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UT-Battelle, manager of ORNL, receives award for supporting employees who are reserve members of the military

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is given by U.S. government to employers for supporting employees who are reserve members of the military.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — On Monday, state leaders gathered at the McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base to give Oak Ridge National Laboratory an award for its support of employees who are also reserve members of the military.

The 2022 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is meant to recognize employers who go above and beyond to accommodate employees who also serve as reserve members of the military. Governor Bill Lee was there to recognize ORNL as a recipient of the award along with the Tennessee Employer Support for Guard and Reserve.

On Aug. 30, ORNL made the announcement that UT-Battelle received the award. The organization manages and operates the laboratory, working with the U.S. Department of Energy to keep ORNL running.

“As a national laboratory, we have a commitment to meet the nation’s scientific and technical needs. Our guard and Reserve employees’ own commitment to the nation is integral to ensuring we meet the mission, and they help to make ORNL one of the leading scientific institutions in the world,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “It’s an honor to be recognized by the Department of Defense.”

UT-Battelle was nominated by ORNL's Chief Information Security Officer — Major Maria McClelland. Around 10% of ORNL's staff are either members of the military reserves or are veterans, according to a release.

In total, 15 awards were presented to employers this year. There were three categories — large business, small business and the public sector. The chair of TESGR, Jim Mungenast, said ORNL deserved its award because of its compensation and benefits for people while they served in the military.

That includes 80 hours of paid time off for normal military training and 173 hours if employees serve during emergencies. ORNL guard and Reserve employees also receive a pay differential if their military pay is less than their ORNL salary during extended military duty.

Other recipients included the Storm Lake Police Department in Iowa, Gate City Bank in North Dakota, the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska and TeleTracking Technologies in Pennsylvania. According to a release, organizers received 2,777 nominations.

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