Military News

Monday, April 21, 2008

MILITARY CONTRACTS April 16, 2008

AIR FORCE

AAI, Corp., of Hunt Valley, Md., is being awarded a firm fixed price contract for $67,505,160. This action will provide Spares NSN: 4920-01-461-6316EW, USM 670 Joint Service Combat System Tester applicable to A-10 F-15, F-16, FA-18, E-2, E-6, CV- 22 and HH-60 aircraft. At this time $0 has been obligated. Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8540-08-D-0002).

Raytheon Co., Intelligence and Information Systems of
Omaha, Neb., is being awarded a modified cost plus incentive fee contract for $23,096,392. This action provide for Joint Environment Toolkit (JET), Phase 2, Increment 2. At this time $8,596,128 has been obligated. Hanscom AFB, Mass., is the contracting activity (FA8720-04-C-0015 P00024).

NAVY

Quality Performance Inc.*, Fredericksburg, Va., is being awarded a $37,500,000 ceiling-priced, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the procurement of up to 77 Moriah Wind Systems (MWS). The MWS is a wind measuring and indicating system for ships and shore stations, providing digital wind speed and direction information, including crosswind and headwind, that supports decision making for air operations, combat, navigation,
tactical planning and firefighting. MWS replaces the current Type F Wind Measuring and Indicating System, providing a single wind measuring system, consistent across all ship classes and shore stations. Work will be performed in Poole, Dorset, England, (75 percent) and Fredericksburg, Va., (25 percent), and work is expected to be completed in Dec. 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity (N68335-08-D-0015).

Rogers-Quinn Construction, Inc., Bonsall, Calif., is being awarded a $14,800,000 firm-fixed-price contract to design and build a communication and electronics repair building at 43 Area,
Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and work is expected to be completed by May 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured, with four proposals solicited and three offers received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68711-03-D-7057).

Jacobs
Technology Inc., is being awarded $6,365,500 for task order #0017 under previously awarded contract (M67854-02-A-9017) to provide technical support to the Marine Corps Systems Command, Information Systems and Infrastructure Product Group, Marine Corps Network and Infrastructure services (PM MCNIS) program office to provide sustainment support and additional transition support to include assisting in monitoring the cutover progress and attending daily meetings. Throughout the contract period the contractor will be required to coordinate schedules, assist with data collection for assets, user requirements management; application inventory; and related actions necessary to effect transition activities and seat cutover, technical refresh schedules and activities and life-cycle sustainment in the NMCI environment (e. g. SRM data collection, asset reconciliation and tracking). The scope of this task will be structured to reflect support for Major Commands across the Marine Corps sites. Work will be performed in Quantico, Va., and work is expected to be completed in Apr. 2009. Contract funds will expire by the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Integrys Energy Services,
Chicago, Ill., is being awarded a maximum $23,948,888.34 firm fixed price, service funded contract to provide electricity. Other locations of performance are in Ill. Using services are Army, Air Force and Federal Civilian Agencies. There were originally 152 proposals solicited with 8 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Date of performance completion is May 31, 2010. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va. (SP0600-08-D-8016).

ARMY

Scott Alliance, Inc., A Joint Venture,
Chicago, Ill., was awarded on Apr. 16, 2008, a $12,138,000 firm-fixed price contract to design and build a security forces operations facility. Work will be performed at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 30, 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. 62 bids were solicited on Dec. 3, 2007, and five bids were received. Corps of Engineers, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-08-C-0013).

Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, Meadows, Ill. was awarded on April 16, 2008, a $6,085,549 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to further develop, fabricate, demonstrate and leverage a two-color uncooled, mid-wave, Lead Selenide Passive Infrared Cueling System. Work will be performed in Rolling Meadows, Ill., and is expected to be completed on April 18, 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on July 20, 2007, and two bids were received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J. is the contracting activity (W15P7T-08-C-P001).

Creech, Miller and Katz

Editor's Note: One of the authors is a former servicemember.

April 16, 2008 (San Dimas, CA) Police-Writers.com is a website that lists state and local police officers who have written books. The website added two
law enforcement officers from Texas and one from Florida.

Paul Creech began his 40 year law enforcement career with the Texas Highway Patrol which became part of the Texas Department of Public Safety. After ten years as a Highway Patrol Officer, Paul Creech began to fly aircraft for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Paul Creech is the author of Eagle with a Badge.

According to the book description of Eagle with a Badge, it “is the true story of pilot Paul Creech, who flew state police helicopters and other aircraft for thirty years, preceded by ten years as a highway patrolman. It was a life of extreme danger, with times of stark terror, interspersed with the routine that all police officers know. By day, by night, in weather ranging from floods and tornadoes to snowstorms, Paul rescued people, and helped ground officers apprehend bank robbers, murderers, and escaping convicts.”

After graduation from high school,
Rick Miller served three years as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. He served almost twelve years as an officer, detective, and supervisor with the Dallas Police Department, after which he was the chief of police for the Killeen Police Department (Texas) and the Denton Police Department (Texas). After receiving his juris doctorate from Baylor University in 1983, Rick Miller entered the private practice of law in Killeen. Rick Miller is the author of Sam Bass & Gang, Bloody Bill Longley: A Biography, The Train Robbing Bunch and Bounty Hunter.

According to the book description of Sam Bass & Gang, “the legendary Sam Bass refused to give up his companions to the trailing lawmen. In 1878, the chase ended with the famous gunfight on the streets of Round Rock, Texas.”

Marty Katz is a retired sergeant from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Marty Katz is the author of Past the Uniform. According to the book description, “Ever wonder what it is like to be on the other side of a 9-1-1 call? Come along for the ride. View the world through the windshield of a patrol unit and behind the yellow tape of crime scenes.”

Police-Writers.com now hosts 978 police officers (representing 409 police departments) and their 2074
criminal justice books in 35 categories, there are also listings of United States federal law enforcement employees turned authors, international police officers who have written books and civilian police personnel who have written books.

Squint, Gilbreath and Sweatt

Editor's Note: Two of the authors are former servicemembers.


April 16, 2008 (San Dimas, CA) Police-Writers.com is a website that lists state and local police officers who have written books. The website added three Texas law enforcement officials.

Dale Squint entered the US Army in 1956 and served a three year enlistment which included duty Japan and Korea. In 1960, he began his law enforcement career with the El Paso Police Department. Dale Squint worked uniform patrol for approximately four years and then was promoted to detective. In 1967, he joined the Texas Department of Public Safety and served in the Highway Patrol until 1970. Dale Squint joined the Border Patrol in 1970, serving out the remained of his law enforcement career. Dale Squint is the author of My Border Patrol Diary: Laredo, Texas.

After serving in the United States military,
West Gilbreath joined the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department in Las Cruces, New Mexico. On February 1, 2001, West Gilbreath retired as the Lieutenant of the Criminal Investigations Division to start a second career. He and his family relocated to Denton, Texas where he is a criminal investigator for the University of North Texas Police Department. West Gilbreath is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, and received a Heritage Award for preserving the history of the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department through the creation of the Historical Museum of Lawmen. West Gilbreath is the author of Death on the Gallows: The Story of Legal Hangings in New Mexico, 1847-1923.

John Sweatt is a technical associate with ATA Associates, Inc. A retired, twenty-two-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, he worked extensively in the hit and run accident detail and accident investigation division. He received his BS in 1978 from the University of Houston and has continued to develop expertise in advanced accident reconstruction, radial tire belt separations, restraint systems examinations, truck brake failure analysis, vehicle damage analysis, ground base aerial crush photography, airbag technology and development, and tractor-trailer rollovers and underride accidents.

John Sweatt’s areas of specialized expertise include: accident investigations, accident reconstruction, and commercial vehicle investigations and reconstruction. He is a licensed private investigator in the state of Texas and is HAZWOPER certified. John B. Sweatt is the co-author of Handbook of Charts and Tables for Vehicle Dynamic Analysis.

Police-Writers.com now hosts 975 police officers (representing 409 police departments) and their 2068
criminal justice books in 35 categories, there are also listings of United States federal law enforcement employees turned authors, international police officers who have written books and civilian police personnel who have written books.

Morale, Resale Programs Reach Out to Reserve-Component Families

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2008 -
Military Resale and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs are working to support members of the military community regardless of their proximity to installations, a defense official told the House Armed Services Committee today. "Our Resale and MWR programs are more effectively reaching out to our active-duty, Guard and reserve families, our retirees, the digital generation of our members, and our military spouses who work," said Leslye A. Arsht, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy.

Part of that MWR outreach will benefit what Arsht described as "far-flung
military members and families."

Access to books and other educational materials will be available through the
Military OneSource Web site and the services' library portals. In addition, Internet speed, reliability and access have been enhanced, she said. These moves make it easier for deployed servicemembers who communicate with family and friends via Internet applications like YouTube and Facebook.

Extending opportunities for families of deployed Guard and reserve members to access facilities that promote physical health and well-being also is a goal of the
Military Community and Family Policy's MWR program.

"To expand the MWR benefit for families of deployed Guard and reserve members, we will buy ... family memberships to fitness and recreation centers in local communities," Arsht said.

Another benefit expansion came as a direct request from the president in his State of the Union address, she said. He asked that Congress support more child care and educational opportunities for
military families.

"With the help of enabling legislation, we plan to increase the availability of affordable child care by further accelerating on-base construction programs and by creating more partnerships for child care in communities outside the gate," Arsht said. "We are also expanding spouse career and education opportunities."

The deputy undersecretary went on to say that commissary and exchange
leaders have renewed their commitment to work together to better serve their customers. Past joint sales events have attracted families from surrounding communities, including retirees, to retail complexes on military installations.

The Defense Commissary Agency initiated these prototype events at Guard and reserve locations last year. The plan is, with exchange cooperation, to increase the number of events held this year.

Arsht thanked Congress, MWR and Resale employees and industry partners for their willingness to work together to sustain these essential programs.

"We will need your continued support as we adapt our programs to better serve the deployed Guard and reserve communities and implement the president's initiatives for
military families," she concluded.

New Report on Vets' Mental Health 'Very Consistent' with Military Findings

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2008 - A study released today shows that nearly 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans report symptoms of
post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, findings that military health officials called "very consistent" with their own. During a media roundtable at the Pentagon this morning, officials said the report by the RAND Corporation, titled "The Invisible Wounds of War," helps clarify mental health hurdles the Defense Department is seeking to overcome.

"We're on a journey, and we've come a long way, ... but we've got a long way to go," said
Army Col. Loree Sutton, chief of the newly created Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. "That's why we're so thankful to teams like the RAND team that have stepped up and helped us better understand our challenges."

Sutton called it "heartening" that the RAND report's conclusions are "very consistent" with previous studies by the
Army's Mental Health Advisory Team and other results published in a private medical journal. "We appreciate their efforts to inform our efforts," she added.

One of the study's findings is that just more than half of servicemembers reporting symptoms actually seek care for
post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. For those who do seek help, only about half receive treatment that researchers consider "minimally adequate," the report states.

"Clearly, that's a finding that concerns us," Sutton said.

"It's very consistent with the civilian literature, as well as with our own assessment of the challenges in this area," she said. She cited "closing the gap" between knowledge and practice as a top priority. "We will redouble our efforts," she said.

Sutton said the
military health community has used $500 million appropriated in 2007 to fund more than 25 major new programs supported by more than 125 initiatives, many of which "get to the heart of that concern." She added, "We want to provide evidence-based care, the very highest quality care."

One reason many troops avoid psychological treatment, the RAND report says, is because they fear it will harm their careers.

"In general, respondents were concerned that treatment would not be kept confidential and would constrain future job assignments and
military careers advancement," the report said.

Sutton said the
military health community is attempting to transform military culture with regard to its approach to psychological care. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has bolstered these efforts, she said, by seeking to remove a question about health care history that appears on security clearance questionnaires.

"That's in the process of being revised right now," she said. "We think that that's going to be a big step forward to help our servicemembers understand that seeking care, in fact, is a sign of strength."

Joining Sutton at the roundtable was
Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Jaffee, director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Jaffee said the "big cultural challenge" also occurs in the combat theater, especially in servicemembers' attitude about seeking treatment for possible battlefield concussions.

"Our culture is so towards performance that we think we can shake it off; if we toughen up, we can get by it," he said. "It's very similar to the professional athlete who may not want to be taken out of the game.

"So it really speaks to that big cultural challenge," he said, "which is one of the main challenges in front of us."

While the healthcare community has a long road ahead, it took a step in the right direction over the past year by hiring nearly 8,000 additional mental health professionals and other staffers, Sutton said.

The colonel also highlighted the Center of Excellence, a state-of-the-art hub for psychological health and traumatic brain injury treatment that opened its doors in November. One of her main duties there, she said, is to assess the efficacy of the more than 150 new programs and initiatives, increasing funding for those that are most efficient and scrapping those that flounder.

Underscoring a sense of urgency in her mission, Sutton stressed the need for "less talk and a lot more action" in regard to mental health clinical care, education, training, research funding, and outreach. She said spreading the importance of military mental health care is an issue of national importance.

"It's a national educational campaign," she said. "Not just for those of us in the
military and the veterans community, but for our entire country."

National Guard Troops Vigilant in Kosovo's Transition to Nationhood

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2008 - Thronged sidewalks and cafes, jammed roads and packed store shelves suggest progress in this former war zone where National Guard troops play a key role in an international effort to keep the world's newest country on the path of peace. The governors of
Iowa and Minnesota, whose National Guard troops are deployed here, toured this Delaware-sized new nation April 11-13, joined by Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, and other senior military officials.

"You see notable improvement," Blum said after a foot patrol through the eastern city of Gnjilane. "It is slow, but it's steady progress. We saw economic vitality I had not seen on previous visits. We see people walking around, feeling safe. We see multiethnic mingling, children playing, business going on, traffic jams.

"Nobody likes a traffic jam, but it's a sign of development. People have more money," Blum. "They can afford to operate motor vehicles. They're feeling pretty good about themselves and their future."

Through the 1990s, Kosovo was wracked by Serbian repression of the Albanian majority and by an insurgency bent on independence. NATO intervention in 1999 ended the violence. U.S. troops, including the National Guard, have been part of a NATO and United Nations
Police force on the ground ever since. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on Feb. 17.

"The National Guard's contribution has been a critical part of NATO's Kosovo Force, maintaining the peace between the Albanians and the Serbians, and it's pretty clear that peace would not exist but for the presence of American troops," said
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, chairman of the National Governors Association. "If Kosovo's destabilized, it destabilizes an entire region, and that really begins to impact what our future obligations and dangers are going to be for the United States in this volatile part of Europe and our interests abroad elsewhere."

Pawlenty and
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, federal liaison for the 28-member Democratic Governors Association, thanked the Kansas National Guard's 35th Infantry Division deployed in Kosovo, which includes sizable numbers of troops from their states.

Blum called the United States'
military role as leader of KFOR's Task Force East in Kosovo, "a very sophisticated, nuanced mission at a time that's probably as critical in Kosovo as any time in their history. It's exciting to see the National Guard responsible for the American contribution to guarantee a safe and secure environment for a nation that has just literally been born."

Led by
Army Brig. Gen. John Davoren, the 35th Infantry Division's missions include extensive presence patrols, military liaison with civilian authorities, and contingency support for the KFOR commander, French Lt. Gen. Xavier Bout de Marnhac. Guardmembers also distribute clothing and educational supplies and help rebuild schools. De Marnhac credited the National Guard troops from TF East for their timely and crucial reinforcement of TF North troops confronting a serious outbreak of violence in northern Mitrovica following independence.

"We're uniquely suited for this," Blum said. "We come in with civilian-acquired expertise that is highly useful and effective in a stabilizing mission like this and, at times, actually is more important than the
military skills themselves. Of course, you have to underpin civilian-acquired capabilities with solid military skills and the ability to apply force if necessary."

The governors met with
military commanders and toured TF East's area of responsibility for eastern Kosovo, which shares borders with Serbia and Macedonia. At town hall meetings with Guardmembers, they heard about issues they said they would address with state legislators.

"My main sentiment as I talk to the troops is gratitude and respect," Pawlenty said. "I realize what they go through to do what they're doing, in terms of the burden that it imposes on their families and them. I am overcome with a sense of gratitude that we have men and women like that who continue to raise their hand and lay it all on the line for our country. I have a deep, deep sense of respect and awe for them."

"I couldn't be more impressed," Culver said. "They are doing a magnificent job. They've got a very impressive record of accomplishment ... whether it's the border
security missions, the humanitarian efforts, the diplomacy, and communication with local officials and civilians."

Pawlenty previously visited National Guard troops in Kosovo in 2004. "The situation on the ground has improved somewhat," he said. "It's important that there be a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo because, if there isn't, you'll have large numbers of people killing each other. KFOR, bolstered by our
Minnesota troops and other American National Guard forces, is playing a pivotal and key role."

For Culver, elected in 2006, it was his first visit with his state's troops deployed overseas. "I came away even more committed than ever before to make sure we address their needs not only here on the ground in Kosovo but ... when they return to the states," he said.

Culver has called out the Guard in the aftermath of severe storms. "I saw them step up to the plate back in Iowa when we really needed them in terms of public safety and
homeland security, and now to see them here in Kosovo makes me very appreciative of the great work that they're doing at home and abroad," he said.

"These dual roles at home and abroad are a huge benefit to Iowans," Culver said. The skills they learn over here, the additional courses that they're taking, the promotions that take place because of the opportunities that a mission like this presents -- as a result of that, we're going to have a better prepared force back at home."

Pawlenty said the 13,000-strong
Minnesota National Guard is deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and 11 other countries.

"We're very proud of these men and women," Pawlenty said. "They're serving in important roles to advance America's strategic interests across the globe. They do it at great cost and expense to them and their families. They're courageous people. They're people of great patriotism and strength with impressive dedication. They deserve our thanks."

Among officials visiting National Guard troops in Kosovo were the adjutants general of
Iowa and Minnesota, Air Force Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis and Army Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, and Army Maj. Gen. Frank Grass, U.S. European Command director of mobilization and reserve-component affairs.

Noncommissioned officers were among those briefing the senior
leaders, a contrast with briefings by officers from foreign armed forces.

"That's unique to the United States
Army and particularly a strong suit of the National Guard," Blum observed. "Our NCOs are extremely gifted and talented professionals with deep and wide civilian experience, and you will see noncommissioned officers performing roles and functions ... that you would not see in any other army in the world."

The Missouri National Guard's 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade is scheduled to assume command from 35th Infantry Division later this year.

(
Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill is assigned to the National Guard Bureau.)

Face of Defense: Iraqi-Born Marine Becomes American Citizen in Country of Birth

By Marine Cpl. Scott McAdam
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2008 -
Marine Lance Cpl. Evan Eskharia, a basic water systems technician with Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), received his United States citizenship during a naturalization ceremony at Al Faw Palace here April 12. Receiving his U.S. citizenship in the war-torn country of his birth represents the culmination of his family's determination and will to flee an oppressive regime and seek the freedoms and opportunities only offered in America.

"This is in my top three proudest days of my life," said Eskharia, who lived in El Cajon, Calif., prior to joining the
Marine Corps. "It's up there with the birth of my son and receiving my eagle, globe and anchor," he said referring to the Marine Corps symbol.

The naturalization ceremony was the largest outside the United States, with 259 servicemembers from 71 different countries receiving their citizenship.

"It's that feeling in your heart, that now you're a U.S. citizen; it feels really good," Eskharia added.

When Eskharia was 9 years old, he and his family fled Iraq to Turkey due to Saddam Hussein's oppressive regime. At the time, when an Iraqi boy turned 16, he would be drafted into the Iraqi
military. Having five male children, Eskharia's mother and father decided they would rather leave the country than see their children become part of Saddam's tyranny.

"It was very difficult for my parents to leave everything behind," Eskharia explained. "My parents wanted us to have a better life and better opportunities, so we left."

Once the Eskharia family reached Turkey, the Turkish government placed them in a refugee camp in Istanbul for more than three years.

Eskharia remembers his time in the refugee camp as difficult -- his family treated horribly, with clean water scarce, very little liberty to go outside, and living with nine to 10 people in rooms built for three.

In 1993, the Eskharias applied for and received a green card from the United States. The family moved to California and started a new life as so many immigrants have done before them.

Even though the time in Turkey was hard for the Eskharia family, it made coming to the United States and enjoying the freedom afforded to Americans well worth it.

To repay the country who took him and his family in, Eskharia made a decision few American citizens and even fewer immigrants make -- to join the United States
Marine Corps.

"He's (Eskharia) put in a lot of hard work to get into the
Marine Corps and to get his naturalization," said Eskharia's brother-in-law, Sgt. Wendall F. Anderson, a special intelligence systems administrator in 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). "He feels that since America took him and his family in, he owes America a debt of gratitude and that's why he joined the Marine Corps."

While in the Marine Corps, Eskharia used his newfound brotherhood as a support system while applying for citizenship.

"It is a great feeling knowing you have the backup and support of the Marine Corps," Eskharia said. "They are always there for help."

Through deploying with the
Marine Corps, Eskharia found himself back in the country of his birth.

"It feels good knowing that I can contribute to Iraq," Eskharia said. "I do speak Arabic, not fluently, but I can still understand what people say, and if Iraqis have a question, I can help them out and try to explain what is going on."

Though a lot has changed in the last 15 years, being in Iraq has brought back some childhood memories.

Currently stationed at Taqaddum, Eskharia remembers Lake Habbaniyah, where he, his father and two brothers used to fish and swim.

"We drove by Lake Habbaniyah the other day, and I was like, 'Huh, I remember this lake,'" Eskharia said. "I remember the hills around there, but there is a lot of barbed wire and fences now that weren't there before. It's a lot different now."

Conquering one of his life goals, Eskharia stays focused on his future. Speaking Aramaic, and with his knowledge of Arabic, Eskharia would like to go to
military linguist school in Monterey, Calif., to hone his Arabic language skills and become a linguist for the Marine Corps.

"I feel he makes a great Marine; he's a good person, a good father, a good husband and a good brother," said Anderson, a
Buffalo, Mo., native. "I think this is well-deserved."

"In my heart, this is what I've always wanted to do," Eskharia explained. "I've wanted to be a U.S. citizen ever since we came to the states from Baghdad. It's very important to me because it's an accomplishment and an achievement in my life."

(
Marine Cpl. Scott McAdam is assigned to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.)

America Supports You: ESGR Freedom Award Nominations Nearly Double

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

April 17, 2008 - When the nomination period closed on Jan. 21, the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve had received a record 2,199 nominations for its 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, a 97 percent increase over the previous year's 1,119 nominations. That can be attributed, at least in part, to the relationships the organization has fostered with reserve components as well as media outlets, said
Air Force Lt. Col. Michelle Barrett, ESGR's public affairs officer.

"We had a lot of the reserve-component
leadership kind of pushing it down to the troops, and then we have a pretty good network within each service's public affairs office," she said. "They kind of helped push it out and advertise, so that helped, as well."

ESGR also worked with a Washington public relations firm to get the word out by sending information about the award through its channels in the business world.

"The fact that we have so many nominations, the word is getting out that, number one, there are great employers out there, but number two, that there are servicemembers who are benefitting from the great support that they get from the employers," Barrett said. "It's great to read all the nominations, not just the final 15.

"So we're also looking to reach out to those other employers who were nominated because clearly somebody thinks that what they're doing is benefitting them enough and helping them do their job overseas and helping their family back home," she added.

The Freedom Award was established in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. The award allows for the recognition of 15 employers who go above and beyond in their support of activated reserve-component members. Nominated employers are considered for the award in three categories: large business, small business and public sector.

Past recipients have included General Motors; Starbucks; Home Depot; the family owned Augustine & Sons farm, in Rose Hill, Iowa; and Turbocam International. Public-sector employers garnering recognition include the State of
Tennessee and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

A variety of support to their
military employees and their families earned these employers the prestigious award. That support included everything from providing the employees full salary, continuing benefits, sending care packages, and even providing home and lawn care while troops were away.

The 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards will be presented during a Sept. 18 ceremony in Washington.

The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department agency established in 1972, is a supporter of another Defense Department program, America Supports You. America Supports You connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.