These employers distinguished themselves among the 2,899 nominations received from Guardsmen and Reservists, according to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
"I commend and thank the 15 recipients of the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for providing exceptional support to our Citizen Warriors," Hagel said. "So many of our nation's employers are finding ways to contribute to our security, but these employers stand out for their commitment to our Guardsmen and Reservists."
"They have the gratitude and thanks of the entire Department of Defense," he added.
Safeway was nominated by a member of the Navy Reserve. The nominator praised the company's special intensive training program for National Guard and Reserve junior officers and non-commissioned officers to prepare them for management positions within the company.
To date, 81 National Guardsmen and Reservists have been promoted as a result of the program. Safeway's military employees are featured on a Wall of Honor at the corporate office. The nominator said he would not have been able to serve his country without his employer's support.
The 2013 recipients will be honored at the 18th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26.