Veterans, National Guard members and Reserve members make up more than 30 percent of the Boise Fire Department’s workforce.
The department gives hiring preference to surviving spouses of dead military members; sends care packages and letters to its deployed workers; invites the families of deployed soldiers to department activities and provides free IT support so they can communicate with their loved ones; and has an appointed military liaison who helps military members and their families.
In one case, when a Boise Fire Department employee served eight consecutive years of active-duty deployments, his colleagues took care of his yard and landscaping. They also regularly checked on his house to ensure it was not becoming a target of burglary or vandalism. The department also organized a huge homecoming with uniformed members and fire engines upon his return.
All of those are among the reasons the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded the fire department the 2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, according to a news release. The department is one of 15 organizations – public agencies and private companies – nationwide to receive this year’s award.
Recipients were selected from 2,960 nominations received from Guardsmen and Reservists for going far beyond what the federal law requires to support their military employees. Boise Fire Department was nominated for this award by Boise firefigher Major Nathan Ingram, who also serves as commanding officer of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Company C, 4th Tank Battalion.
The 2015 Freedom Award recipients will be honored at a ceremony in the Pentagon Aug. 21 and may get to visit the White House.