Employer of Va. Guard officer receives ESGR award

David LaGassa, vice president and head of the Capital One Military Network, accepted an award for Capital One Sept. 26, 2014, during the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony at the Pentagon Auditorium, Arlington, Va.

David LaGassa, vice president and head of the Capital One Military Network, accepted an award for Capital One Sept. 26, 2014, during the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony at the Pentagon Auditorium, Arlington, Va. (Courtesy Photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. — David LaGassa, vice president and head of the Capital One Military Network, accepted an award for Capital One Sept. 26, 2014, during the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony at the Pentagon Auditorium in Arlington, Va.

Capital One was nominated by Lt. Col. Christopher S. Doss, chief of plans, assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based Headquarters, 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard. Brig. Gen. Blake C. Ortner, the Land Component Commander, Virginia Army National Guard also attended the ceremony.

“ESGR is a critical asset for the Soldiers of Virginia, and for all National Guard and Reserve Soldiers,” Ortner said. “It is a conduit to both building understanding of the National Guard and the importance of its missions, but also as an advocate for Soldiers when issues develop due to mission requirements. ESGR speaks the language of business owners and can best explain the needs of Soldiers.”

The award was created to publicly recognize employers who provide exceptional support to their Guard and Reserve employees. It is the highest in a series of employer recognition awards given by the Department of Defense to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

“I think it is critical to recognize employers because they are an integral part of the National Guard team. It is one of the three legs of the stool, including the Soldier and their family. Without employer support, the stool is unstable. This recognition shows how dependent we are on employers and how important they are,” explained Ortner.

Capital One was nominated by Doss, who focused his nomination on the company’s “Serve the Reserve” program, which provides voluntary assistance from associates to military members on extended active service, family support during deployments and up to two weeks full pay annually to cover required military training. Capital One offers a Military Mentorship Program to match up newly transitioned veteran hires with associate veterans to offer a smooth transition from the military to the company workforce. The company has also contributed significantly to financially supporting and volunteering with military organizations.

“The ESGR provides an excellent platform from which servicemembers can recognize employers who go above and beyond in supporting our military and their families,” Doss said. “Reserve and National Guard Soldiers, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen could not perform their duty as Citizen-Soldiers without employer support.”

“Capital One’s support has meant the world to me and my family,” Doss said. “I could not continue to serve without their support.”

Almost one-half of the U.S. military is comprised of the Guard and Reserve. The Department of Defense shares these citizen warriors with their civilian employers, many of whom provide significant support to their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve. This award recognizes employers who provide the most outstanding support for their Guard and Reserve employees and is presented annually by the Secretary of Defense.

“ESGR information to employers has smoothed the ability of our Soldiers to transition to duty, either in a state emergency role or for deployments overseas,” Ortner said. “It has allowed Soldiers to focus on their mission and not concerns about having a job when they return to work.”

The 2014 Freedom Award recipients below were also honored at a ceremony:

Arizona Public Service, Phoenix, Arizona

AT&T, Dallas, Texas

Capital One, McClean, Virginia

CH2M-WG Idaho, Idaho Falls, Idaho

General Mills, Inc., Golden Valley, Minnesota

J.G. Management Systems, Inc., Grand Junction, Colorado

Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles, California

N.H. Department of Environmental Services, Concord, New Hampshire

PNC Bank, Pittsburgh, Pennslyvannia

Shofner Vision Center, Nashville, Tennessee

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee

Triumph Pharmaceuticals, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri

UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Washoe County School District, Reno, Nevada

Zions Bank, Salt Lake City, Utah

For more information about the Freedom Award and this year’s recipients, visit www.FreedomAward.mil under the Media Tab in the Press Releases section.

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. In the years since, 190 employers have been honored with the award. To learn more about ESGR, visit www.ESGR.mil.

View photos from the event here.