ECU given Freedom Award for support of military

Posted September 24, 2010 7:03 a.m. EDT

— East Carolina University received the Defense Department's top award honoring employers for their support of staff members who are part of the military.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard accepted the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Thursday night.

"These great young men and women – if you will, the greatest generation that we have today – cannot do what they do in service in the National Guard and Reserve without the support of their employers," Assistant Secretary of Defense Dennis McCarthy said.

ECU was among 15 employers chosen from nearly 2,500 nominations for the award. The university was nominated by its director of general surgery residency.

Ballard met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Vice President Joe Biden to receive their congratulations and thanks.

"ECU, a top military friendly school, has a strong veterans preference program, exceptional support for deployed employees and also (has) created an acclaimed family readiness program to ease the strains of deployment," Leon Harris, the master of ceremonies, said when presenting the award Thursday.

ECU was named a “2010 Military-Friendly School” by GI Jobs Magazine. The university has an office at Fort Bragg to advise service members about their academic opportunities.

ECU was also praised for its efforts to send care packages to deployed soldiers and to check on their families left behind. The university's Essential Life Skills for Military Families program offers a series of one-day workshops to help military families cope with deployments.

The university has previously been the recipient of several Defense Department Patriot Awards and the state-level Pro Patria Award for its support of the military

YouTube video: ECU receives 2010 Freedom Award