DEARBORN – Ford Motor Company is being honored with the 2011 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Sponsored by the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), the Freedom Award is the highest honor bestowed upon America's employers who provide exceptional support to their employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve.
Ford is one of 15 companies nationwide to be selected for this prestigious award. More than 4,000 nominations were submitted this year.
“We are proud of our employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve and it is our privilege to support them,” said Mike Bannister, Ford executive vice president, chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Credit Company, and executive champion of the Ford Veterans Network Group. “We thank ESGR and the Department of Defense for this recognition. We appreciate the honor, and we deeply appreciate all the men and women involved in military service.”
The Freedom Award, now in its 16th year, is the highest in a series of employer recognition awards given by the Department of Defense. “To stand out among the many thousands of employers who firmly support our Citizen Warriors is a testament to the remarkable efforts of these 15 recipients,” said Dennis McCarthy, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. "On behalf of the Department of Defense, I congratulate the 2011 honorees and thank them for serving as outstanding partners in our nation's defense.”
Ford received a total of six nominations. One nomination was submitted by Todd Brooks, an employee currently serving in the Navy Reserve. “Ford makes service to our country much easier. From senior leadership all they way down the ladder, they understand the necessity of the citizen soldier and the difficulties their loved ones face as a result of their commitment,” said Brooks, an engineering supervisor, Body, Chassis & Steering Test Labs. “Ford really gets it. Truly it is One Team and for that we are ever so grateful.”
The Freedom Award recognizes employers for the formal and informal initiatives they put in place for Guard and Reserve employees and their families. For example, Ford currently offers differential pay for its employees on active duty. In the U.S. there are approximately 700 Reservists and Guardsmen employed by the company along with more than 7,000 veterans. Ford currently has nearly 30 employees actively serving in the military.
Ford Motor Company has a longstanding commitment to its veterans and military personnel. Ford’s relationship with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) began in 1922 when Henry Ford organized a cross-country caravan of 50 Model T’s to take disabled veterans to their convention in San Francisco. Since 1974, Ford Motor Company and the Ford Motor Company Fund have provided over $6 million to veterans organizations.
Since 1996, Ford Motor Company has donated 156 vehicles to DAV for their Transportation Network, totaling approximately $4 million. Each year Ford sponsors the DAV’s winter sports clinic, and has supported the DAV’s youth scholarship volunteer program since 2000. In 2006 the Ford Fund made a $500,000 contribution toward the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. Ford Motor Company also helps all veterans through vehicle donations, scholarships and special vehicle purchase programs.
The Ford Veterans Network Group (VETNG), one of Ford’s corporately supported Employee Resource Groups, sponsors activities throughout the year in support of its veterans, military personnel and their families.
“The Veterans Network Group is committed to serving and supporting all members of the U.S. Armed Forces,” said Dan Duderstadt, lead security supervisor, and president of the Veterans Network Group. “And we could not do it without the ongoing support of our senior leadership here at Ford Motor Company.”
The Ford Veterans Network Group recently sponsored a Memorial Day Parade in Dearborn, Michigan. Other activities throughout the year include the annual Veterans Day Ceremony at Ford World Headquarters and sending care packages overseas to activated employees, as well as company employees with sons and daughters serving abroad.
A national selection board composed of senior defense officials, business leaders and prior awardees selected the 15 recipients for the 2011 Freedom Award.
The 2011 recipients will be honored in Washington, D.C. at the 16th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Ceremony in September.