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Washoe County School District recognized by defense secretary

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (left) presents the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award to Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez (center), while ESGR national chair, Paul E. Mock applauds.  DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (left) presents the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award to Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez (center), while ESGR national chair, Paul E. Mock applauds. DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz.

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recognized 15 private and public-sector employers, including the Washoe County School District, for exceptional support of their employees who serve the nation in the National Guard and reserve component military here on Sept. 26. The 15 organizations received the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award  -  the highest recognition the Department of Defense bestows to employers for such support.

The 2014 recipients, first announced in July, were chosen from 2,864 nominations received from Guardsmen and reservists for going far beyond what the federal law requires to support their military employees.

"The 15 employers we honor today represent the very best in employer support to our Guardsmen and our reservists," Hagel said.

The WCSD was nominated by Air National Guard Col. David Clark from the 152nd Airlift Wing. The school district supports service members by sending emails and care packages during deployments and publicly recognizes Guardsmen and Reservists members at school board meetings.

Clark noted teachers volunteer their own time to help children and spouses while their loved ones are deployed, including babysitting, housecleaning, and running errands. Clark also praised the school district for the support it displayed after a fellow Guardsman and teacher in Washoe County, Master Sgt. Michael Landsberry, was killed defending students during a shooting at Sparks Middle School last year.

Although the 15 recipients vary in size and industry, the secretary said, they share the commitment to doing everything possible to ensure their employees succeed both in their military and civilian careers.

"No one in the Guard or reserve should ever have to choose between a military or civilian career," Hagel said.

In addition to the Washoe County School District, the organizations recognized with the Freedom Award included: Arizona Public Service; AT&T; Capital One; CH2M-WG Idaho; General Mills Inc.; J.G. Management Systems Inc.; the Los Angeles Fire Department; the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services; PNC Bank; Shofner Vision Center; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; Triumph Pharmaceuticals Inc.; UNC Health Care; and Zions Bank.