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Rounds Congratulates Yankton School District for Being Awarded 2021 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) released the following statement recognizing the Yankton School District for being one of 15 national recipients of the 2021 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

“I am extremely proud of the Yankton School District for going above and beyond for South Dakota’s service members and their families,” said Rounds. “Making sure our National Guard and Reserve members are valued and taken care of is a top priority for us in South Dakota. The Yankton School District employees have made a concerted effort to foster a supportive community for South Dakota’s military families, especially when a loved one is deployed. Our nation is indebted to our service members and their families for their sacrifices. Thank you to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for recognizing the Yankton School District with this prestigious and well-deserved honor.”

Background courtesy of the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award:

The recipients of the Freedom Award include small and large private and public sector employers nominated by a National Guard or Reserve Component employee employed in their organization. Celebrating its 25th year, the Freedom Award began in 1996 under the auspices of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to recognize exceptional employer support, with 310 honorees to date. This award is the highest United States government honor to employers for support of National Guard and Reserve employees.

ESGR received 3,382 nominations for this prestigious award for employers throughout the 50 states, Guam-CNMI, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and District of Columbia.  The recipients distinguished themselves by going far beyond the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA, to support their National Guard and Reserve employees.  Many 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.


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