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Madison—Every year the Secretary of the Department of Defense (DoD) honors 15 employers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help employees in the National Guard and Reserves continue their civilian employment while serving their country in uniform.  In an effort to further Governor Walker's Wisconsin Works agenda, announced yesterday, a part of which is aimed at helping Wisconsin job creators partner with veteran job seekers, the Governor encourages Wisconsin National Guard members, Reservists, and members their families to nominate employers for the Freedom Award. 

""I encourage individuals currently serving in the National Guard, Reservists or members of their families to nominate their outstanding employers for the Freedom Award,"" said Governor Walker.  ""Wisconsin job creators that work hard to accommodate and honor those who chose to serve in the National Guard or as a Reservist should be recognized for their efforts.""

The DoD encourages all Guard and Reserve members to nominate employers who have provided exceptional support of their military service. Nominations may be submitted by service members, or a family member acting on their behalf, at through Jan. 16, 2012.

Additional information on the program and how to apply can be found on the official blog of the Wisconsin National Guard:

Wisconsin has a strong history of having employers who have received this award in the past such as Schneider National Inc., American Family Mutual Insurance Company, Miller Brewing Company, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Oshkosh Corporation, and Logistics Health Inc.

Below is DoD's detailed description and history of the Freedom Award:

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

Nominations must come from a Guard or Reserve member who is employed by the organization they are nominating, or from a family member.

The award was created to publicly recognize employers who provide exceptional support to their Guard and Reserve employees. It is the highest in a series of employer recognition awards given by the Department of Defense.

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. This award recognizes employers who provide the most outstanding support for their Guard and Reserve employees and is presented annually by the Secretary of Defense.

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award was instituted in

1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). ESGR is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972 whose mission is to gain and maintain 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.

Secretary of Defense William Perry authorized the first award in 1996 and presented it to Schneider National, McDonnell Douglas, United Parcel Service Central Florida District, Tektronix, Inc. and National Life of Vermont. In the years since, a total of 145 employers have received this prestigious award. Today, 15 awards are presented each year to employers in three categories, large business, small business and the public sector.

The nomination process ( is open to all Guard and Reserve personnel and their families and applications are submitted online to ESGR. A national selection board comprised of senior Defense officials and business leaders selects the award recipients.