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Reward your Employer’s Support

Many civilian employers are very supportive of the National Guard and its mission. They go out of their way to help guardsmen when they’re called to service – sometimes even providing aid to Guard families – and they gladly welcome guardsmen back to work when they return to civilian life.

If you want to show your appreciation for an employer like this, you can nominate them for two Department of Defense ESGR awards: the Patriot Award and the Freedom Award.

About the Patriot Award

The Patriot Award recognizes individual bosses or supervisors who make a special effort to support citizen warriors through measures that include flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed. An employee serving in the National Guard, or the spouse of a Guard member, may make the nomination, and recipients will receive a Patriot Award certificate and lapel pin.

How to nominate your employer

For both speed of processing and accuracy in the nomination process, nominate your employer online. (Nominations may also be sent to ESGR by mail using a downloadable form.) Explain in detail why your employer deserves to be recognized.

Below are examples of what America’s most supportive employers do. Consider these examples in writing the narrative of your nomination form, citing as many ways as may apply, and include other ways your employer supports your service.

Supportive employers:

  1. Demonstrate support for service in the National Guard

    • Maintain contact with Guard employees while they are on annual training or mobilized
    • Participate in ESGR programs (Statement of Support signings, Employer Briefings, Bosslifts and others)
  2. Publicly acknowledge the contributions of Reserve Component employees to our nation’s defense

    • Sponsor a company Guard recognition day
    • Feature guardsmen on company bulletin boards, in newsletters or at meetings
  3. Support Guard employees beyond USERRA requirements

    • Have a published leave policy
    • Have a published military mobilization policy
    • Provide pay differential during periods of military training
    • Provide pay differential during mobilizations
    • Provide paid military leave
    • Provide continuation of insurance and monetary benefits during mobilizations
  4. Support Guard employee families during mobilizations

    • Assign a company sponsor to families of Guard employees that have been deployed
    • Hold an informational meeting and offers other means of communication for family members of Guard employees who have been deployed.

Help your employer get credits for supporting your service

The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard conducts an awards program designed to recognize employers who support a strong National Guard force. Employers qualify for recognition when they practice leadership and personnel policies that support employee participation in the Guard.

Every employer nominated for recognition will receive the Patriot Award, and will then be eligible for consideration for other awards and recognition based on their level of support described in the nomination narrative.

If your local ESGR Committee has agreed to personally present all Patriot Awards in the state or territory, the award for your employer will be sent to the committee awards coordinator, who will contact your employer to arrange the presentation. If your local committee is unable to personally make the presentation, the award will be sent directly to you or to your unit. The award will include an information sheet with suggestions on how to best present the award. If you choose to have the award sent to your unit or home address, ESGR strongly encourages you to contact your local Employer Support Specialist to assist in making the award presentation to your employer a special event.

Due to the heavy volume of requests, please allow 30-45 days to receive your award.

About 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. 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.

Nominations must come from a Guard member who is employed by the organization they are nominating, or from a family member. The nomination season opens the first working day of November and closes the third Monday of January.

For the latest list of Freedom Award recipients, go to


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