2010 recipients of the Freedom Award will be announced in the spring and honored in Washington, D.C., in September. Recipients of the 2008 Freedom Award had the opportunity to meet President George W. Bush; the 2009 recipients met with the Secretary of Defense.