Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, announced today that two employers in Arizona have been awarded the 2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

The City of Glendale and Snell & Wilmer LLP, a law firm based in Phoenix, were two of 15 employers from across the nation to receive the prestigious award. The Freedom Award is the Nation’s highest honor given to employers for exceptional support of Guard and Reserve employees

“These outstanding employers have not only earned this award, they have earned this Nation’s gratitude,” said Defense Secretary Ash Carter. “I am truly honored to recognize these 15 organizations for their unwavering support of our military men and women and their families. Their accomplishments are a vital piece of our National defense and a high standard toward which all employers of Guard and Reserve members should strive.”

The City of Glendale earned the award for a number of reasons, including:

  • The city employs more than 70 Guard members, Reservists and veterans just in the police department alone.
  •  Glendale has a robust reintegration program for its returning Service members to help them ease back into their civilian roles.
  • The city recently changed its paid military leave policy because of the frequent military service requirements of its employees.  Prior to the change, military personnel received 329 hours of paid military leave every two years, now they receive 329 hours of paid military leave every year.
  • The city has instituted a hiring preference for veterans specifically for its police and fire departments. Those departments created a Military Support Unit, which provides mentoring to military members preparing for the extensive interview process for public safety jobs. Additionally, Glendale ensures at least one military member is assigned to the interview board so they can put military applicants at ease and explain the differences between a public safety interview and an appearance before a military board.
  • Glendale has created a program for deployed military employees so they can be interviewed or tested for promotion opportunities while overseas, utilizing video teleconference technology.
  • The mayor coordinated the Glendale Stand-up program designed to assist Guard members, Reservists, and veterans with a wide variety of resources including employment and legal advice. The mayor also requested assistance from the Arizona ESGR/H2H staff to conduct a job fair during the event. This event has been conducted for the past two years and is in the planning stages with ESGR/H2H assistance for the fall of 2015.

Snell & Wilmer LLP earned the award for a variety of reasons, as well. They included:

  • Snell & Wilmer provides pro bono legal services to Guard members, Reserve members and veterans during annual events as well as to military personnel on a day-to-day basis if income qualified.
  • The first Veterans Court was implemented a few years ago with the direct help from several Snell & Wilmer attorneys. This has since grown to multiple courts throughout the state.
  • Snell & Wilmer has a military pay differential policy, which in most cases costs the firm more than $50,000 per attorney while on deployments.
  • The firm has more than members of its staff who serve in the Guard and Reserve or are veterans. Snell & Wilmer views military service as a resume-enhancer and as a major factor in favor of hiring new attorneys.
  • Snell & Wilmer provides sponsorship, scholarships, financial support and donations to several Veterans Service Organizations, exceeding $23,000 over the past two years, exclusive of pro bono legal services.

The 2015 Freedom Award recipients were selected from 2,960 nominations received from Guardsmen and Reservists for going far beyond what the federal law requires to support their military employees. The recipients are named below:

Employer Location Nominator’s Branch of Service
Black Hills Corporation Rapid City, SD Army National Guard
Boise Fire Department Boise, ID Marine Corps Reserve
BP America, Inc. Houston, TX Army National Guard
Cardinal Health Dublin, Ohio Army National Guard
Cigna Bloomfield, CT Air National Guard
City of Glendale Glendale, AZ Navy Reserve
City of Shawnee Shawnee, KS Army Reserve
College of the Ozarks Point Lookout ,MO Army National Guard
CVS Health Woonsocket, RI Air National Guard
Devon Energy Oklahoma City, OK Air National Guard
Dr. Joe A. Jackson, MD, PLLC Biloxi, MS Army National Guard
Neil, Dymott, Frank, McFall, Trexler, McCabe & Hudson APLC San Diego, CA Navy Reserve
Snell & Wilmer, LLP Phoenix, AZ Marine Corps Reserve
Town of Hingham, MA Hingham, MA Navy Reserve
Walt Disney Co. Burbank, CA Air National Guard

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996. These outstanding employers join an elite group of 205 previous recipients of the award.