Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense program, which was established to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers.
ESGR has served the country for more than 45 years, fostering a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States.
Annually, the ESGR encourages guardsmen/women to nominate their employers for the Freedom Award. In 2020, Staff Sgt. Kerriise Richards nominated Federal Health Care for the 2020 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Staff Sgt. Richards is assigned to the Virgin Islands Army National Guard, Medical Detachment Unit. Her civilian job is a dental assistant at Frederiksted Health Care Inc.
The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition presented by the U.S. Department of Defense to employers who provide the most outstanding support for National Guard and Reserve members.
Each year, Guard and Reserve employees, or a family member acting on their behalf, have the opportunity to nominate their employer for the Employer Support Freedom Award. The ESGR State Committees review nominations and submit recommendations to advance to the next round. A national selection board comprised of senior Department of Defense officials, business leaders and prior awardees select up to 15 employers to receive the secretary’s prestigious award.
These employers are honored at annual ceremonies in Washington, DC. As part of the annual recognition, the president also signs a proclamation for “National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week,” highlighting the sacrifices of our Guard and Reserve members and their families, and the outstanding support they receive from employers.
Staff Sgt. Richards said “Frederiksted Health Care Inc. supports my military obligations by granting military leave to fulfill obligations even though the agency is short staffed.” She also said, “FHC went above and beyond for their employees after the hurricanes to get us Generac generators. They knew the severity of the power situation and wanted to make sure that their employees were able to take care of their families.”
The CEO and direct supervisor regularly contact her family during annual training, military school or during territorial active duty for the hurricanes.
FHC recognizes all their veterans/military personnel specifically on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day by sending out memos to staff recognizing and applauding all their veterans and current service members. The senior leadership and staff are extremely aware, sensitive and supportive of the V.I. military troops.
The CEO, management and staff provide great support to their service member employees and families, especially during periods of military duty.
FHC is a small non-profit; it cannot support administrative pay for staff on military assignment; however, it continues to pay its contribution towards the service members’ health insurance. The support provided to service members and families from within the chain of command is noteworthy. It was an honor to nominate Frederiksted Health Care, Inc. for the 2020 Freedom Award.
Frederiksted Health Care was not selected as the winner of the 2020 Freedom Award. However, it was one of 143 selected from 2,623 nominations submitted by guardsmen and reservist nationwide to be selected as a semi-finalist. Locally, the ESGR Virgin Islands division gave FHC a plaque recognizing FHC’s above and beyond support to its military employees.
The award was presented by Stanley Jones and Paul Radix, both retired Virgin Islands National Guardsmen and members of the ESGR. Receiving the award were Board Chair John Abramson, CEO Masserae Sprauve Webster and several members of the FHC staff. The presentation was made on June 10.