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Gosh! The Freedom Award

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Oshkosh OhMyGosh! Oshkosh Corp. announced that it is slated to receive the Defense Department’s top award for supporting its employees who volunteer to serve in the National Guard and reserves.

The Oshkosh, Wisconsin based company is among 15 employers nationwide to receive the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award during an upcoming event in Washington, DC.

The Freedom Award is the highest recognition the U.S. government gives to employers for outstanding support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and reserves.

Company employees nominated Oshkosh, which designs and builds military vehicles and vehicle bodies, for the award for creating an environment they said made its employees who serve in the military feel not just accepted, but also applauded and rewarded.

Marine Corps Maj. Dion Angling, a company employee, reported that the company hosted a special going-away dinner before he deployed to Iraq in 2006, sent him care packages while he was gone, and hosted a welcoming lunch on his return. His co-workers surprised him by decorating his office for the occasion.

Army Capt. Nguyen Trinh, another company employee, praised Oshkosh for giving him the time he needed to prepare for his upcoming deployment, and keeping up its support when he was deployed.

“My company was very proactive in ensuring that I understood all the benefits I would continue to receive during my deployment, and what I could expect upon my return. The company has reached out to my wife by taking an interest in her well-being,” he said. “I am very fortunate to work for such a great organizati­on.”

Oshkosh demonstrates its support for its citizen-soldiers in other ways, too. A “Wall of Honor” appears at each plant, displaying reserve-component members’ photos and profiles. The company contributes to deployed employees’ unit family support groups and has coordinated transportation for their Guard and reserve employees to visit their families.

The company also contributes to the Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots program, regularly attends military hiring conferences seeking current and former service-members for its management positions, and pays the difference between its employees’ civilian and military pay while they’re on active duty.

Robert G. Bohn, Oshkosh chairman and chief executive officer, said the company is honored to receive recognition for the support it provides its employees serving on active duty.

“Our company continued to succeed, not only because of the strength of our product and services, but also because of the integrity of our people,” he said. “We are grateful for these employees who are essential in helping Oshkosh succeed while also serving the country in a separate capacity, and to support them is the right thing to do.”

Gordon Summer, executive director of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, credits employers like Bohn with ensuring citizen-soldiers are able to carry out their important dual roles.

“In the military, the best leaders are those who always take care of their people - and it is no different in the civilian workplace,” he said. “Oshkosh Corp. has shown that it takes care of its people. Its employees who are also reserve and Guard members know the company is helping take care of their family while they are away serving this country.”

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