Employer Support Of The Guard And Reserve (ESGR) sponsors an awards program designed to recognize employers for employment policies and practices that are supportive of their employees' participation in the National Guard and Reserve. All employer recognition and awards originate from nominations by individual Reserve component members. Depending on the degree of support, the level of recognition may rise to the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award

ESGR’s award 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 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 the public sector. A national selection board comprised of senior DoD officials, business leaders and prior awardees select up to 15 employers to receive the Secretary’s prestigious award.

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Patriot Award

Patriot Awards are awarded to individual supervisors, not to an entire staff or organization as a whole. You may nominate as many supervisors as you would like, and each will receive a Patriot Award certificate (framed or unframed) and accompanying lapel pin. You may request a Patriot award be sent to either your home address or to the ESGR State Committee in your supervisor's state, which can help you arrange the presentation of the award to your supervisor. While some Reservists and Guardsmen may have an opportunity to nominate their supervisor at an ESGR briefing, the best way to nominate is online. The average turnaround time for the Patriot Award to reach the address provided is 45 days from the date of submission.

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Spouse Patriot Award

The spouse of a Reservist or Guardsman may also nominate their boss for the Patriot Award! Though not required by law, many employers voluntarily assist Guard and Reserve spouses who often share the challenges of military service. Childcare, managing the household, and work schedules often have to be adjusted when one spouse leaves to serve our country.

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Seven Seals Award

The Seven Seals Award is the broadest and most inclusive award given by ESGR and is presented at the discretion of the State Chair or by ESGR senior leadership. The Seven Seals Award is in recognition of significant individual or organizational achievement, initiative, or support that promotes and supports the ESGR mission, to include the efforts of the more than 4,700 volunteers who carry out ESGR’s mission across the Nation on a daily basis.

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Above and Beyond Award

The Above and Beyond Award is presented by ESGR State Committees to recognize employers at the local level who have gone above and beyond the legal requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) by providing their Guard and Reserve employees additional, non-mandated benefits such as differential or full pay to offset lost wages, extended health benefits, and other similar benefits. The award is given in limited numbers by state committees to employers who have had at least one of their supervisors/managers recognized with a Patriot Award, and who have signed or agree to sign a statement of support (SoS). State committees are authorized maximum discretion in considering an Above and Beyond award (or other) for Patriot Award nominations of smaller firms, those with no individual supervisors specified, and other similar situations.

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Pro Patria Award

ESGR’s Pro Patria Award is presented annually by each ESGR State Committee to one small, one large and one public sector employer in their state or territory. Recipients have demonstrated the greatest support to Guard and Reserve employees through their leadership and practices, including adopting personnel policies that make it easier for employees to participate in the National Guard and Reserves. This is the highest level award that may be bestowed by a state ESGR committee.

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Extraordinary Employer Support Award

ESGR’s Extraordinary Employer Support Award was created to recognize sustained employer support of the National Guard and Reserve Service. Only prior recipients of the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award or the Pro-Patria Award, who have demonstrated sustained support for three years after receiving one of those awards, are eligible for consideration at the committee level. Subsequent awards can be given in three-year increments from the initial award.

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