RockTenn up for military support award

Published 8:10 am Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RockTenn has been nominated for the 2011 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency, announced that the Demopolis paper-board facility was one of 84 Alabama Guard and Reserve service members nominated their employers Friday.

“We had some employees that were deployed out of Demopolis during the last deployment,” RockTenn’s Chuck Smith said of the Demopolis plant’s connection to the National Guard.

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RockTenn employees Jason R. Johnson and Hassan R. Ruffin were deployed in 2010 with the 2101st Transportation unit and returned in January of this year.

“One of the things that RockTenn does is keep up employees’ benefits and salary during deployment,” RockTenn vice president and general manager Carl Wright said.

The Demopolis plant also works to send its deployed Guard employees care packages whenever needed.

“What we try to do is, once a month, have someone see what the guys’ needs are and package it up and send it over,” Smith said.

According to Wright, the mill’s patriotism and continuous support of its deployed employees stems from the RockTenn’s corporate philosophy.

“All the way up to our CEO, Jim Rubright,” Wright said of how far reaching the company’s support of its military employees is. “He sends out letters. He has done a couple of videos to thank (deployed RockTenn employees).”

“RockTenn Corporation has been very instrumental in support of the troops,” Smith said.

The Freedom Award is the Department of Defense’s highest recognition for employers showing exceptional support to their Guard and Reserve employees. ESGR received 4,049 nominations from Guard and Reserve members across the nation, a 64 percent increase over last yearís total.

“I think it is just recognition that RockTenn’s efforts have been noticed and we stand out among our employees as having been a good employer,” Wright said of what the nomination means to the Demopolis facility.

The 2011 recipients will be announced this summer and honored in Washington, D.C. at the 16th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony on Sept. 22.

Recipients of the 2010 Freedom Award met privately with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community.