Pentagon Annual Awards Ceremony Honors 9 Top Employees

Nine Defense Department were honored today for their service, dedication and professionalism to help make the world “a safer and better place” for Americans today and those who will follow, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said here.

In a Pentagon ceremony, the deputy secretary honored eight employees with DoD’s Distinguished Civilian Service Awards at the 60th annual event, and the ninth employee with the 11th annual DoD David O. Cooke Excellence in Public Administration Award. 

“You bring honor to the tradition of the civilian workforce and public service,” Work told the honorees. “Your dedication strengthens our country’s security and prosperity.”

Awards Mark DoD’s Highest Honors

The Distinguished Civilian Service Award is the highest recognition DoD can give, and it is presented to a small number of civilian employees whose careers reflect exceptional devotion to duty and significant contributions of broad scope in policy, scientific, technical or administrative fields that increase effectiveness and efficiency, DoD officials said.

For non-managerial career civilian employees with three to 10 years of civilian federal career service, the David O. Cooke Award recognizes future federal executive potential that exemplifies the namesake’s talents. Cooke’s 55 years of federal service included about 44 years with DoD, where he is recognized as a public official who championed a cooperative spirit and improved operations, officials said.

Honorees Rose Up to DoD Challenges

“We face many challenges as a department, a military and as a nation, but these individuals exemplify the qualities and determination that allow us to meet these challenges head-on,” Work told award winners, their families and coworkers.

Each honoree excelled while fulfilling DoD’s critical mission to organize, train and equip a joint force that is ready for war and is operated forward to preserve the peace, the deputy secretary said.

Work said he was proud of the initiatives the honorees developed with a focus on warfighting while also saving DoD billions of dollars in a time of shrinking budgets and fiscal uncertainty.

The past few years have been particularly challenging for the civilian workforce, the deputy secretary noted.

“We’ve gone through government shutdowns, furloughs [and] we’ve had unprecedented budget uncertainty,” he said. “And throughout this period of political and budgetary gridlock, the civilian workforce has continued to do the job [it] has always performed.”

Given such issues, the deputy secretary said the “entire” Pentagon leadership is grateful for its civilian workforce.

Civilians Vital to Defense Mission

DOD civilians are absolutely critical to the military mission and as important to U.S. national security as those in uniform, Work said.

“There are some people who say government employees are overpaid and underworked,” he said. “That is total nonsense. I would defy anyone in this great nation and especially those who question just how hard our governments civilians work to come here for one day, get in their shoes, and try to go through the uncertainty and great turmoil we all face, and try to make that claim.”

2015 Honorees

The recipients of the 60th annual DoD Distinguished Civilian Service awards are:

-- Virginia Beall, head of campaign analysis and modeling in the assessment division, Chief of Naval Operations;

-- Kathleen Brest, senior medical acquisition advisor, Army Medical Materiel Development Activity;

-- Charles Hans, supervisory senior intelligence officer, operational assessment group, non-state threats division, joint intelligence operations center, Defense Intelligence Agency;

-- Donna Hightower, deputy product manager, unmanned aircraft systems project office, Department of Army;

-- Frederick Moorefield Jr., director, spectrum policy and programs with DoD’s Chief Information Officer;

-- Lynda Rutledge, deputy program executive officer, fighters and bombers, Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, Department of Air Force;

-- Daria Stafford, live-fire test and evaluation staff specialist, DoD’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation; and

-- William Wunderle, division chief for the Iran, Iraq and Syria division, deputy directorate for politico-military affairs Middle East, J-5 Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The 11th Annual DOD David O. Cooke Excellence in Public Administration awardee is:

-- Chelsea Goldstein, combating weapons of mass destruction planner, Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)