Nomination season opens for 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Published Nov. 6, 2009 By Maj. Melissa Phillips ARLINGTON, Va -- Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency, today announced the opening of the nomination season 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 provided exceptional support of military employees above the federal law requirements. Nominations will be accepted at www.FreedomAward.mil from November 2, 2009 to January 18, 2010. The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their outstanding support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. The 2010 recipients will be announced in the spring and honored in Washington, D.C. at the 15th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony on September 23, 2010. Recipients of the 2009 Freedom Award met privately with President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Dr. Jill Biden, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Dennis McCarthy presented the awards at a ceremony attended by members of Congress and senior government and military officials. 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 National Guard and Reserve. 2009 honorees ranged from AeroDyn Wind Tunnel, LLC, a small automotive racing wind tunnel testing company in North Carolina to large businesses including Microsoft and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals to Santa Ana, California Police Department, a public sector employer. Past recipients of the Freedom Award have provided significant support including full salary, continuation of benefits, 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. "There is much excitement surrounding the 15th anniversary of the Freedom Award," noted acting ESGR Executive Director Ms. Polli Brunelli, "and we're enthusiastic to begin selection of the 2010 recipients from amongst all of the heartfelt nominations that will be submitted by thousands of proud Citizen Warriors." ESGR is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972. Its mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law and resolving conflicts through mediation. For questions regarding the Freedom Award nomination process, please visit www.FreedomAward.mil or contact Maj. Melissa Phillips, ESGR Public Affairs, at 703-380-9262.