Associated Bank has received the 2021 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, in recognition of the organization’s support of its National Guard and Reserve employees.
Green Bay, Wis.-based Associated Bank, along with 14 other recipients, was selected from 3,382 nominations submitted by guardsmen and reservists highlighting how their civilian employers went beyond what federal law requires to support them. Celebrating its 25th year, the Freedom Award is sponsored by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional employer support, with 310 honorees to date.
“Associated Bank is very supportive of our veterans and military personnel while they are on military leave with the National Guard or Reserve, and we are proud to be recognized for our efforts by the Secretary of Defense,” said Brent Tischler, executive vice president and executive sponsor of the Associated Bank Veterans Colleague Resource Group.
The resource group provides a support network for veterans at Associated, helping with professional and personal development and raising awareness around veterans’ issues, Tischler said. Associated offers support and benefits to veterans and military personnel and their families, including leave time, retention of benefits and full pay for colleagues on training and active military leave. Additionally, Associated’s Deployment Trip Program provides financial assistance to colleagues visiting a loved one prior to deployment.
“Associated Bank has recognized the value that my military service adds to my professional role,” said Tom Irizarry, corporate risk management, Associated Bank and sergeant first class, U.S. Army Reserve. “They do not see it as time away from ‘my job,’ but instead as a value-add to my professional experience and skillset. Any time I am away due to a training obligation, the support I have received has allowed me to focus on the mission at hand. This support has been paramount in ensuring the high-level leadership and safety of my team and the accomplishment of our goals.”
The scope of Irizarry’s military training as a civil affairs specialist includes planning, budgeting, project management, negotiation and public administration and has directly contributed to and complemented his role at Associated Bank.
“In turn, I have been able to apply skills and training gained at Associated Bank in my military role, such as risk management, security, information analysis and executive reporting,” said Irizarry.
This is the first national award Associated has received from ESGR. The company has received numerous local and state awards from ESGR for its support of military members and their families.
“I am proud to salute the outstanding employers who have earned the distinction of being named Freedom Award recipients as we mark the 25th year of this highly-coveted recognition,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III. “The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve make significant contributions to our communities and our national security through their civilian and military careers. We owe a debt of gratitude to these exemplary employers who, by valuing and supporting their employees’ military service, enhance the strength, readiness and diversity of our National Guard and Reserve forces.”