East Tenn. business awarded National Freedom Award

(WBIR - Knoxville) A small Knoxville business is getting some big national recognition for going above and beyond when it comes to supporting its employees who also serve our country.

Michael Russell, President and General Manager of Steel Plate Fabricators traveled to Washington, D.C. on Thursday to receive the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

The Freedom Award is the highest recognition given to employers for their outstanding support of employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve.

Russell and the company were recognized for a number of reasons including actively seeking out service members and veterans to hire.

According to the Freedom Award website, Russell personally gave a loan to a service member who needed short-term financial help after a mistake delayed his military pay.

The website stated Cameron Lale, a member of the Air National Guard, nominated the company. He described Russell as a generous leader and is grateful for his support.

One story from Lale posted on the Freedom Award website truly embodied his boss's generosity:

"'Mr. Russell has paid for my time away from work when I am on duty status…I have informed him that he doesn't have to do this.' His boss's response said it all, 'it is the least he can do…for my service.'

The company also created a stainless steel American flag and put it on display next to a memorial wall which recognizes and honors their military employees.


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