The awards were announced on Tuesday, August 2.
The recipients include private and public sector employers across the nation nominated by a National Guard or Reserve member employed in their organization. The SLPD was nominated by Officer Gerardo Bravo, a member of the Iowa Army National Guard.
The City of Storm Lake and its police department have long been employers of military members.
“Seven members of the police department are soldiers in the Army National Guard. We appreciate and support their commitment to our country as well as our community,” Storm Lake City Manager Keri Navratil said. “During Army National Guard deployments and various trainings, Storm Lake Police officers, the assistant chief and chief all step forward to cover shifts as necessary to serve and protect the community through appropriate patrol. We recognize and applaud their efforts and contributions in demonstrating what it means to be Storm Lake Proud.”
“We are humbled and honored to receive such a prestigious award,” Storm Lake Police Chief Chris Cole added. “We’re grateful to have officers like Officer Bravo. He is a great example of someone who truly lives a life of service. He serves the citizens of Storm Lake as a police officer and serves our county in the Army National Guard.”
Chief Cole noted, “It’s our duty as employers to take care of our staff and their families during their deployments.”
Celebrating its 26th year, the Freedom Award has to date honored over 300 employers for their exceptional support of military member employees.
“I am proud to salute the employers who have distinguished themselves by being named Freedom Award recipients as we mark the 26th year of this highly coveted recognition,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III. “The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve make significant contributions to our communities and our national security through their civilian and military careers. By valuing and supporting their employees’ military service, these employers enhance the strength, readiness, and diversity of our National Guard and Reserve forces, and the readiness of the Total Force. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, recognizing the sacrifices and stalwart dedication of our Reserve Components, their service members, and the outstanding supportive employers who go above and beyond.”
ESGR received 2,777 nominations for this prestigious award for employers throughout the 50 states and U.S. territories Many of the honorees have offered enhanced pay and benefit packages, flexible scheduling and generous leave policies, and pre- and post- deployment support. In addition, they implemented robust training to equip human resource professionals and managers to support their organization’s military serving employees; stayed connected to deployed employees by sending care packages; and took care of their employees’ families during deployments by assisting with household repairs, including them in company functions, or providing financial assistance.
The 2022 Freedom Award recipients will be recognized in local ceremonies by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve State Chairs. Storm Lake Police Department is the lone honoree in Iowa, and one of only three in the midwestern U.S.