Over 200 firms, organizations apply for state defenders recognition

The 'Riigikaitsjate toetaja' will acknowledge those firms, organizations and others who are on board with Estonia's national defense.
The 'Riigikaitsjate toetaja' will acknowledge those firms, organizations and others who are on board with Estonia's national defense. Source: Ministry of Defense

Close to 200 companies and other organizations have applied for recognition as defenders of the state, an honor being awarded for the first time this year.

Dubbed the "Riigikaitsjate toetaja" (English: "Supporter of defenders of the state"), candidates were submitted mainly by reservists, from which a jury selected 50 of the most outstanding, who will be entitled to display the mark denoting them as state defenders' supporters.

Martin Reisner, director of the defense resolve department at the Ministry of Defense, said: "From the submitted candidates, it can be observed that Estonian entrepreneurs grasp the role they play in national defense, and are ready to support our nation's defenders, by continuing to pay them a wage during training sessions, to offer them discounts or allowing, for instance, flexible working hours for the family member of a reservist."

"The recognition of "Supporter of defenders of the state" is intended to highlight the most outstanding supporters ," Reisner added.

The awardees will be recognized at a ceremony on June 19, to be presided over by President Alar Karis, Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform), Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces Gen. Martin Herem and Commander of the Defense League (Kaitseliit) Brig. Gen.Riho Ühtegi.

The ceremony comes just four days before Victory Day (Võidupüha), June 23, and will be held at the national war museum (Eesti Sõjamuuseum) in Viimsi, just outside of Tallinn.

A recent Ministry of Defense survey found 55 percent of employers are willing to pay for their reservist employees to attend training sessions, compared with 22 percent who said they were not ready to do so. The remainder were either undecided or did not have staff who were reservists or in the Defense League.

In the same survey, 54 percent of employers said they rated their awareness of the content and goals of military service and study gatherings at "modest," suggesting there is still more work to be done even after the recent successes.

Previous studies have shown that nearly 40 percent of employers find that the experience gained by reservists during their military service benefits the company and the staff member, as well as the nation.

Another study reports that that the average income of those who have completed military service exceeds that of those who have not.

The jury who selected the awardees included representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the EDF and the Defense League.

The winning companies and organizations will be notified of the award at the beginning of the new week, via e-mail.

EDF reservists mostly comprise those who have completed a term of conscription, and remain on reserve lists and thus liable for annual service thereafter. While the two organizations are being brought even closer together in the changed security situation, this is distinct from the volunteer Defense League, although in practice time off from work may be needed in the latter case also.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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