Knoxville company nominated for top DOD award

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WVLT) -- Three Tennessee employers have been selected as semifinalists for the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, including one in Knoxville.

The award is the U.S. Department of Defense's highest honor for employers that provide extraordinary support to their Guard and Reserve employees.

The employers are: City of Memphis Waste Water Treatment Plant, Eastman Chemical in Kingsport and Steel Plate Fabricators in Knoxville.

Employers selected as semifinalists assist Guard and Reserve employees through formal and informal initiatives, including setting veteran hiring goals, providing childcare for deployed employees, arranging care package drives, and granting additional leave for military employees and family members before and after deployments.

Steel Plate Fabricators was nominated by one of it's own employees. Cameron Lale's been with the company for seven years while serving in the reserves.

Despite several tours both at home and abroad, his boss Mike Russell has stayed in touch and always kept his job open and waiting.

"I just wanted to thank him, you know, more than just a handshake because he does more than that for me," said Lale.

Russell says his action's aren't noteworthy, just part of his job as an American.

"I believe that what Cameron does for his country is paramount for all of us, and I feel like it's just a small sacrifice that we, his teammates here at the company, can do for him and our country," said Russell.

Steel Plate Fabricators will be honored at a banquet later this month.

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