UNC Health Talk

UNC Health Care receives 2014 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award from Department of Defense

Chapel Hill, N.C. –­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, announced UNC Health Care as one of 15 recipients of the 2014 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The Freedom Award is the Department’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of Guard and Reserve employees.

This year’s recipients were selected from 2,864 nominations received from Guardsmen and Reservists for going far beyond what the federal law requires to support their military employees.

“I’m honored to announce the recipients of the 2014 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “Guardsmen and Reservists across the nation rely on strong bonds with their civilian employers. By recognizing these 15 exceptional employers, the Department of Defense celebrates the contributions made by American employers to our Citizen Warriors. I commend these extraordinary employers for their unwavering commitment to service members and their families.”

UNC Health Care was selected for several reasons, including:

  • UNC Health Care employees volunteered to maintain a military couple’s house while both were deployed and actively took on extra work responsibilities to support the service of their colleagues.
  • The health system recognizes veteran employees and actively recruits military members and their spouses for employment.
  • UNC Health Care is currently developing a master’s degree physician assistant program for veteran medics to continue their medical careers after leaving the military.

The plan to establish a PA master’s degree program at UNC Chapel Hill was announced in December 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) and the UNC School of Medicine, with input from U.S. Army Special Forces Command, developed a plan for a program that could provide a pathway for U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Sergeants to translate the skills and expertise gained through military service into a civilian career. BCBSNC made a $1.2 million commitment to help the University launch the program. The new PA program assists military veterans while also helping to meet the growing need for highly trained health care professionals in North Carolina.

“We are deeply honored to be selected for this award,” said Timothy M. Weiner, MD, a pediatric surgeon at UNC Health Care and a Navy Reserve Commander in 4th Medical Battalion, Detachment 2. “As a member of the Navy Reserve myself, I am very proud of the support that UNC Health Care provides to our many National Guard and Reserve employees.”

For more information about the Freedom Award and this year’s recipients, view the full announcement.

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. In the years since, 190 employers have been honored with the award. To learn more about ESGR, visit www.ESGR.mil.

For questions or interviews with UNC Health Care representatives, contact Jennifer James, Director of Communications, at 919-966-7622.

For questions or interviews regarding the Freedom Award, contact Beth Sherman, ESGR Public Affairs, at OSD.ESGR-PA@mail.mil or by phone at 571-372-0705.