Senator John ThuneOver 3000 people in our state serve in the South Dakota National Guard. In addition to serving their state and the nation, most of these men and women have full time jobs in our communities. Balancing both service to country and a career can often be a challenge.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes our Guard and Reserve members' need for supportive employers who understand the great demands on soldiers and their families. The DoD's Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program established the Secretary of Defense Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to employers. This award is given to employers who recognize the challenges facing our Guard and Reserve members and take steps to accommodate these men and women.
In order to be considered for the award, Guard and Reserve members or their families nominate businesses that offer outstanding support for our servicemen and women as reflected in their workplace policies and environments. I encourage South Dakotans who have witnessed this type of support, understanding, and compassion for our soldiers and their families to nominate businesses for this year's award.
The 2011 nomination season for the Freedom Award is underway, but there is still time for you to turn in your nomination before it closes on January 17, 2011. For more information on the Freedom Award, please visit www.FreedomAward.mil.
National Guard and Reserve units play a vital role in our military's ability to keep our country safe and free, regularly deploying to combat zones. We are ever-grateful to our Guard and Reserve members who take up the call of duty to protect their fellow South Dakotans, and their country. And we applaud all South Dakota employers who support these soldiers' commitment to our nation.