Today our country honors the men and women who have served in the military. We celebrate and express our appreciation for all they have done to defend our country and promote freedom and democratic ideals around the world.
More than ten percent of our staff at ACL have worn a military uniform at some point in their lives. Some of them served for a few years, others retired after a full military career, and still others fall somewhere in between. Some are still serving.
We have people who served during World War II and Vietnam, as well as many who served during the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their service took them around the globe, sometimes into harm’s way. Many of them continue to be actively involved in efforts to support veterans and service members.
In our 2017 celebration of Veterans Day, we introduced you to some of them with our Facebook photo album. This year, we have added a few -- and a few of last year’s faces gave us new pictures. Some of them, like Keri Lipperini, also told us a little bit more about their military service, and how it helped prepare them for their service as civilians. I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I did.
I am a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, and I am proud of each and every one ACL’s veterans for their service. I also am grateful that they have chosen to continue to serve our country in their roles at ACL.
As Regional Administrator for Regions 6 and 8 and supervisor of two of ACL’s veterans, including fiscal operations specialist Robin Boldoe, Percy Devine puts it, “Their loyalty to our agency mission, commitment to team work and willingness to go the extra mile is appreciate and respected.”
I also am proud of ACL for being a workplace that recognizes the strengths veterans bring, and of our staff, who make ACL a great place for veterans to work.
In fact, last year, two of our supervisors were recognized with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Award for their support of Reasonable Accommodations Specialist Sophia Newman in her service with the Air Force Reserve.
In her nomination of Terry Nicolosi and Cory Gilbertson, Sophia said, “my leadership takes an active interest in my military career, encourages education and growth in both my military and civilian career and encourages a healthy work life balance. This support from my leadership has been invaluable in reducing stress that most certainly exists with having to manage both military and civilian employment."
ACL also is working in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs to create an opportunity for veterans with service-connected disabilities to gain on-the-job training and experience to help them transition to career fields that suit their abilities and interests.
In addition, I am proud of the generosity of spirit of those in the ACL family who have not served in the military themselves, but who go above and beyond to help support those who have. These include JulieAnn Chavez, who is about to begin lending her sewing talents to the Quilts of Valor initiative, and Heather Menne, who bakes cookies and other treats and ships them to deployed service members at least once a month as an “Angel Baker” with Soldiers Angels. And these are just two of the many examples I could tell you about.
Finally, I also am proud of the work being done every day by everyone at ACL, and by our partners in the aging and disability networks, to make it possible for our older veterans, and veterans with disabilities, to live as independently as possible in their communities. This includes everything from our work with the VA on the Veteran-Directed Care program which is specifically for veterans, to programs that help people of all ages manage chronic conditions or find the assistive technology they need, to those like our nutrition programs, which help provide the fundamentals of health and wellness – and everything in between.
Our veterans have sacrificed in the name of preserving our nation’s independence. They deserve to maintain their own throughout life and regardless of disability. As you have heard me say before, at ACL, we believe that one of the best ways we can honor their service is to help make that possible.
If you are a veteran, thank you for your service and sacrifice on behalf of our nation. Today, and every day, we at ACL salute you!