Honoring USACAPOC(A) Soldier and DA Civilian achievement in the time of COVID-19 safety

By Sgt. First Class Lisa Litchfield | U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) | Nov. 24, 2020

FORT BRAGG, N.C. —

With the world turned upside down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional and routine can sometimes seem like the brightest spot in the day. So was the case Tuesday, Nov. 17th as the U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers and civilian staff of United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) held a socially distant awards and recognition ceremony at the headquarters building.

Held as a way for Brig. Gen. Jeffrey C. Coggin, commanding general, USACAPOC, to recognize the hard work and tremendous dedication of the Command’s civilian employees and military staff, the ceremony was arranged in a way that fully embraced CDC and local safety COVID-19 guidance while still allowing maximum celebration and participation for the event.

“COVID-19 added in some new challenges this year,” agreed Ms. Hope Norton, secretary of the general staff, USACAPOC. We ensured people's safety by ensuring the number of people in the room did not exceed 10. And of those 10 people in the room, we ensured they were socially distanced at 6 feet apart.”

Adding to the safety measures were the precautions of mask wear by each participant, and the audience engaging virtually as the event was streamed in real time to allow for celebration by colleagues and friends.

The event went a long way to ensure that the accomplishments of the awardees were not just given off-hand recognition, but would be part of an official ceremony to mark the years of experience and expertise they have brought to the table on a daily basis.

“Every day, our employees come in and do amazing work -- never asking for or seeking recognition -- they just do what they do because they know how important their piece of the puzzle is to the overall mission,” said Norton. “They're key to the success of the command and Brig. Gen. Coggin wanted to honor and recognize that with a recognition awards ceremony.

Coggin himself acknowledged the importance of public recognition even in these trying times.

“This is one of the great things I get to do as a commander; recognize the achievements and hard work of our Soldiers and civilian employees,” Coggin said. “Today we have recognized over 200 years of dedication, motivation and initiative here in USACAPOC in service to the United States Army … it’s going to be big shoes to fill.”
“Thank you for that motivation and dedication that you’ve shown every day and continue to show,” he continued.
Included with the military awards and civilian years of service recognition this year was a new element – retirement.

“Adding in the retirements rounded out the ceremony in the sense,” explained Norton. “We started the ceremony by recognizing the length of service of employees still currently serving and then ending it by recognizing employees who are closing out their careers.”

Ceremonies like this are critical, especially in this challenging environment, because they let people know that they are valued, appreciated, and their work has not been in vain or gone unnoticed. During COVID-19 it lets employees know that even in a global pandemic, their work is paramount to the success of the organization.

“People have been feeling pretty isolated so having an opportunity to connect with others -- even from 6 feet apart -- and being told ‘thank you for your service...we can't do what we do without you’" was a real morale booster for everyone,” concluded Norton.

Awardees included:
LTC Kristy Wolter (IG) – Meritorious Service Medal
MSG Mark Garland (HHC) -- Meritorious Service Medal
Mr. Eddie Spears – Commander’s Award for Civilian Service
Ms. Elizabeth Fernandez – Commander’s Award for Civilian Service
Ms. Elizabeth Holman (G3) – 40 Years of Service
Mr. Brian Wilhelm (G3) – 40 Years of Service
Ms. Shirleen Gandy (G4) – 25 Years of Service
Ms. Ivy Mata (G3) -- 25 Years of Service
Ms. Kathy Futrell(G3) – 25 Years of Service
Ms. Angela T. Hammond – 35 Years of Service
Mr. Billy Wells (G3) – 10 Years of Service
Ms. Kasandra Herbert (IR) – 5 Years of Service
Mr. Eddie Spears (G3) – Retirement, effective 31 Dec 2020
Ms. Elizabeth Holman (G3) – Retirement, effective 31 Jan 2021

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