KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Oak Ridge-based company is being recognized as one of the nation’s 15 recipients of the 2022 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

UT-Battelle, which manages the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, was nominated by Maj. Maria McClelland serves with the 119th Cyber Operations Squadron in Knoxville and works for Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The award is given to companies for their support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserves. It is the highest award recognizing employers given by the ESGR and the Department of Defense.

“The recipients distinguished themselves by going far beyond the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA, to support their National Guard and Reserve employees,” the Department of Defense said in a release.

This is the second time UT-Battelle was nominated for the award. They were nominated in 2019, also by McClelland.

The Freedom Award was first given in 1996. For the 2022 award, ESGR got 2,777 nominations for employers throughout the 50 states, Guam-CNMI, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.

In 2019, UT-Battelle was also chosen for the ESGR’s Pro Patria Award, as the top large employer in Tennessee, according to the state. This award is given each year by each ESGR State Committee to one small, one large and one public sector employer. To be chosen, the company needs to show the greatest support to Guard and Reserve employees.

The Freedom Award will be officially presented on Sept. 19 at McGhee Tyson Air Base in Knoxville.