Iowans serving in the National Guard or Reserves who feel they’re well-supported by their employers are encouraged to nominate them for a national award. Dick Rue, of Des Moines, is field committee chairman of the Iowa Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, or ESGR. Rue says employers are obligated to do certain things for citizen-soldiers, like having a comparable job waiting for the soldier when they come home from active duty and are ready to return to work.
Rue says, “All employers are required to comply with the law but many employers, particularly Iowa employers, go above and beyond the requirement by providing supplemental pay, extended medical benefits, just a variety of things beyond that.” The highest award given to an employer by the U-S government is the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Rue, who is a veteran of the U.S. Marines, says the award is a big honor that’s reserved for only a select few employers.
“We, as part of our ESGR program, try to identify and recognize those individuals,” Rue says. “There are a number of state awards that we do provide but the Freedom Award is a separate application process above and beyond that. There’s only 15 in the country that get that recognition.” The deadline to nominate an employer for the Freedom Award is January 18th. A small southeast Iowa company won the national award in 2007, Augustine and Sons, based in Rose Hill. Rue says the owners were thrilled with the recognition.
“They were taken to Washington, D.C,” Rue says. “They were provided a five-minute interview with President Bush and that got extended, at his determination, to about 50 minutes and then there’s a black-tie dinner with a national-level speaker and these awards are then presented.” To learn more about the program, visit: