With pomp and circumstance provided by a local high school color guard, a singer whose voice could melt ice, and pageantry to mark the special occasion, approximately 125 IRS headquarters employees and guests celebrated this years’ Veterans Day in grand style in the historic building lobby on November 4, 2015.
After colors were presented by the Navy Junior ROTC from Northern High School in Owings, MD, Human Capital Office employee and vocalist Shelion Hinds sang a very sweet and soft rendition of the National Anthem.
Susan Greer, Executive Director, Office of Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, talked to the audience about growing up surrounded by the legend of two heavily decorated grandfathers and the mystery of World War II battles whose details she only learned over decades. She spoke of efforts by IRS’s Human Capitol Office to not only increase the numbers of veterans hired by the Service but also of efforts needed to retain them as attrition is currently outpacing new hires. She said the IRS is well-served by veterans with military leadership background and that veterans bring with them a history of working in a proven model of diversity and inclusion.
Retired IRS employee David Heiser, now executive director of Military Outreach for Service, spoke to the history and purpose of MOS and its role as a community of shared experiences within the larger organization. He also reminded the audience that IRS employees continue to serve in dangerous military posts around the world as part of their National Guard service and that we need to support these brave employees when deployed and provide whatever assistance we can to their families.
Guest speaker Chris Baity, executive director of Semper K9, a new nonprofit that rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to be companions to wounded warriors, confessed how dogs had helped him learn to deal with post-traumatic stress caused by his multiple deployments to war zones. He noted that many veterans, pre- and post-911, hide their injuries, especially PTS, and that companion dogs
often aid recovery better than other treatments.
Keynote speaker Jeffrey Tribiano, Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support, spoke of the support he received from family as he pulled double duty throughout the past couple decades – as an employee of a private firm or civilian government agency and as an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserves. Mr. Tribiano also spoke to the values military veterans bring but also of the sacrifices and heavy toll by those who serve our country in dual roles.
“Veterans bring a wealth of experience to the federal workforce, both tangible skills gained through their occupational specialties and soft skills like leadership, critical thinking, and making decisions under pressure,” he said. “Many serve in two capacities, as civil servants and as Reserve service members. We must do our part to celebrate the service of veterans, and to support the Reservists in our midst as they move between worlds. We shouldn’t penalize Reservists for having to deploy, but should instead support and celebrate their courage and their willingness to sacrifice on our behalf. We are an essential element of the support system that helps service members fulfill their duty, knowing their careers and families are in good hands, and await their safe return.”
Mr. Tribiano also reminded the audience that November is Military Family Appreciation Month and that it is essential that we recognize and provide support to the families of service members.
Wage & Investment employees Raymond St. Denis and Samantha Cairns, both veterans, presented a ceremonial wreath that will be placed at the David Bernard and 9/11 Memorial in the courtyard.
Attendees enjoyed a special Veterans Day cake and other food offerings and were able to meet representatives of nonprofit organizations that provide support to wounded warriors and veterans.
Human Capital Office employee Nate Phillips, a retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer and IRS Program Manager for Veterans Affairs Drefus Lane, Sr., a retired U.S. Army colonel, also assisted in the program.
The Veterans Day program was a collaborative effort by the IRS Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, the Taxpayer Advocate Service, and the Washington DC Chapter of Military Outreach for Service. MOS members Cathy Haines, Samantha Cairns, and Charles Taylor did most of the heavy lifting. A big kudo to them.