By Veteran Staff
Energy and Environment Cabinet
November had a number of special holidays but military veterans employed at the Energy and Environment Cabinet, the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Department of Education were singled out for honor the entire month at the “300 Building” due to one particular day– Veteran’s Day.
JD Sparks, Division Director with the Department for Natural Resources (DNR), had the idea to identify and honor employees in the multi-agency building who had served their country in the military – as well as employees’ family members who were veterans, by putting up a building lobby display marking each of their service.
“I got the idea from my last job at Toyota,” Sparks, a Marine veteran, said. “We would be nowhere without our veterans. I wanted to do it for the full month so that people recognized that it was more than just “Veteran’s Day” on the 11th.”
All personnel working the building and in field offices were eligible to submit a form with information on their service or the service of a family member. Seventy five responses were turned into a display that honored many branches of the military and a spand of more than a century.
Some of the entries included veterans that served in the Navy, Army, Marines, Coast Guard and the Air Force, with one employee currently deployed to Kuwait.
“When I heard that there was going to be a display honoring veterans at 300 Sower I felt real appreciation for the sentiment,” said Logan Willett, an Environmental Scientist with the Division for Air Quality (DAQ) who previously served in the Coast Guard. “I truly respect everything my fellow veterans have done for our nation, and they deserve to be recognized for their service.
“I also feel that it is important to realize just how many of our members have served in the armed forces, and the value that such a background adds to our organization. It is undoubtedly a testament to the importance of the work we do here that so many of us want to be a part of.”
Joseph Uliasz, an Environmental Control Supervisor with the Department for Environmental Protection (DEP), previously served in the U.S. Army. “I am a third generation veteran, with my grandfather who was sent to Berlin and my father being a career soldier,” Uliasz said. “When I saw the Cabinet was honoring veterans all during November, I was proud, proud of my service, (and) the service of my family and my coworkers’.”
Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely extended his sincere thanks to everyone in the building who served our country in the armed forces.
“I grew up in the military as the child of a career Army NCO, and I have seen, firsthand, that military service teaches a person the true meaning of courage, honor and respect, in addition to teamwork, discipline, sacrifice and many other important human values,” Secretary Snavely said. “Honoring our veterans goes without question. They deserve it and much more.”
Rich Seiler, a Marine veteran who works as an Environmental Scientist in the Division of Enforcement, said he was speechless for a moment when he saw the board with the veterans’ write-ups and photos. “The places I have been employed at in the past have either no mention was ever made about veterans or we were brought in front of an entire shift during a meeting and given an American flag pin with handshakes all around.
“Veterans everywhere have different opinions of what Veterans Day means to them, but most of the ones that I have ever met, like to take that day and reflect on their time as well as remember others. I was proud to hear the all-around thanks and handshakes I received that day from everyone. It definitely made it special.”
Chip Mullins, an Environmental Scientist with DEP, who previously served in the U.S. Navy, said he was impressed with the way veterans were honoring all month.
“I was glad someone put forth the effort, especially for our war-time veterans. We all gave some, but some gave all.”
Carrie Searcy, an Information Officer with the Department for Energy Development and
Independence (DEDI), who previously served in the U.S. Army, called the display a really nice gesture. “I have family that served in the military in each generation all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Honoring veterans is all about remembering what has been sacrificed.”
Mark DeCandia, the National Assessment of Educational Progress State Coordinator with the Department of Education, who served in both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air National Guard, said the month-long honor brought to mind the many NCO’s he learned from, who had served in Vietnam and were treated badly when they came home.
“The United States appreciation for veterans has increased since Vietnam,” DeCandia said. “They deserve the true honor and the heartfelt, welcome home.”