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Albuquerque’s Fire Department Receives National Award

Policies Ensures that Attention is paid to National Guardsmen and Reservists

September 27, 2013

Albuquerque- Last night, Albuquerque Fire Chief James Breen accepted an award in Washington, D.C. for his department’s exceptional work with National Guardsmen and Reservists of the United States. The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, has chosen the Albuquerque Fire Department as one of this year’s 15 recipients of the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award the highest honor given by the department. Out of a pool of 2,899 nominations from around the nation, AFD has been selected as exceptionally supportive of their Guard and Reservist employees.

Earlier this year, the Albuquerque Fire Department was nominated by a firefighter who is also a Navy Reservist. The nominator was impressed with how AFD works with their Guardsmen and Reservist employees through their Deployed Military Support Program, which secures appropriate payroll leave and benefits for deployed employees. The program also provides families with direct access to Fire Chief Breen for assistance at home, and coordinates care packages and letters of support from the department leadership and fellow firefighters. The Albuquerque Fire Department also allows for 66 days of paid military leave for Guardsmen and Reservists.

"We are honored by the recognition of Secretary Hagel.  We are committed to doing everything we can to assist our National Guard and Reservists being successful members of our workforce and community.  The commitment they make to protect our country deserves nothing less," said Mayor Berry.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, "So many of our Nation’s employers are finding ways to contribute to our Nation’s security, but these employers stand out for their commitment to our Guardsmen and Reservists. They have the gratitude and thanks of the entire Department of Defense."

Since the first award issued in 1996 by then-Secretary of Defense William Perry, only 175 employers have received the Freedom award, the Albuquerque Fire Department now joins that elite list of employers. The ESGR maintains that employer understanding and support of Guardsmen and Reservists is crucial to the Nation’s security and well-being. The ESGR advocates for initiatives that resolve conflict between employers and service members seek better awareness, and works towards cooperation. Guardsmen and Reservists are an asset because they bring integrity, world perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.