Two Rhode Island employers are among 30 finalists nationwide for the 2017 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the Defense Department to employers for their support of National Guard and Reserve members.

Aspen Aerogels of East Providence and National Grid of Providence were selected as finalists from among more than 3,000 nominations nationally. A third Rhode Island employer, the Rhode Island State Police, made it to the semifinal round of some 150 employers nationwide.

Employers are nominated by Guard or Reserve members who are employed by the organization, or from a family member.

Each year, nationally up to 15 employers are honored in three different categories – large employers, defined as those with more than 500 employees; small employers, defined as those with less than 500 employees; and public sector

Aspen, nominated in the small employer category, is a leading energy technology company, providing thermal management solutions to the energy insulation market.

National Grid, chosen in the large company category, is among the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world.

Rhode Island is one of four states with two employers among the finalists. The other states with multiple finalists are Massachusetts, Minnesota, and California.

Besides Aspen, National Grid, and the Rhode Island State Police, other Rhode Island employers that were nominated were Rhode Island Hospital, Alashan Cashmere, Coventry Police Department, Lincoln Police Department, RC Metalworks, IGT, Mearthane Products Corporation, Operation Stand Down RI, FM Global, Social Security Administration, JH Lynch & Sons, Millward Brown Digital KANTAR, NAVFAC Midiant, and Orbana Law Offices, P.C.

Last year, Hope Valley Industries of North Kingstown was among the Freedom Award winners.

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.