Knox company named Freedom Award finalist

Knoxville metal shop Steel Plate Fabricators is one of two East Tennessee companies to be named a finalist for 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Also named a finalist is specialty chemicals maker Eastman Chemical of Kingsport, Tenn., Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense office announced Tuesday.

The Freedom Award is the Defense Department’s highest recognition presented annually to employers “for going to extraordinary lengths” to support their employees who serve in the Guard or Reserve.

The company was nominated by Cameron Lale, a staff sergeant in the Air National Guard.

In nominating his employer, Lale “wrote that when a clerical error delayed his military pay, the owner of the company provided him a loan to support him until the pay issue was resolved,” ESGR said in a news release.

Eastman Chemical was cited for  additional week of paid leave to employees returning from military deployment and providing other services to employees in National Guard and Reserve.

“The 2013 Freedom Award finalists demonstrate the type of outstanding support our National Guard and Reserve Service members count on when answering the nation’s call to serve,” said ESGR National Chair James G. Rebholz.

Thirty employers nationwide were selected as finalists from a pool of 2,899 nominations. Fifteen Freedom Award winners will be announced in early summer.

Click here for more on the Freedom Award.