Supporting freedom, one employer at a time

  • Published
  • By Tyler Grimes
  • AFRC Public Affairs

The civilian employer of a Reserve Citizen Airman is among 15 nationwide recipients of the 2017 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Master Sgt. Young Chambers, first sergeant for the 413th Flight Test Group, nominated Accordia Urgent Care and Family Practice of Vidalia, Georgia, for the award, which is the highest honor given to employers for their support of National Guard and Reserve employees.

As a public relations representative for Accordia, Chambers said the company has been very supportive of his Air Force Reserve career, the careers of other Service members and veterans. The owner of the company, John Welch, has also served on active duty and as a traditional Reservist.

“A few specific things he has done is pay my full salary while I'm away on orders, created a job specifically for one of our members in the Reserve who had just recently been divorced and did not have a job to take care of her and her family, and held a Veterans Day luncheon that fed over 300 veterans and their families,” Chambers said. “He also paid rent for one of our military members and her five kids to live in base housing when she had nowhere else to go and donated a $500 TV to our annual Christmas party for a raffle drawing that helped raise over $1,000.”

As a Reservist for more than 13 years and four years as an active-duty Marine, Chambers said he is proud of his company’s commitment to military members, veterans and their families.

“For Accordia to be awarded as a recipient for the Freedom Award means a lot to me,” he said. “We were nominated as one of the top 30 finalists last year but didn't make the final cut. So this year we were finally chosen. It means even more this year because it shows the consistency my employer has toward me and my family and other members of the military, as well.”


The award recipients were selected from 3,064 nominated employers who exceeded federal requirements and provided exceptional support to military employees.

Each year, up to 15 awards are presented to employers in three categories: large business, small business and the public sector. Recipients will receive their awards at a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., August 25.

Nominations are sent to a national selection board of senior defense officials and business leaders for selection.

All Air Force Reserve and Guard personnel or family members acting on their behalf can nominate employers through the online application to ESGR at Nominations should come from a Guard or Reserve member who is employed by the organization being nominated or from their family member.

The award, established in 1996 under the umbrella of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve office, was first presented to Schneider National, McDonnell Douglas, United Parcel Service Central Florida District, Tektronix Inc. and National Life of Vermont. Since then, more than 200 employers have received the Freedom Award.