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WASHINGTON — Safeway has announced that it was awarded the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the nation's highest honor given to employers for support of the National Guard and Reserve, at a special ceremony on Sept. 26 in Washington, D.C. Safeway was one of 15 employers to receive the Freedom Award.
"This award holds special meaning because it recognizes our longstanding commitment to providing employment opportunities to the brave men and women who risk their lives to serve and defend our country," stated Safeway president and CEO Robert Edwards. "It is with much pride that we accept the Freedom Award and we congratulate the other employers receiving this honor."
Previous award recipients, Department of Defense leadership, trade associations and civilian government leaders attended the 18th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building.
"This week, we honor members of the National Guard and Reserve who carry that legacy forward," stated President Barack Obama. "We thank the employers who support them; and we reaffirm our promise to provide our troops, our veterans, and our military families with the opportunities they have earned."
The 2013 award recipients represent large and small businesses, as well as public sector agencies. They were chosen from a field of nearly 2,900 nominations submitted by Reserve Component Service members.
Safeway has a long history of commitment to men and women in the military. The company was among the first employers to commit (more than 10 years ago) to cover the pay differential and extend full benefits to employees in the Reserve and National Guard called to active duty. Safeway continues to provide this benefit. The company has responded to the need for employment with returning veterans and members of the Guard and Reserve through its Junior Military Officer and Non-Commissioned Officer Programs. Graduates of these training programs qualify for store manager and assistant manager jobs and a range of other manager-level positions in various areas of the company.
In addition to the JMO/NCO programs, Safeway's Retail Military Recruiting project was launched in 2012 to increase efforts in hiring veterans of all backgrounds. As a result, Safeway hired nearly 1,500 veterans in 2012 and is well on its way to hiring at least another 1,500 veterans by the end of 2013.
Safeway's support also goes beyond hiring. Over the past several years, Safeway employees have packed and shipped more than 2,000 care packages to active duty military personnel overseas.