Supporting the employees who serve their country
From the IRS Intranet Newscenter - an interview by Maria Bluestone, January 22, 2014
Employer support enhances retention rates in the Armed Forces and in the end, strengthens our national security. To recognize employers who support their Guard and Reserve employees, the Department of Defense accepts nominations for the Patriot Award. Monica Lutz (Large Business & International, Charlotte, N.C.) was selected for a Patriot Award on Jan. 15 from more than 500 applicants in North Carolina. She was nominated by her employee, Sam Collins. (See related photo. Pictured (l to r): Jim Rorie of the Dept. of Defense, LB&I manager and award recipient Monica Lutz and Army Reservist Sam Collins.)
Sam Collins, the group clerk for LB&I Team 1205, has served in the Army Reserve for 10 years, is a senior paralegal in the Army JAG Corps and serves as the non-commissioned officer in charge of his team. In 2013, he was mobilized to serve for six months in the Army Reserve.
“You can ask any Reserve or National Guard member about the hardships of serving two masters, and they will tell you that it is very stressful to attempt to please them both. No matter how much you give the Army, they always seem to want more. Sometimes you can turn down certain duties or at least postpone or reschedule them, but there are times you don't have that choice. So when I tell my manager that I have to perform some duty for the Army, I've already been through the stressful situations of finding out myself that I have to go, going back and forth with my command about the details and then timing breaking the news to my family. It doesn't help if a manager compounds that stress,” Sam told us.
“Monica always put my mind at ease and told me not to worry about anything while I was gone. She always told me she would take up whatever slack she could for me and while I would be greatly missed, the group would do their part to get through without me. I always offered to be available by phone or to bring my computer with me in case of an emergency, but she told me I would have enough on my mind and not to worry, but to focus on my mission and my family. While I was away, Monica made sure I knew that if I needed anything or if she could help in any way, she would, and I never doubted her.
“I wanted Monica to know how much I appreciated her attitude, and I thought this award was the perfect way. I put her in for the award shortly after my return from my work at Fort Bragg last October. It took so long that I had just about given up on it. But I'm so happy they gave her the award she deserves. She did all the work—all I did was write about it.”
Monica thinks it’s crucial that working servicemen and women know they have the full support of the people they work for so they can do the best job possible. “Sam is a valuable asset to the Service, and I wanted him to feel that the role he plays in serving our country is equally valued,” she said. Nevertheless, she was completely surprised by the honor. “I didn’t even know about the nomination. I only became aware of it after I got the call from the Department of Defense regarding my selection. I was honored and deeply touched.”
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SB/SE manager honored by U.S. Coast Guard
From the SB/SE Web Connection newsletter, September 18, 2013
ACS contact representative Carl Licitra, also a U.S. Coast Guard reservist, nominated his manager, Ingrid Allgaier, for the U.S. Coast Guard Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot award.
Licitra had concerns about his IRS leave, pay and benefits while performing his military service. “She didn’t waste time getting me the information I needed about IRS policies on military leave,” he said. “I was really worried about this and how my family’s benefits would be affected while I was away from the IRS on military duty.”
Her completion of all the OPM paperwork greatly eased his mind, Licitra said. “Because of her actions, I nominated her for the award.”
The USCG Patriot Award recognizes individual supervisors for providing support directly to the nominating service member. The award reflects the efforts to support Citizen Warriors through a wide range of measures, including flexible schedules and approved leave, if needed.
When asked how she felt about the honor, Allgaier said, “It was the least I could do for someone who serves his country in a double capacity.”
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New York Veterans Awarded by Federal Executive Board
From the Wage & Investment Insider - Brookhaven Campus, May 2013
The New York Federal Executive Board annually recognizes innovation and excellence in government, reinforces pride in federal service and helps call public attention to the broad range of services provided by federal employees. This year spotlights two IRS employees also closely associated with the U.S. military who received awards at a May 2013 ceremony.
Anthony Cuccurese, a physical security specialist, won the Chairman’s Award for Valor. Aside from his duties at the IRS, Anthony is also a USMC Reservist who was ordered to active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2012. As the Georgian Liaison Team coordinator, besides directing the training of Georgian soldiers before they deployed to Afghanistan, Anthony acted as the liaison between U.S. Customs, interpreters and the U.S. Army. He worked to ensure their emergency and routine medical needs were quickly treated. He showed the true value of caring for troops by assisting each afflicted Georgian soldier offbase to local hospitals, often going between various locations to ensure the best care was provided. Anthony received a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his outstanding performance and tireless efforts to ensure the success of the mission.
Jennifer Noeller, a Buffalo Call Site AM manager, won in the Community Service category. Jennifer has been actively involved in community service since her childhood. Inspired by her father’s military service in Vietnam, she enjoys working with charities that benefit the less fortunate and particularly current and former military personnel. Jennifer arranges charitable contributions for local organizations and donates many hours of her leave time in service to others. She is a valuable volunteer to the Sub-Zero Mission, working to ensure the homeless, especially veterans, are taken care during the extremely cold Buffalo winters.Top of Page
Military training saves a life
From the Wage & Investment Insider, December 7, 2012
When Austin ACS lead Christina Morales sat down to enjoy fajitas during a recent group luncheon, she had no idea she would soon be thanking a co-worker for saving her life. As a piece of meat lodged in Christina's throat and obstructed her airway, she gestured to her coworkers.
In the time it took co-workers to realize the problem, customer service representative Nagusta Marshall immediately sprang into action. Nagusta, a disabled Army veteran in the active reserves, quickly initiated the Heimlich maneuver and cleared Christina’s airway.
Christina said, “I realized I couldn’t dislodge the meat myself. I needed help." Nagusta commented, “I am happy that I was there and could apply my military training. This is my extended family, and as in the military, we take care of family.”
Nagusta served a tour in Iraq and has been with the IRS almost three years. Her ops manager Kevin Stewart said, “She proved yet another value we reap as an agency when we hire veterans; the value of an individual who takes immediate action to come to the aid of a co-worker.”Top of Page Top of Page
IRS mom proud of her hero son
From the Wage & Investment Insider, December 5, 2012
Troops volunteer daily to leave their homes and go anywhere in the world their country asks. They accomplish missions ranging from peace keeping to search and destroy in the war on terror. Most never consider the fact they may also have to step up and help save people at their stateside duty station.
When CARE secretary Sena McEachin shared her son’s story, she also shared a mother’s pride in her son’s actions. “My son called me saying that he and his friends had just run into a burning building and saved several families and their pets. He said that it wasn’t until afterward that he thought about it or that they could have been killed,” said Sena. “My heart was racing, but I was definitely proud,” she added.
Private First Class Dijion McEachin and seven other soldiers from G Company, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, were at the Richard Hills Community Center in Fort Drum, N.Y., on Halloween day for training, when they saw smoke billowing from an apartment building across the street. The upper floor apartment was only showing smoke at first; then it erupted into flames. These brave soldiers didn’t stop to think about the personal risk — they just acted because they knew what needed to be done. Dijion and his fellow soldiers called 911 and helped residents and their pets out of the apartment complex. Because of their quick actions, the building was cleared before the responding fire department arrived.
For their heroism, the Army recognized the eight soldiers with an award ceremony and presentation of the Army Commendation Medal. Staff Sgt. Eduardo Rodriguez, Spc. Eric Anderson, Spc. Ronrico Philips, Spc. Chris Schneider, Spc. Khiry White, Pfc. Dijion McEachin, Pvt. Jonathan Mendoza and Pvt. Michael Parham had risked their lives to save strangers. Top of Page
(Reprinted from the Wage & Investment Insider electronic newsletter, Aug. 3, 2012)
Puerto Rico ACS welcomes soldier home
ACS Puerto Rico collection representative José Martínez received a hearty welcome from his friends and co-workers after returning from a yearlong deployment to Kuwait. José, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army, served as the non-commissioned officer in charge for medical operations, training and support of 10 units in multiple countries. As NCOIC, José was responsible for more than 500 soldiers and contractors. He previously deployed to Iraq in 2008.
José’s co-workers celebrated his return with a small reception, which was a great way to honor one who so proudly served his country. They also surprised him with a special visit from Chief Master Sgt. USAF ANG Héctor Mejía Velazco. He personally welcomed José, one military man to another, and presented him with a special Air Force coin as a salute to his safe return.
ACS department manager Richard E. Hernandez acknowledged José’s commitment to both his job and the military. Richard said, “We know the importance of helping our soldiers cope with their responsibilities during post deployment. His ACS family prepared this celebration to welcome José and help him during his transition.”
José has been with the IRS 10 years and in the Army for 17. He has a wife and young daughter. Welcome home, José.Top of Page
(Reprinted from the Wage & Investment Insider electronic newsletter, Aug. 3, 2012)
Honolulu SPEC supports women veterans
SPEC tax consultants recently attended the Honolulu Women of Power Stand Down to show their support for women who served in the military. The event, which was sponsored by theStrategist and the U.S. Department of Labor, featured representatives from the Veterans Administration and the Hawaii Air National Guard.
A Stand Down is a military term used to describe a safe position outside of a combat zone where weary soldiers retreat to rest, reboot and reenergize. The Women of Power Stand Down pairs women veterans with other women veterans who have life lessons to share. More than 50 people attended the event, which focused on women teaching women how to thrive, land their dream job or start and grow a business.
During the event, SPEC consultants shared brochures and answered questions regarding EITC, free tax preparation services, volunteer recruitment for the Volunteer Return Preparation Program and how to access services for account issues.
“We promoted tax preparation volunteerism as an opportunity to engage and support their community,” said SPEC senior tax consultant Gail Bonilla. “Identity theft was a concern facing one of the veterans, and many were seeking employment opportunities.”
In addition to receiving valuable and inspiring information, the attendees could participate in Zumba dance exercises with a Hula infusion.
“The event was a rewarding opportunity for women veterans to receive recognition for their service and to obtain support and services for their future endeavors in life,” Gail said.Top of Page
SPEC provides tax assistance to homeless veterans
(Reprinted from the Wage & Investment Insider electronic newsletter, May 23, 2012)
Veterans organizations in partnership with various community agencies and volunteers hosted their first North Carolina Foothills Homeless Veterans Stand Down in late April. Veterans from 10 counties gathered in large numbers to take advantage of a wide range of free services, such as medical, dental and ophthalmologic care as well as tax counseling and return preparation.
The Charlotte SPEC office and the Greensboro Taxpayer Advocate office partnered with Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina to provide four VITA program volunteers to help with tax preparation. Another VITA partner, the American Red Cross, pitched in to provide laptops, printers and internet connectivity.
During the event, approximately 20 veterans with general tax inquiries received assistance at the IRS booth and six of them had their tax returns prepared. The final numbers showed that more than 400 people attended the event, and next year is already in the planning stages.Top of Page Top of Page
IRS Employee Consulted on Homeless Veterans Documentary
(From the W&I Offline newsletter, Cincinnati Campus, April 2012).
When a production crew working on a documentary film recently visited the area to shed light on the plight of homeless veterans, they hired a Cincinnati Campus employee as a volunteer consultant.
Area agencies that provide services to the homeless are familiar with Kathleen Casper. She’s been volunteering as an advocate for the homeless for 13 years. When asked who could introduce the film crew to some of the area’s homeless veterans, workers at one agency didn’t hesitate to mention Kathleen’s name.
“I’m very active with the homeless community and known to have a close relationships with many of its people,” she said. “I agreed to help set up some interviews with veterans at one of the camps.”
The documentary, When Jane and Johnny Come Marching Homeless, is a feature-length film. According to its website, “It’s about the hidden wounds veterans have always faced upon returning home from war. The battle doesn’t end when a soldier returns home. For many, it’s just the beginning.” The film is being produced and directed by Emmy Award winning film editor Nina Gilberti (film editor of the television series Criminal Minds and producer of several other documentaries). “She is travelling the country filming about this subject and is passionate about getting the true story out,” Kathleen said.
Working in her capacity as an unofficial unofficial consultant for the film, Kathleen arranged for Nina to interview four veterans. “The vets had served at various times during Vietnam, Korea and Desert Storm. All of them were either homeless, or formerly homeless, and are close friends of mine,” Kathleen said. “I got them together and then met Nina at a gas station. I guided her and the film crew to the camp where I introduced her and told her a little about their stories.”
What initially began as a two-hour assignment, evolved into a full day for Kathleen. “I stayed with Nina during the entire day of filming in Cincinnati. We started at 9 a.m. and went until 4 p.m. All of that time was spent at, or near, one particular homeless camp.”
Kathleen was very pleased with the overall experience. “It’s very exciting to have a famous Hollywood film director interested in this subject that is near and dear to my heart. I hear a lot of people claiming to support our vets, but in reality many vets with psychological wounds are often ignored.”
Often times they are driven away from their families and away from society, and they become outcasts, Kathleen said. “I have been privileged to know many of them at that point in their lives. It has brought tears to my eyes hearing what they’ve been through since coming home from serving in the military. I try to be a part of helping them to transform their lives.”
If the film puts an end to stereotypes, Kathleen believes it will succeed in its mission. People have negative impressions of the homeless, she said. “Each person has their own story and has a need to be loved and respected, just like everyone else. Like most of the problems in this world, all it really takes is some love and support to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Although filming in the Cincinnati area has concluded and the film remains unfinished, it has Kathleen’s unwavering support. “Two years and $200,000 have been invested so far,” she said. Kathleen is hopeful the filmmakers will find the financial means necessary to finish the project. It’s currently in the final stages of filming and she hopes to see it air within the next year. “I expect to see it either in the form of a mini-series or as a PBS documentary.”
At the end of their day together, Nina asked Kathleen why she dedicates her life to the homeless, and what one thing she would say to the American people on behalf of homeless veterans. “I told her I do it because I don’t accept the fact that lives can be tossed away, and that everyone has something to offer. When I see lives transformed, that is all the reward I need,” Kathleen said. “I would ask people to recognize that not all the wounds of war are visible. The invisible wounds these veterans suffer can be devastating, and compounded when their fellow citizens turn their backs on them. These are our brothers and sisters, after all.”
Kathleen Casper is an IRS employee in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information about the film, visit http://www.jamontoastproductions.com/.Top of Page
WILL Servant Leaders sow the seed in their community's soil
(From the IRS Wage & Investment Insider website, February 15, 2012).
American author Orison Swett Marden once said giving "is like the seed put in the soil — the more one sows, the greater the harvest." That's just what members of W&I's Leadership Lesson's class in Oakland, Calif., have done since completing the classroom portion of the WILL curriculum — they've sowed the seeds of service by helping the men, women and children of their community. Whether through care packages, warm clothing or setting an example of fitness and good health, their efforts went a long way in making a difference.
Caption: Oakland's WILL class displays the items they collected for their local military troops. Participants include: (front row, left to right) Leslie Griffith, Sharon Jarvis, Brenda Morris, Veda Perkins, Patricia Thompson, Lennie McQueen; (middle row,left to right) Doris West, Nicole Harris, Julia Bailey, Eric Fain, DeMarcoe Porter, Marsha Smith; and (back row, left to right) Jean Hatfield, Dwayne Wilson, Nykeya Powell-Lee, LaToyia Williams and Michael Benkaim.
Oakland's WILL class supported The Alameda County Blue Star Moms, by putting together a care package to support East Bay Area troops in the military. A local chapter of The Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc., this non-profit organization is made up of mothers who now have, or have had, children serving in the military and who support each other and their children. Class member Patricia Thompson said, "It was a very rewarding and sobering experience as I prepared Christmas care packages to send to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought about how many of our troops were so far away from the comfort and joy of family during the holidays and the contributions and sacrifices they were making to make it possible for me to enjoy my family. I was surprised at how a simple and familiar item from home can put a smile on a soldier's face. This program is so worthwhile and so rewarding."
Brookhaven team supports co-worker’s family member and his ship mates deployed overseas
(From the IRS Wage & Investment Insider website, February 12, 2012).
When the Brookhaven Campus Support’s ICT Team 408 learned Terry Weber’s nephew (Gregory) was deployed to Kuwait in July 2011, they showed their support immediately. What began as sending a few care packages periodically to his assigned navel ship grew into shipments of 2 to 4 care packages a month.
Caption: Service men and woman aboard the Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (Mesron 2) sent their thanks with a note and photo to ICT Team 408 for the monthly care packages they received from the team.
In November, the team received a thank-you note from Gregory, along with a picture of the entire naval ship crew. When they saw how many service people were based the ship, they quickly realized they needed to increase their support as the holidays approached. For Christmas, the team filled 10 care packages and shipped them in time for holiday delivery. They also included an additional box that contained signed Christmas cards for the entire ship.
Manager Kathleen Kenny knows what a special group of people she has in Team 408 saying, “They went above and beyond to help support a co-worker’s family and our men and women stationed overseas, whom they have never met.”Top of Page
North Carolina SPEC tax consultant gives back to troops through VITA training
(From the IRS Wage & Investment Insider website, December 23, 2011).
SPEC senior stakeholder relationship tax consultant Carolyn Mukombe is responsible for managing military tax sites in the Greensboro Territory. She begins scheduling tax law and Taxwise training a year in advance in order to accommodate all of the military bases within the territory.
“Over the years, I have always enjoyed visiting each base and getting to personally provide tax training while thanking the troops for their hard work and dedication to the VITA program," Carolyn said.
At Ft. Bragg Tax Center in Fayetteville, N.C., the largest military tax site in the Greensboro Territory, Carolyn typically trains 50-75 volunteers each year. Last year, the Ft. Bragg Tax Center operated six days a week and electronically filed almost 7,000 federal returns. This year, the tax center will be even busier with troops returning from Iraq. The tax center will offer traditional VITA return preparation and participate in the FAST program. Eligible taxpayers will be able to prepare and efile their own return with assistance from fellow volunteers.
Carolyn's background has prepared her well for these duties. She served on numerous details to the Education and Product Development staff in Atlanta where she has been instrumental in developing and revising training materials used nationwide. She also worked with the Quality Program Office, serving on the QSS Cadre in 2010 and has been selected to serve on it again in 2012. Carolyn is the lead instructor and usually has a staff of two to three co-workers who assist her during tax training.
Carolyn Mukombe (right) poses with the staff of the Ft. Bragg Tax Center in Fayetteville, N.C.
Tax Information for Active Duty
Special rules and tax benefits apply to our military colleagues. Watch MOS member Richard Guernsey explain these rules in an IRS YouTube tax video, visit your local military tax center, or get IRS Publication 3, Armed Forces' Tax Guide (HTML or PDF) for more information. All of these are free resources.
IRS assists with Stand Down event for homeless veterans
(From the IRS Wage & Investment Insider website, October 11, 2011).
McCoy Pavilion in Hawaii recently held its first ever Stand Down event for homeless veterans and their families. Veterans arrived by foot, car and bus to attend this one-stop shop of resources for homeless veterans.
They walked the red carpet as they entered the event that was held to honor and assist them. Veterans received assistance in the form of free haircuts and clothing, plus medical and financial help.
Internal Revenue Service employees from Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC), Field Assistance and Taxpayer Advocacy Service offices, staffed a table and provided information about free tax preparation assistance services, tax credits, providing account transcripts and problem solving services. Senior tax consultants Gail Bonilla and Edna Nomura, from SPEC, handed out information, pens and buttons.
As veterans worked their way through the event, they received stamps that earned them a free meal. The event was deemed a success since this IRS team effort assisted more than 150 veterans.
Image Control Team pays homage on Memorial Day
(From the IRS Wage & Investment Insider website, June 29, 2011).
The Cincinnati AM Image Control Teams recently paid homage to fallen soldiers, veterans and active military members with a red, white and blue military display they created for Memorial Day. Nancy Mullins, Team 101 file clerk came up with the idea and presented it to ICT management who immediately embraced the idea. Nancy then requested assistance from co-workers, Danielle Miller and Debbie Bauer. The threesome collected recruitment posters and solicited contributions from other team members. Also contributing to the effort were Ray McCloud, Brian Elam and ICT manager Jason Greiwe.
The group submitted personal photos, memorabilia, written stories and articles about themselves and family members who have proudly served in the military. “ICT is proud of all military members — past, present and future,” Nancy said.
Some of the photos on display include a younger Jason, who was in the U.S. Army from 1989-1992, standing atop an M-1 Abrams Tank. He served in the Persian Gulf from 1990-1991. In another photo, Jason holds an M-16 rifle. Several of his immediate and extended family members have also served in the military. Also on display are copies of military patches from the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division and the 2nd Armored Division. Other contributions to the wall include items from Brian's father, who served in several countries overseas, and a DD214 honorable discharge paper from Ray. Nancy's grandfather served on the USS Virgo. She contributed photos of him along with photos of two nephews who are currently serving — one in the Navy, one in the Army. Both spent time in Afghanistan.
“I’m very proud of Nancy and the other employees who helped in this effort by contributing personal items for the display,” Jason said. “The wall turned out great and I’ve received numerous compliments.”
Veterans employment programs keep rolling along to success
(From the IRS Wage & Investment Insider website, May 9, 2011)
Employing veterans in the IRS workplace is both a challenging and worthwhile experience, just like keeping our troops supplied along the dusty trail.
In W&I, the trail master is Pamela McBride. As the veteran employment coordinator, Pamela is the primary point of contact for IRS Wage & Investment (W&I) and serves as liaison to the IRS Veteran Employment Office.
“As the VEC, I facilitate the process of identifying positions and obtaining resumes of candidates, providing training and assistance to the managers, and maintaining W&I documentation of the program for reporting to leadership,” Pamela said.
President Barack Obama got the first caissons rolling back in November 2009, when he signed Executive Order 13518, Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, establishing the Council on Veterans Employment. On the same day, Austin Compliance under Jim Clifford launched their Warrior Intern Program pilot effort with 10 interns, in conjunction with the Department of the Army. Three were eventually hired as fulltime employees, while two are still participating as interns.
Toward the end of 2010, W&I leadership had decided to expand the program. Two more veterans were placed in an IRS internship status. In January of this year, the caissons continued to roll. Due to the efforts through Pamela’s office, in collaboration with the IRS Veteran Employment Office, W&I had placed 40 veterans in these intern programs by the end of March.
By March of this year, the IRS had placed some 70 veterans in intern programs across the service. So far, this infant program is showing steady progress. Bernie Coston, director of the W&I HCO Accessibility Office, noted that even with continuing resolutions and budgetary constraints, "We started a year ago with a pilot program of 10 interns and currently have over 40 interns in a fully implemented program, an improvement of 300 percent in a year's time."
Pamela, who has more than 20 years of experience as a Department of the Army contractor, civilian employee and Army wife, sees these barriers as only temporary. "IRS managers are excited about providing quality training and work experience to the wounded, injured or ill warriors and veterans through these internship opportunities," she said. Pamela provides one on one support in placing veterans in situations designed to foster success.
One recent success story can be found in Ogden, Utah. According to a page one article in the May issue of the Ogden Campus offline (see story below), 14 veterans began work as non-paid interns under the IRS' Veterans Employment Program. According to Pamela, while these interns started with W&I in mid-April, one of them has just joined three SB/SE interns who are now filling SB/SE full-time paid jobs under the Veterans Recruitment Act, which focuses on people with disabilities.
The veterans employment trail may be a dusty one with many challenges, but Pamela McBride has a solid grip on her mission and will keep the program rolling along. For more information on this program, contact Pamela at (404) 338-8631 or e-mail the W&I Human Capital Office's Accessibility Office.
Caption: Veterans, (back row, l-r) Jeremy Moosmann, Kirby Brotzman, Steven Shattuck, David Varela, Pheniel Gomaz, Aaron Ota, James Butler, (front row, l-r) Rebecca Bates, Ann Wheeler and Jerry Bench, join the NPWE program as interns on day shift.
Veterans Employment Program provides work experience to our country’s veterans
(From the IRS Wage & Investment Offline newsletter, Ogden Campus edition, May 2011)
The IRS Ogden Service Campus recently welcomed 14 veterans as interns to work as part of the newly established IRS Veteran’s Employment Program. This program is designed to provide quality training and work experience to wounded warriors and veterans by offering various non-paid internship opportunities within the organization.
The VEP is an umbrella that includes three non-paid internship opportunities for transitioning military members and veterans. Ogden has implemented the Non-Paid Work Experience Program, which is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program.
Site Coordinator Sally Pierce, and the alternate point of contact Corey Clark, assisted the W&I veteran employment coordinator Pamela McBride through the process of identifying positions, obtaining résumés of possible candidates, interviewing and selecting interns, organizing background checks and campus visits, developing individual training plans, new hire orientation and program feedback.
“This has been an awesome example of teamwork,” said Pamela. “Sally and Corey not only stepped in and helped bring this all together locally for W&I, but also have lent a hand to the VECs of the other business units on campus.”
Veterans will work in positions that include clerks, tax examiners, customer service representatives, computer operators and data transcribers. As interns, they will gain valuable work experience, skills and knowledge that will contribute to their overall desire to obtain permanent federal employment.
“This has been a very valuable learning experience,” said Corey. “We are very proud to have been involved with this program and be the first to bring in such a large group at one time.”
Corey says they look forward to watching the program continue to grow and to see the veterans gain the valuable experience they will get while working here.
Warrior Transition Brigade appreciates Compliance managers
From the IRS Wage & Investment Offline Newsletter, Austin Campus, May 2011
Sergeant First Class Kevin Burgin, of the Fort Hood, Texas Warrior Transition Brigade, recently traveled to Austin to present several compliance managers with certificates of appreciation for their participation in the Warrior Intern Program.
Those who received certificates were either former or current managers of WIP interns or coordinators of the program and included Sandra Avery, Pauline Bennett, Emily Gutierrez, Marie Rogers, Veronica Alfaro and Jon Lawson.
Burgin also introduced the new civilian transition coordinator, Anthony Thomas. A military retiree of 23 years, Thomas will be one of two transition coordinators for the Warrior Transition Brigade in Fort Hood. Master Sergeant Eric Bigness, who was unable to attend, will represent the military as the other transition coordinator. He will replace Burgin who will retire soon from military service.
Wage & Investment Austin Compliance Field Director Jim Clifford, who was instrumental in starting the Warrior Intern Program, thanked everyone for attending and for recognizing the value of our veterans in the workforce.
The Warrior Internship Program was started in Austin in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Army with the goal of helping wounded warriors transition to civilian employment. According to Ernie A. Beltz, Jr, Veterans Employment Manager for the Department of the Treasury, over non-paid 75 warrior interns are working in positions within Treasury and Treasury bureaus, especially in the IRS, across the country with many more in the pipeline.
Caption:Sgt. Kevin Burgin (in uniform) of the Ft. Hood Warrior Transition Brigade, along with his future replacement, Anthony Thomas (in suit) recently acknowledged the managers of WIP interns or coordinators that included, (standing, l-r) Emily Gutierrez, CS Director Jim Clifford, Marie Rogers, Sandra Avery (seated) and Pauline Bennett.
Warrior Intern Program expands across IRS
From the Wage & Investment Offline Newsletter, January 2011
The Warrior Intern Program (WIP), piloted in Austin, continues to expand to all IRS business units. Linda Ortiz, local Veteran Employment Program coordinator, and Ernie Beltz, Veteran Employment Program manager for the IRS and Treasury, welcomed a group of IRS employees to Austin. They were selected from various IRS business units to help coordinate the expansion of the Warrior Intern Program. The newly appointed individuals, veterans employment coordinators, or VECs, represented a variety of offices ranging from Appeals, Criminal Investigation and Taxpayer Advocate Service to Small Business/Self-Employed, Modernization and Information Technology Services and Large Business & Investments.
The VECs attended a one-day classroom training where they heard from Austin Compliance Director Jim Clifford and from two of Austin’s own wounded warriors who are now fulltime employees, Tommy Green and Jonathan Goodier. Ogden HR specialist Brandy Kawaguchi commented on Jim’s presentation and said, “His speech was so passionate. You can see that he believes in the program and wants it to be successful.”
On day two of the training, the entire group took a field trip to Ft. Hood in Killeen. Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Burgin provided information on Operation Warfighter and the benefits derived by the wounded warriors that participated in the WIP in Austin. The VECs also toured the rehab center in Ft. Hood and received additional briefings. By expanding the program to all regions, not just those in close proximity to military hospitals or bases, injured soldiers can recuperate at home while still participating in the WIP.
Linda said, “The VECs were anxious to return to their PODs to reach out to management in their business units for interest in expanding the program nationally.” The participants were inspired by the presentations and came away from the experience very motivated.
Caption: Ernie Beltz (left), IRS and Treasury Veteran Employment Program manager, and Linda Ortiz, Austin local Veteran Employment Program coordinator, accompanied several newly appointed veterans employment coordinators on a field trip to Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas. The coordinators, selected from various IRS business units will help coordinate the expansion of the Warrior Intern Program.
Warrior Transition Brigade recognizes Jim Clifford
From the IRweb Spotlight, January 29, 2010
Major Marc McKinley and Sergeant Kevin Burgin of the Ft. Hood Warrior Transition Brigade recently recognized Austin Compliance Director Jim Clifford (who is also one of the founders and executive governance board members for MOS-IRS) for his involvement with the Warrior Intern Program at the Austin Campus. The impromptu ceremony surprised Jim as he accepted a statue of an American bald eagle with an engraved glass plaque. Major McKinley thanked Jim for his active involvement in making the Warrior Intern Program a success. Jim said he accepted the award with honor and will display it with pride.
After the presentation, Major McKinley and Sergeant Burgin visited two of the interns who work for Eben Files in the Examination Dept. Eben reported that both vets have already made suggestions and provided ideas on how to make improvements to the workflow.
The Warrior Intern Program is a pilot program underway in Austin that offers intern positions at the IRS to returning veterans who are ill, injured or wounded. Since the program’s inception last fall, 10 wounded warriors have reported to the Austin Campus, and two of the veterans are now full-time IRS employees.
Two from Warrior Intern Program join IRS full time
From the W&I Insider, January 20, 2010
Two veterans who were among the first to participate last fall in the Warrior Intern Program pilot in Austin are now civilian employees of the IRS. Staff sergeants Tommie Green and Terrance Briscoe were sworn in recently as full-time permanent tax examiners in ACS. Both men will tell you they had never considered a job at the IRS when they first heard of the new intern program.
Terrance (who goes by Tony) spent 20 years in the military before his injury. He had no plans for the future when he joined the intern program. “I was scared to death,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do when I got out. This job relieved my stress and allowed my healing process to begin. I’m ecstatic.”
Tommy was anxious about making it through the rigorous application process. He said, “I was very proud to make it after being in the military for 12 years. It’s hard going through an interview after being out of the civilian workforce for so long.”
Both men work under ACS manager James Price. Tommy said, “I’m working for a great manager and with terrific co-workers. They’re very helpful and quick to share information with me. They work together for the betterment of the team.”
Every intern was assigned a mentor from various functions from across the agency at the beginning of the program. “My mentor has been a real big help. Art Gandara (SB/SE, Chicago) and I talk twice a week,” said Tony. Tommie’s mentor is Katherine Leonard from LMSB in Iselin, N.J.
Austin Compliance Director Jim Clifford, a founding member of MOS-IRS and a guiding force behind the recruitment program, said, “These are the first Warrior Intern Program participants to be converted to salaried employees, and we are very proud of achieving this milestone. This marks a significant achievement in our efforts to repay the men and women who so bravely serve our nation and to make the IRS the employer of choice for our veterans.”
Military Outreach for Service-IRS, W&I, SB/SE and the Human Capital Office joined together to launch a program to help these wounded warriors transition back into civilian life through the Warrior Intern Program pilot underway in Austin. The program gives developmental training for intern positions at the IRS to returning veterans who are ill, injured or wounded.
A warm welcome to Tony and Tommie — we’re proud to have you on our team.
IRS helps wounded vets take that first step
From the IRweb Spotlight, January 12, 2010
Imagine returning from your military tour of duty wounded, unemployed and uncertain of your future. Where do you start rebuilding your career? Military Outreach for Service-IRS, W&I, SBSE and the Human Capital Office partnered together to launch a program to help these wounded warriors transition back into civilian life through the Warrior Intern Program pilot underway in Austin.
WIP provides returning disabled veterans developmental training for intern positions at the IRS. The program provides four to six months of non-paid on-the-job training, flexible work hours and mentoring for each candidate. WIP is designed to help veterans transition back into civilian life by building their confidence and giving them skills they will need to build successful careers.
Ernie Beltz and Karen Davis, staff assistants in the Commissioner’s Executive Secretariat office, are both members of MOS-IRS and serve as mentors. Karen’s last military job was processing wounded soldiers as they left their posts and returned home. “This is a great opportunity for me to help them on the other side of that transition,” she said.
Ernie wasn’t sure what to expect when he became a mentor. “It was amazing how quickly everyone became good friends,” he recalled. “I get great feedback from my protégé. These soldiers are concerned about leaving the comfort and security of their Army family,” he said. “They’re quickly finding that their new IRS family in Austin makes them feel right at home.” The Beltz family even hosted the interns and mentors at their Texas home during the initial training session. Currently, there are 10 active duty Army interns from Ft. Hood participating in the trial program.
The MOS-IRS team will share results of the pilot with IRS leadership in the spring before making any decisions about expanding the program nationwide.
Behind the scenes
MOS-IRS thought IRS needed an organization that supported veteran employees and helps recruit other vets to the Service. Austin Compliance Director Jim Clifford contacted the Army Career Assistance Office at nearby Ft. Hood and discovered the Wounded Warrior Brigade, a vocational rehabilitation program for returning soldiers.
Linda Ortiz, a department manager in Automated Underreporter at the Austin campus, plays the “mother” role for the participating soldiers. She has a son who has served in the military for several years and understands what they are going through when they return to the states. And, she explained, “I’ve worked in several of the areas where the soldiers are assigned, so I’m able to show them how what they are doing will help them build a career.”
Wage & Investment Employee Answers the Call
From the Wage & Investment Insider, October 27, 2009
By day, Kathy L. King is the CAS manager of Team 5007, Dept. 5, at the Dallas toll-free site, but on nights and weekends, she takes on a very different role. Most of her co-workers knew that Kathy was very active in helping her neighbors in need. However, when she spoke at a recent managers’ conference about answering the call, her co-workers listened in awe to the amount of time and energy that Kathy dedicates to the local community and to the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces.
As a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Kathy assists with a yearly fundraiser to support the troops deployed overseas. This year’s event not only raised enough money to send care packages to approximately 1,000 soldiers, but there was enough money left over to send $1,000 checks to some families of deployed soldiers.
MOS-IRS Member Thwarts Potential Suicide
Derived from the SB/SE Web Connector, July 8, 2009
Relying upon his Army training, a Chicago-area revenue officer thwarted a potential suicide at a taxpayer’s home.
Lawrence Kagan, a sergeant major in the U.S. Army Reserve, and an RO since 1987, dropped in on the taxpayer after two unsuccessful phone attempts.
The taxpayer invited Kagan inside, where they sat at a formal dining table. Fully aware of his debt, the man declared his intention to pay immediately. Kagan replied the IRS always likes to hear that and asked how he planned to pay.
“He told me he was going to kill himself today,” Kagan said. The man said that was his only escape from his debts and disclosed his likely method. He claimed his life insurance contained no suicide exclusion; thus, it would pay all his creditors in full.
The man also showed Kagan a copy of the letter he planned to leave his wife and some stamped letters to his creditors. He added that he was about to leave to commit the act when Kagan arrived.
Quickly assessing the situation, Kagan saw no weapons, nor telephone nearby. He said though the man projected a calm demeanor, he trembled noticeably.
“I decided to just focus on the taxpayer,” Kagan said, “because I saw the situation could turn quickly.”
As he employed active listening and the man relaxed, Kagan searched his wallet—on the pretext of getting a business card—to check his Army suicide prevention card called ACE. Concealing the card in his hand, he reviewed it as much as he could while maintaining eye contact.
Army suicide intervention—ACE
Ask your buddy
- Have the courage to ask the question, but stay calm.
- Ask the question directly; e.g., “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
Care for your buddy
- Remove any means that could be used for self-injury.
- Calmly control the situation; do not use force.
- Actively listen to produce relief.
Escort your buddy
- Never leave your buddy alone.
- Escort to the chain of command, a chaplain, a behavioral health professional, or a primary care provider.
—reprinted from U.S. Army publications
To get outside and call 911, Kagan used another pretext—the need to retrieve paperwork from his vehicle. However, he first requested a soft drink to keep the man busy and secured his permission to leave. The police arrived within minutes, surprised Kagan had arrived just in the nick of time.
“They said this was the most methodical suicide plan they had ever seen,” Kagan said.
The man’s wife conveyed her thanks to Kagan, as did the local police chief. Kagan also received a certificate of recognition June 11 from Arthur Gandara, director, Midwest Area Collection, Chicago, Ill. Acting Director Bruce Mitroff made the presentation in Schiller Park, Ill.
“I never felt my own safety was in danger,” Kagan said, “but knew I had to do something—and quickly.”
Kagan said he had a duty to the Army as a soldier to properly use his training, and a duty as a citizen to help the individual.
“I think listening to him, where I could almost repeat word-for-word what he was telling me, was the turning point in calming him down,” Kagan said.
Kagan also said it’s imperative to take whatever actions necessary to call for professional help.
“Don’t be a psychologist yourself,” he advised. “That’s not the thing to do at that point.”
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