Eastman Chemical Co. has received the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.
This is the U.S. Department of Defense’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve. Eastman will receive the award from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on September 26.
“While I value everyone who volunteers service to others, there is a special place in my heart for those who serve in our military,” Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO, said in a prepared release. “How we treat our veterans speaks to who we are as a company, and this recognition is a tremendous affirmation of how exceptional our Eastman culture is, and something every one of us can take pride in.”
A review board comprised of military and civilian leaders selected 30 finalists from almost 3,000 nominations, and a national selection board of senior Department of Defense officials, business leaders and prior awardees selected 15 winning employers in three categories: Large business, small business and the public sector.
Freedom Award finalists distinguish themselves by implementing both formal policies and informal initiatives that go above and beyond in assisting and encouraging National Guard and Reserve service. Eastman provides full pay during annual training or emergency call-ups and 100 percent differential pay and continued health and dental insurance coverage to employees and families during active duty. The reservist also continues to receive cash bonus awards and 401k contributions while deployed.
In addition, the company provides an additional week of paid leave to military employees returning from deployment to allow them more time at home with their families. Eastman hosts going away and welcome-home ceremonies, posts updates in company communications about military employees, and presents an eagle casting award that recognizes the service of National Guard and Reserve Service members.
The Kingsport site has a military honor wall in its employee center that includes a large screen interactive touch display that presents reservists’ stories of experiences while serving. Eastman employees volunteer to perform yard maintenance and routine home repairs for deployed employees, to help ease their families’ added workload.
“I commend and thank the 15 recipients of the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for providing exceptional support to our Citizen Warriors,” 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.”