Nomination season comes to an end.

With the three-month nomination season for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award now in the rear-view mirror, ESGR officials now switch from receiving mode to processing mode.  With roughly 2,400 nominations received, the focus now turns to identifying the best of the best, a task that will culminate in late May, when this year’s recipients will finally be named.

The nominations from Reserve Component troops and their families came in from every state, territory and the District of Columbia, and the nominators serve in every branch of the Reserve Component.  The employers nominated ranged from large to small, public and private.

“These nominations represent the best kind of cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their employers.  Thousands of employers across this great nation have gone above and beyond what is required to provide exemplary support to our military men and women as well as their families,” said Navy Capt. Steve Knight, ESGR Director of National Operations and Plans. “Our job now is to identify the cream of the crop, those that have truly earned the prestigious Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.”

With all the nominations in hand, the state ESGR committees will now review them for completeness, and forward their state’s three best packages to ESGR headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Those semifinalists, up to 162 of them, will be named by early-March.

Once those packets arrive in Washington, the headquarters staff will narrow the nominees down to 30 finalists, who will be named in mid-March.

From there, a panel of military and civilian senior leaders from across the Defense Department will descend on the Pentagon to review the packets for each of the 30 finalists, and will recommend up to 15 employers for the award.  Upon the Secretary of Defense’s approval, the award recipients will be named in late May, and will be recognized at a Pentagon ceremony August 26, 2016.

Those employers will join the 220 previous recipients of the award, which is the U.S. government’s highest recognition for their outstanding support of Guard and Reserve employees.

“It is a painstaking process,” said Travis Bartholomew, Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, Family and Employer Programs and Policy.  “But we owe it to all the nominators and their employers to be as thorough as possible as we narrow the field down to those organizations that truly went above and beyond in support of their Reserve Component employees.  Having this many outstanding employers to choose from makes the selection process a real challenge.  But there are inspiring stories in each and every one of these nomination packets, and we look forward to sharing the best of them with everyone.”

By Maj. Chris Mitchell, FEPP HQ