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Associated Bank named 2021 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Recipient

National award recognizes Associated for commitment to veteran, military personnel

GREEN BAY, Wis. – July 23, 2021 – Associated Bank is a recipient of the 2021 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, in recognition of the organization’s exemplary support of its National Guard and Reserve colleagues.

Associated Bank, along with 14 other recipients, was selected from 3,382 nominations submitted by Guardsmen and Reservists highlighting how their civilian employers went far beyond what federal law requires to support them. Celebrating its 25th year, the Freedom Award is sponsored by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to recognize exceptional employer support, with 310 honorees to date.

“Associated Bank is very supportive of our veterans and military personnel while they are on military leave with the National Guard or Reserve and we are proud to be recognized for our efforts by the Secretary of Defense,” said Brent Tischler, executive vice president and executive sponsor of the Associated Bank Veterans Colleague Resource Group (CRG). “To further support our veterans, our Veterans CRG provides a network for military veterans within Associated to collaborate on important issues facing the organization and the personal and professional development of its members. The group leverages the knowledge and experience of its members to create awareness of the contributions of military veterans at Associated and in the communities we serve.”

Associated proudly offers support and benefits to veterans and military personnel and their families. Leave time, retention of benefits and full pay for colleagues on training and active military leave are also provided. Additionally, Associated’s Deployment Trip Program provides financial assistance to colleagues visiting a loved one prior to deployment. 

“Associated Bank has recognized the value that my military service adds to my professional role,” said Tom Irizarry, corporate risk management, Associated Bank and Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army Reserve. “They do not see it as time away from my job, but instead as a value-add to my professional experience and skill set. Any time I am away due to a training obligation, the support I have received has allowed me to focus on the mission at hand. This support has been paramount in insuring the high-level leadership and safety of my team and the accomplishment of our goals.”

The scope of Irizarry’s training in the military as a Civil Affairs Specialist includes planning, budgeting, project management, negotiation and public administration and has directly contributed to and complemented his role at Associated Bank. 

“In turn, I have been able to apply skills and training gained at Associated Bank in my military role, such as risk management, security, information analysis and executive reporting,” said Irizarry.

This is the first national award Associated has received from ESGR. The company has received numerous local and state awards from ESGR for its support of military members and their families.

“I am proud to salute the outstanding employers who have earned the distinction of being named Freedom Award recipients as we mark the 25th year of this highly-coveted recognition,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III. “The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve make significant contributions to our communities and our national security through their civilian and military careers. We owe a debt of gratitude to these exemplary employers who, by valuing and supporting their employees’ military service, enhance the strength, readiness and diversity of our National Guard and Reserve forces.”

For more information on careers at Associated Bank, visit For award information, visit and

Congratulations to our 2020 study group participants that successfully achieved SHRM certification!  


Tonya Ouradnik, SHRM-CP
Kelly Yaagoubi, SHRM-CP
Jill Lemke, SHRM-CP
Carley Becker, SHRM-CP
Kaitlyn Bauer, SHRM-CP
Ashley Carroll, SHRM-CP

FALL 2020

Becky Hendricks, SHRM-CP
Shannon Reilly, SHRM-CP
Chris Cohorst, SHRM-SCP

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