Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
The men and women who serve in the Guard and Reserve and their families give immensely of their time and talents to serving our nation. Their skills and commitment also add great value to the workforce and our communities. I had the opportunity to join fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch in honoring the Idaho State Police (ISP) of Meridian, Idaho, for being selected as a recipient of the 2016 U.S. Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, known as the Freedom Award. This award is a tribute to the high regard Idaho employers have given to valued members of our communities.
Senator Risch and I submitted a Congressional Record Statement in the official record of the U.S. Senate highlighting the significance of this achievement and noting that the U.S. Department of Defense indicates that the Freedom Award is the highest recognition it gives to employers for "exceptional support of their National Guard and Reserve employees." The ISP is one of only 15 employers chosen this year for this national recognition out of the more than 2,000 nominations submitted by National Guard and Reserve Service members.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated, "Without the unfaltering support of employers like them, the men and women of the National Guard and Reserve would not be able to fulfill their vital roles in our National Security Strategy." The Freedom Award has been given to 220 employers over the past 20 years. The ISP is the fourth recipient from Idaho since the award was established. In 2005, IDACORP, Inc. earned a Freedom Award. In 2014, CH2M-WG Idaho was selected as a Freedom Award recipient, and the Boise Fire Department was recognized with a 2015 Freedom Award.
The award's nomination process makes the award especially meaningful, because the awardees are nominated by Guard and Reserve members, or their family members, who work for the employers nominated for the award. The nominators have direct knowledge of their treatment at work and the overall work environment.
The U.S. Department of Defense reported that a Guard member, whose supervisor assisted directly with the ISP employee's recovery and return to work after an active duty training injury, nominated the ISP for this year's award. The Guard member's co-workers even donated their personal leave to ensure the employee would receive pay. The Department of Defense also noted that the Idaho State Police actively recruits Guardsmen and Reservists through the Hero2Hired program, and 18 percent of the Idaho State Police workforce has served or is serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The ISP's selection for this honor is representative of the Idaho employers who recognize the exceptionalism of the Guard and Reservists and their families who make Idaho home. This is yet one more reason-among the too many to count reasons-to be proud of being an Idahoan.
# # #
Word Count: 467