CWU News

CWU Among Nation's Best for Supporting National Guard and Reserve Employees

ESGR Freedom Award 2019 bannerFor the second straight year, Central Washington University is among 30 national finalists for the Freedom Award, and the only one from the Pacific Northwest.

Each year, the Secretary of Defense Employer Freedom Award is presented to up to 15 public and private employers. The award program is administered by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a volunteer group that encourages employers to support those serving in the National Guard and reserves.

This year,  2,415 award nominations were submitted from 54 nominating committees throughout the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“The Freedom Award is broken into three categories: small business, large business, and public entity,” explained Wayne Hilton, Washington State’s ESGR Freedom Award coordinator. “What is shows is that these are the top of the top employers in the nation that support their Guard and reservists.”

Nominees must have documented support of Guard and Reserve employees through their leadership and practices, including adopting personnel policies that make it easier for employees to participate in the National Guard and Reserve.

Hilton pointed out CWU will also receive a state Above and Beyond Award during an awards ceremony at the upcoming Washington ESGR Annual Planning and Awards Meeting on May 4 in Olympia. This the second time the university has received that honor for its demonstrated commitment to exceeding the legal requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act by providing their National Guard and Reserve employees additional, non-mandated benefits such as differential or full pay to offset lost wages, extended health benefits, and other similar benefits.

The state award is given to employers that have endorsed the ESGR Statement of Support and have also had at least one supervisors or managers recognized with a Patriot Award, which acknowledging those individuals for specific support offered their National Guard or Reserve employees.

Nominations for both the national and state awards come from Guardsman and Reservists, or one of their family members, to recognize an organization’s backing for his/her military service. CWU was nominated specifically for its support of the Army National Guard. Hilton called such support vital to maintaining the country’s military readiness.

“Unlike in past years, the Guard and Reserve now provide approximately 48 percent of all deployed service members,” he added. “They’re in a rotation now, and units are in a rotation every four or five years to be deployed.”

Established in 1972, ESGR, an official United States Department of Defense program, is designed to promote cooperation and understanding between civilian employers and their military reservists in support of military commitments.

Following selection by United States Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the national Freedom Awards winners will be announced in late May.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,

This is the complete list and more information about the Freedom Award.