June 25, 2013
CONTACT: Beth Sherman 571-372-0705

Department of Defense Announces Richland County Sheriff’s Department as 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Recipient

South Carolina Employer Among Fifteen to Receive Nation’s Highest Honor for Supporting
Guard and Reserve Employees

ARLINGTON, Va. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, announced today that Richland County Sheriff’s Department of Columbia, S.C. is one of 15 recipients of the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award . The Freedom Award is the DoD’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of Guard and Reserve employees. These employers distinguished themselves among the 2,899 nominations received from Guardsmen and Reservists. The 2013 recipients will be honored at the 18th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on September 26, 2013.

“I commend and thank the 15 recipients of the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for providing exceptional support to our Citizen Warriors,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “So many of our Nation’s employers are finding ways to contribute to our Nation’s security, but these employers stand out for their commitment to our Guardsmen and Reservists. They have the gratitude and thanks of the entire Department of Defense.”

Richland County Sheriff’s Department was nominated by a member of the Army National Guard. The nominator reported the Richland County Sheriff’s Department ensures deployed service members and their families are contacted every month by a regional leader and a Sheriff’s Chaplain, and deputies regularly visit families’ homes to provide assistance. The Sheriff’s Department found part-time work in the office for the nominator’s spouse when she was laid off during his deployment. They also held a promoted position open for the nominator until he returned from his deployment.

The 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award recipients are:

Employer Location
Albuquerque Fire Department: Albuquerque, N.M.
Bank of America: Charlotte, N.C.
C.W. Driver: Pasadena, Calif.
City of Columbus: Columbus, Ohio
Colorado Springs Utilities: Colorado Springs, Colo.
DaVita, Inc.: Denver, Colo.
Eastman Chemical: Kingsport, Tenn.
Family Allergy & Asthma: Louisville, Ky.
Humana: Louisville, Ky.
Pape-Dawson Engineers, Inc.: San Antonio, Texas
Richland County Sheriff’s Department: Columbia, S.C.
Safeway Inc.: Pleasanton, Calif.
Steel Plate Fabricators: Knoxville, Tenn.
U.S. Bank : Minneapolis, Minn.
U.S. Marshals Service: Washington, D.C.

Since 1996, only 175 employers have received the Freedom Award. Previous awardees have met with the President and Vice President of the United States, and the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

About ESGR and the Freedom Award:
The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. ESGR develops and maintains employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers. Paramount to ESGR’s mission is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.

For individual employer releases, visit under the Media Tab in the Press Releases section. For interviews regarding the Freedom Award, please contact Beth Sherman, ESGR Public Affairs, at 571-372-0705 or by email at