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Photo Information

Maj. Samuel Johnson, second from left, executive officer, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, presents the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award to his civilian employer Duke Energy at the Pentagon, Aug. 24, 2018. The Freedom award is presented annually to the nation's 15 most supportive employers who have demonstrated exceptional support. It is the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to civilian employers for their support of employees who serve in the Reserve or National Guard. (Courtesy photo)

Photo by Sgt. Melissa Martens

Recognizing those who serve the Reserve component

30 Aug 2018 | Sgt. Melissa Martens U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve

Established in 1972, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program has promoted cooperation and understanding between Reserve component service members and their civilian employers. Taking the time to recognize civilian employers who actively show their support is essential to maintaining strong bonds with Reserve service members.

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is an annual award presented to civilian employers who have demonstrated exceptional support to the Reserve component. This year, Duke Energy was nominated and selected to receive the award at the Pentagon on Aug. 24, 2018.

“The Freedom award is the highest level award that the Department of Defense presents to civilian employers who take care of their Reserve service members,” said Brian LeBlanc, a Reserve component coordinator with Marine Forces Reserve. “Out of the hundreds of nominations that are received, only 15 are chosen annually to receive the award by the Secretary of Defense, so it is quite an honor.”

Duke Energy was nominated by Maj. Samuel Johnson, executive officer, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, for the constant support they have provided him when activated for duty or training drills.

When asked about what it means to receive the award, Lynn Good, the Duke Energy Chairman, President and CEO, stated how proud the company was to support the men and women who serve and sacrifice for the United States, and how essential support is so the service members can focus on their mission while away from home.

Just as it is crucial for civilian employers to support their service members, it is equally as important for the service members to recognize everything their civilian employers do for them. Keeping that support mutual between both parties leads to greater success down the road.

“Successful activations and deployments for a Reserve service member are never possible without the backing of their employer, LeBlanc said. “Having that strong bond and open line of communication between the two makes juggling both the military and civilian side easier and more effective.”

Often times, employers and employees don’t have all the information they need to recognize each other for all their support, hard work and dedication. This is where the role of ESGR becomes particularly beneficial, because it’s a great tool for both parties to see what opportunities are out there and capitalize on them.

For more information on how service members can nominate their civilian employers for awards, and for tools to strengthen the ties between employer and employee, please visit or talk to your Reserve component coordinator.