The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense agency, announced iostudio of Nashville and Tennessee Valley Authority of Knoxville as finalists for the 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

The Support Freedom Award is the DoD’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of National Guard and Army Reserve employees. A review board comprised of military and civilian leaders selected 30 finalists from the 3,236 nominations received earlier this year from Guard and Reserve service members or family members acting on their behalf.

Only 160 employers have received the Freedom Award since it was established in 1996. Employers named as finalists for the award distinguish themselves not only for adhering to the employment and re-employment rights of Guard and Reserve members but for actively creating opportunities to assist and support the service of both Guard and Reserve employees and their families.

Marketing firm iostudio, nominated by an Army National Guard employee, supports their Guard and Reserve members by sending care packages to deployed employees throughout the year with notes of thanks, messages from family and items to remind them of home. Of the agency’s 200 staff members, 115 are in the Guard or Reserve or are veterans, and iostudio gives military members hiring preference.


Tennessee Valley Authority, nominated by an Army Reserve employee, sent 4,000 care packages to service members overseas. TVA supports its Guard and Reserve employees by training supervisors on military employment and re-employment laws and posting information about these policies in employee break rooms and company newsletters. The employer also seeks to hire military members through the Helmets to Hardhats Program, helping service members earn an engineering degree and guaranteeing a job upon graduation.

“The 2012 Freedom Award finalists demonstrate that outstanding support of Guard and Reserve members is not limited by an employer’s size, industry or region of the nation. These 30 finalists span the diversity of America’s workforce and prove every employer can go above and beyond for our citizen warriors,” said ESGR National Chair James G. Rebholz.  

The DoD will announce the 15 recipients of the 2012 Freedom Award early this summer following completion of a national selection board comprised of senior DoD officials, business leaders and prior awardees. The 2012 recipients will be honored with the 17th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in Washington, D.C., in September. Past recipients of the Freedom Award have met privately with the president and vice president of the United States and the secretary of defense.