Cooley Receives ‘Highest Recognition’ by U.S. Government for Supporting Colleague’s Military Duties
Christopher L. Cooley, MD, a physician at Hattiesburg Clinic Eye Associates, was recently given the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for his support of a colleague’s military duties.
Cooley was nominated by Curtis J. Shaffer, OD, who serves as an optometrist at Eye Associates and a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.
“The Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their outstanding support of employees serving in the Guard and Reserves,” said Staff Sergeant September D. Wallace, who presented Cooley with the award.
Each year, Guard and Reserve employees have the opportunity to nominate their employer for the Employer Support Freedom Award. The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) State Committees review nominations and submit the recommendations to advance to the next level. The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996.
Shaffer said because of Cooley’s ongoing support of his military service, it was an easy decision to nominate him for the award.
“Anytime I’ve ever needed [to take leave] he’s allowed me to go. He’s always made me feel like he was honored to do it if it helped me to do my job,” said Shaffer.
According to the Secretary of Defense website, up to 15 awards are presented nationally each year to employers in three categories: large business, small business and the public sector.
“It’s a privilege to receive the highest honor that the National Guard awards employers,” said Cooley. “We live in a great country where our freedom should not be taken for granted. I admire Dr. Shaffer for the sacrifices he and his family make in serving our country.”
To learn more about ESGR and the Freedom Award, visit www.freedomaward.mil.