Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Utilities honored for helping part-time troops

By Erin Prater Published: May 5, 2013

Colorado Springs Utilities has been selected as a semifinalist for the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, a Defense committee said late last month.

It's the second year that the organization has made the list of 130 semifinalists for the award, the Department of Defense's highest honor for employers that go above and beyond for workers in the Reserve and National Guard.

Nearly 3,000 employers were nominated by Guard and Reserve members.

'I'm already looking at where the award is going to go ' in the office, Shirley Martinez, who works as an equal employment specialist for Utilities, said with a laugh.

'We know that we do a really good job of taking care of our National Guard and Reserve and our veterans. Being a disabled vet, I know how important it is that you feel like the work you've done for your country is appreciated, to know that there are people here to work with you, especially when you're being deployed. '

Utilities supports Guard and Reserve employees by presenting them with a booklet of information about their rights and setting up a meeting on benefits when they learn they're going to be deployed, she said.

While deployed, Utilities' part-time troops often receive emails, letters and care packages from fellow workers.

Upon return, they're treated to a 'reintegration celebration, ' which affords them an opportunity to get reacquainted with co-workers before resuming their duties, Martinez said.

Up to 15 recipients of the Defense Department's award will be selected and honored in Washington, D.C., this summer. DaVita, based in Denver, and JG Management Systems, based in Grand Junction, were also selected as finalists.

Pikes Peak region employers nominated for the award include the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, Everest College, The Harloff Company, Hewlett Packard, Life Time Fitness, TASC, U.S. Paralympics and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

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