Covington post office up for national award

COVINGTON -- The Covington branch of the U.S. Postal Service is one of 67 Georgia employers nominated by an employee for the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. government for outstanding support of National Guard and Reserve service members.

Teresa Jones, a 14-year Postal Service employee and Army reservist, nominated the Covington branch due to what she said was support from Postmaster Shane Williams and supervisor Renee Mills that has gone "above and beyond" her expectations during her four deployments and fulfillment of her military duties stateside.

"Being an employee for Shane and Renee has helped me to be able to complete my missions in the military without any hassles or harassment," said Jones, a carrier technician for the Covington post office.

Williams said he has two employees serving in the military.

"We just allow them their time. We work around their schedules," he said. "I wish I could say we do something special, but we just allow them their time off. They're the heroes, not us. They're the ones leaving their families, leaving their jobs, putting their lives on the line."

Nationwide, nearly 2,500 Guard and Reserve service members and their families nominated employers. A national selection board comprised of senior defense officials and business leaders will select up to 15 recipients for the award. The Department of Defense will announce the recipients this summer and they will be presented their award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23.

The Employer Support Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense agency with the mission of gaining and maintaining employer support for service members by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law and resolving conflict through mediation.

Since 1996, 130 employers have been presented with the award, including Microsoft, Sears and Home Depot.