Humana a finalist for national award recognizing exceptional support of Guard and Reserve

By Master Sgt. Philip Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Master Sgt. James Tongate, a Humana employee and loadmaster with the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Squadron, speaks during a ceremony at Humana’s corporate headquarters in Louisville, Ky. Humana was being honored as a finalist for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to employers for exceptional support of employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. Also pictured is Mike McCallister, Humana’s chief executive officer. (Courtesy photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Humana Inc. was honored as a finalist for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award during a ceremony at its corporate headquarters here Nov 1.The award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to employers for their support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserves.

Robert Silverthorn Jr., a retired Army major general and chairman of the Kentucky Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, presented the honor to Humana chairman and CEO Mike McCallister.

“Today’s event, while it focuses on the National Guard and Reserves, represents another opportunity for Humana to say ‘Thank you’ to all our military-affiliated associates and their families,” McCallister said. “Humana understands the importance of the healthcare needs that the Guard, Reserves and their families face, especially in this time of extended deployments.”

In accepting the award, McCallister noted Humana’s progress toward its goal of hiring 1,000 former servicemen and servicewomen or their spouses by late 2014. The company has hired 928 veterans and spouses to date.

Master Sgt. James Tongate, a Humana employee and loadmaster in the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Squadron, also spoke at the event.

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Master Sgt. James Tongate hugs his daughter after his Air and Space Expeditionary Force (AEF) deployment. (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

“I’m proud to be a part of a company that strives to help those that have sacrificed for their country,” Tongate said.The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. In the years since, 160 employers have been honored with the award.ESGR was established as a DoD agency 40 years ago. It develops and maintains employer support for Guard and Reserve service, advocating for relevant initiatives, recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of applicable laws, and resolving conflict between service members and employers.

Paramount to ESGR’s mission is encouraging the employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce, officials said.

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