AKRON—Goodyear's commitment to serving members of the U.S. Armed Forces was recognized Aug. 26 during a special ceremony at the Pentagon. The Akron-based tire maker was among 15 companies to receive this year's Secretary of Defense Freedom Award, the nation's highest honor given to employers for exceptional support of Guard and Reserve employees.
“These 15 awardees are helping to make the Department of Defense and our country stronger," Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said during the ceremony. “Today, more than ever, the commitment they've shown to our country, and to those who serve our country, is indispensable.”
Carter presented Steve McClellan, president of Goodyear Americas, with the award—a tall bronze eagle.
According to Goodyear, more than 2,400 companies were nominated for the award.
“I nominated Goodyear for the Freedom Award because I've experienced firsthand the heartwarming and outstanding support they're willing to give veterans, guardsman and reservists,” said Chris Wozniak, engineering manager at Goodyear Innovation Center Manufacturing and a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reservist. “The thread of patriotism runs deep throughout all facets of the organization, whether it's with new hires, transitioning veterans or even associates who have never served but are passionate about supporting our troops.”
In recent years, several initiatives have highlighted Goodyear's support of military personnel, including:
- Hiring 1,000 Guard, Reserve and veterans from 2011-14 and renewing that commitment in 2015;
- Supporting members of the U.S. Armed Forces and families through its annual “Support Our Troops” campaign, which has generated more than $1 million over the past six years; and
- Receiving executive leadership support for the company's military employee resource group, which advises hiring initiatives, mentors new Guard and Reserve employees and provides community and company networking assistance.
Goodyear has received several other awards for its commitment to serving and supporting the military. Among those were the Pro Patria and Above And Beyond Awards—two similarly-judged awards from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Goodyear also was recognized as a Military Friendly Employer by G.I. Jobs magazine for its leadership in hiring and supporting veterans.
“Although Goodyear is being recognized for our efforts as a company to support our troops and honor veterans, we believe that what we receive back from our veteran associates is truly invaluable,” McClellan said. “The dedication, work ethic, perspective and ingenuity that they bring to our offices, plants and retail stores every day is the real reward for Goodyear.”