March 7, 2018 – The Dunlap Police Department (DPD) received notification Tuesday, March 6, that they are in the final running for the prestigious Secretary of Defense Freedom Award.
The Secretary of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) "Freedom Award," is the highest honor the Department of Defense awards to employers for support of their National Guard and Reserve employees. It is presented each year in June.
“We got the Patriot Award in the past,” Dunlap Police Chief Clint Huth said Wednesday, “but the Freedom Award is the big daddy.”
The Tennessee National Guard released a statement congratulating “five Tennessee employers selected as semifinalists in competing this year for the prestigious Secretary of Defense Freedom Award: Backer-Springfield, Consolidated Utility District, Cummings Signs, Inc., Dunlap Police Dept and Saratoga Technologies, Inc. The selectees were chosen from a field of more than 2,330 employers.”
The Freedom Award is the top award out of three that the federal government presents to employers who go beyond what they are required by law to do in support of employees who serve in the National Guard or Reserves. Recognition starts with the Above and Beyond Award, then steps up to the Patriot Award, and finally the Freedom Award.
“We did not even know we were in the running for the award until yesterday,” Huth said. “In all honesty, I don't know who nominated us, but somebody did.”
Detective Robert Raber was deployed last year to the storm-stricken Caribbean for the Tennessee Army National Guard, with the 252nd Military Police Company, out of Cleveland, Tenn. He said some of his superiors in the Guard asked him then about what kind of support he was getting from his job back home. Raber and Huth have a suspicion that might be where the nomination originated.
Huth said any Guardsman who works for the City of Dunlap continues to get the same benefits of any other city worker during their deployment. Their pay remains the same, they continue to accrue vacation time at the same rate, and the city continues contributing to their retirement.
“The biggest thing,” Huth said, “is simply giving them the time off to serve – on drill weekends, two-week annual training, and so on. The city also provides 20 military days a year. That's days they can take off, with pay, for functions like drill weekends. They're not losing pay when they're training. They get 20 paid days for that.”
The government requires employers to give employees time off to serve in the Guard, but this award “recognizes employers who provide the most outstanding support for Guard and Reserve employees.”
Announcement of the Freedom Award winners chosen from among these semifinalists will be made in June.
Dunlap Police Chief Clint Huth (left) and Detective Robert Raber display the Army flag. Raber serves with the Army National Guard. Photo contributed.