Department of Defense announces 2021 Recipients of Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award

WASHINGTON ­– The Department of Defense is pleased to announce the 15 recipients of the 2021 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest U.S. government honor to employers for support of National Guard and Reserve employees.

The recipients include small and large private and public sector employers nominated by a National Guard or Reserve Component employee employed in their organization. Celebrating its 25th year, the Freedom Award began in 1996 under the auspices of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional employer support, with 310 honorees to date.

“I am proud to salute the outstanding employers who have earned the distinction of being named Freedom Award recipients as we mark the 25th year of this highly coveted recognition,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III.  “The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve make significant contributions to our communities and our national security through their civilian and military careers.  We owe a debt of gratitude to these exemplary employers, who by valuing and supporting their employees’ military service, enhance the strength, readiness, and diversity of our National Guard and Reserve forces.”

ESGR received 3,382 nominations for this prestigious award for employers throughout the 50 states, Guam-CNMI, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and District of Columbia.  The recipients distinguished themselves by going far beyond the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA, to support their National Guard and Reserve employees.  Many offered enhanced pay and benefit packages; flexible scheduling and generous leave policies; and pre- and post- deployment support.  In addition, they implemented robust training to equip human resource professionals and managers to support their organization’s military serving employees; stayed connected to deployed employees by sending care packages; and took care of their employees’ families during deployments by assisting with household repairs, including them in company functions, or providing financial assistance.

The 2021 Freedom Award recipients will be recognized in local ceremonies by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve State Chairs.

The 2021 Recipients are: 

  • Associated Bank, Green Bay, Wisconsin (Army Reserve, Wisconsin)
  • Boyer Commercial Construction, Inc., Columbia, South Carolina (Marine Corps Reserve, South Carolina)
  • Cameron Glass, Inc., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (Army National Guard, Oklahoma)
  • HCA Healthcare - Grand Strand Medical Center, Nashville, TN, (Army Reserve, Florida)
    ‚Äč     (Grand Strand Medical Center located in South Carolina)
  • INNIO Waukesha Gas Engines, Waukesha, Wisconsin (Coast Guard Reserve, Wisconsin)
  • J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., Lowell, Arkansas (Air National Guard / Army National Guard, Arkansas)
  • Loftin Equipment Company, Phoenix, Arizona (Air National Guard, Arizona)
  • Marcus Construction, Willmar, Minnesota (Army National Guard, Minnesota)
  • Medtronic, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Army Reserve, Minnesota)
  • Nogales Police Department, Nogales, Arizona (Army National Guard, Arizona)
  • Phillips 66, Houston, Texas (Coast Guard Reserve, Texas)
  • Prudential Financial, Newark, New Jersey (Army Reserve, New Jersey)
  • Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, College Station, Texas (Army National Guard, Texas)
  • Village of Pewaukee Police Department, Pewaukee, Wisconsin (Army National Guard, Wisconsin)
  • Yankton School District, Yankton, South Dakota (Army National Guard, South Dakota)

For more information about the Freedom Award, visit To learn more about ESGR, a program of the Defense Personnel and Family Support Office, visit

About ESGR

ESGR is a Department of Defense program that develops and promotes supportive work environments for Service members in the Reserve Components through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. It also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers.