WASHINGTON -- The Department of Defense announced the 15 recipients of the 2019 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest U.S. government honor to employers for support of National Guard and Reserve employees.

"It is an honor to recognize these 15 exemplary civilian employers," said Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. "The strength of our military and the success of our defense strategy depends on the readiness of our National Guard and Reserve members. These dedicated citizen warriors could not accomplish their missions without employers who understand and support their military service. We are grateful to these organizations for their role in keeping our nation safe and for setting the standard for all employers of Guard and Reserve members."

The Freedom Award recipients below will be honored Aug. 23 at a Pentagon ceremony:

Archer Daniels Midland, Chicago, Illinois

Barclays, New York, New York

Callison Tighe & Robinson, LLC, Columbia, South Carolina

Chevron, San Ramon, California

Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, Lebanon, Tennessee

Delta Solutions & Strategies, LLC, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Direct Supply, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Eversource Energy, Hartford, Connecticut and Boston, Massachusetts

Houston Police Department, Houston, Texas

Kauai Auto Repair, Kalaheo, Hawaii

Levi Rodgers Real Estate Group @ RE/MAX Military City, San Antonio, Texas

LG&E and KU Energy, LLC, Louisville, Kentucky

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio

The Steel Network, Durham, North Carolina

West Valley City, West Valley City, Utah

The 2019 recipients were selected from 2,415 nominations received from Guardsmen and Reservists highlighting how their civilian employers went far beyond what the federal law requires to support them. The Freedom Award began in 1996 under the auspices of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional employer support, with 265 honorees to date.