CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) today announced that it has received the 2018 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest honor the U.S. Department of Defense gives to companies for their outstanding support for employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.
The award is presented annually by the Secretary of Defense, and Duke Energy was one of only 15 companies nationwide to be selected out of more than 2,300 nominations.
"We're extremely proud to support the men and women who serve our country, protect our freedom and who make our company great," said Duke Energy Chairman, President and CEO Lynn Good. "Our colleagues who serve in the National Guard and Reserve sacrifice so much for our country, and it's critical that we give them the support they need back home so they can focus on their mission while they're away."
Sam Johnson, a Duke Energy project manager in Charlotte and a major in the Marine Corps Reserve, nominated Duke Energy for the award because of the ongoing support he receives when he is called up for duty and training drills. Sam recently returned from two weeks in the Mojave Desert where he trained with his artillery unit.
"I know that Duke Energy actively cares for me and my fellow reservists," said Johnson. "My management understands the commitment I have to our country and genuinely cares about the welfare of my family and me. They ensure I have the tools and support I need while I'm away and ease my transition back to work when I return from duty."
Jonathan Butler, a Duke Energy work control center operator and an Army reservist who was deployed for 18 months to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, recalls the overwhelming support he received from his colleagues, including several care packages that were sent to his unit.
"I'm starting my 18th year of service. I will say from talking to some of my former soldiers that I was in the best possible situation with a company that fully supports the National Guard and Reserve soldiers," said Butler. "Not many of them experienced the same type of financial and moral support that I had. I'm grateful to my company for that experience."
Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Pipkin, a National Guard operations officer and 21-year Duke Energy employee, says he long ago recognized that the company benefits and co-worker support he received from Duke Energy far exceeded those received by others in his National Guard unit.
"When I was being deployed for Operation Noble Eagle, I looked around and there were 200 soldiers leaving that day," said Pipkin. "I saw less than five employers there seeing us off, and my company was one of them. To me, that says it all."
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense office whose mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by advocating relevant initiatives, recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of applicable laws and resolving conflict between employers and service members.
Highlights of Duke Energy's commitment to supporting its military veterans and employees who actively serve in the National Guard and Reserve:
Duke Energy employs more than 2,000 military veterans, from engineers who operate the nuclear fleet to lineworkers who connect customers to the grid.
Duke Energy plans to increase the number of hours of annual military leave with full pay for National Guard and Reserve members from 80 to 120 hours beginning Jan. 1, 2019.
Over the past year, Duke Energy's military recruiting team has attended more than 30 military-related events nationwide.
Together We Stand, a 450-member veteran-focused employee resource group, mentors new hires and helps veterans adjust to civilian life at Duke Energy.
Duke Energy actively participates in Enable America, a nonprofit funded in part by the Duke Energy Foundation that provides training and job placement assistance for disabled veterans.
Only 250 companies have received the Freedom Award since its inception in 1996. Duke Energy will receive the award during a formal ceremony held at the Pentagon on Aug. 24, 2018.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S., with approximately 29,000 employees and a generating capacity of 49,500 megawatts. The company is transforming its customers' experience, modernizing its energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding its natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves.
The company's Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit serves approximately 7.6 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Its Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to approximately 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. Its Commercial Renewables unit operates a growing renewable energy portfolio across the U.S.
A Fortune 125 company, Duke Energy was named to Fortune's 2018 "World's Most Admired Companies" list and Forbes' 2018 "America's Best Employers" list.