Defense officials will honor 15 employers Friday for going "far beyond" what the law requires to support their National Guard and rReserve employees.
The employers, large and small from across the country, were selected from among 2,960 nominations received from members of the Guard and reserves, according to a Defense Department statement.
The recipients are:
- Black Hills Corp., Rapid City, South Dakota, nominated by Army National Guard Sgt. Corey Virtue. The energy company serving 784,000 customers in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming is recognized for providing support to military employees and their families during military leave, including yard work, child care and snow removal.
- Boise (Idaho) Fire Department, nominated by Marine Reserve Capt. Nathan Ingram. Over 30 percent of the workforce is Guard or reserve members, or veterans. The department has appointed a military liaison to help military members and their families, to include providing IT support to ensure family members can communicate with deployed loved ones.
- BP America Inc., Houston, nominated by Army National Guard Capt. Justin Kelso. The oil and gas producer’s Veterans Business Resource Group has more than 500 members helping veterans and their families influence BP’s organizational values. BP prioritizes hiring service members and veterans.
- Cardinal Health, Dublin, Ohio, nominated by Army National Guard Maj. Christopher Butsky. The Fortune 21 company supports the military and veterans through its Veterans Leadership and Career Development Program and its Veterans & Military Advocates Employee Resource Group. The company’s Troops Care Package Event has delivered nearly 5,000 care packages and received over $54,000 in donations since 2008.
- Cigna, Bloomfield, Connecticut, nominated by Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Emily Morel. The global health services organization conducts welcome-home celebrations and an annual veterans event, and promotes the hiring of veterans and service members.
- City of Glendale, Arizona, nominated by Navy Reserve Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Valenzuela. The city employs more than 70 guardsmen, reservists and veterans in the police department alone. It offers veterans hiring preference, has a robust reintegration program for returning service members, and recently increased its paid military leave policy.
- City of Shawnee, Kansas, nominated by Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Douglass Simms. The city has systematic policies to take care of and honor its reserve component members and families, including continuing benefits during deployment, providing differential pay, sending care packages and celebrating returning service members.
- College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Missouri, nominated by Army National Guard Lt. Col. James Schreffler. When employees are deployed, the college provides support such as extending full benefits and pay, sending care packages and caring for family members.
- CVS Health, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, nominated by Air National Guard Maj. Alice Pagliarini. CVS sponsors veteran and service member hiring initiatives and was one of the first companies to pilot a military occupational code translator to help match military skills with its civilian job postings. It also created the VALOR Support Group to foster a veteran-welcoming work environment.
- Devon Energy, Oklahoma City, nominated by Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Ward. The oil and natural gas exploration and production company promotes veteran and service member hiring, and recently established a Junior Military Officer project to hire military personnel with junior officer skills and experience. It focuses on developing engineering officers for operations engineering, reservoir engineering and drilling engineering.
- Dr. Joe A. Jackson, Biloxi, Mississippi, nominated by Army National Guard Spc. Christopher Goff. Jackson, who has been in practice for over 25 years, pays the service member’s salary and provides care and medical support for the family at no cost, while the service member is deployed. He promotes veteran hiring initiatives, and all service-affiliated patients get head-of-the-line privileges in his office.
- Neil, Dymott, Frank, McFall, Trexler, McCabe & Hudson (law firm) , San Diego, nominated by Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Robert Olson. The firm keeps in touch with deployed service members and their families through frequent emails and phone calls, and provides differential pay and continues all benefits for military service greater than 12 months.
- Snell and Wilmer (law firm), Phoenix, nominated by Marine Reserve Lt. Col. Richard Erickson. The firm provides pro bono legal services to Guard and reserve members and veterans during annual veterans stand-down events and on a day-to-day basis for those who are income-qualified. It views military service as a major plus in hiring new attorneys, and more than 35 staff members are in the Guard, reserves, or are veterans.
- Town of Hingham, Massachusetts, nominated by Navy Reserve Petty Officer 3rd Class Keith Jermyn. The town council reimburses shipping costs for spouses’ care packages sent to deployed employees. Town employees ensure family members are safe at home and supported through any household emergencies. The town provides differential pay and continues employee benefits for the duration of a deployment.
- Walt Disney Co., Burbank, California, nominated by Air National Guard Lt. Col. Vincent Pagliuca. Disney provides military hiring preference, and extends benefits and differential pay to employees during deployments. Returning service members are honored by being named grand marshal of a Magic Kingdom Main Street Parade. Disney was one of the first theme parks to offer free and discounted tickets for military members, and created the resort Shades of Green for the nation’s military.