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News | June 12, 2023

DLA Aviation at Oklahoma employees build skills during deployments

By Natalie Skelton DLA Aviation Public Affairs

It’s not unusual for Defense Logistics Agency Aviation at Oklahoma employees to support warfighters with overseas deployments. Aaron Korstjens and Rachel Vardaman spent their recent deployments developing new skills that will help them continue to support stateside customers.

Korstjens, a sustainment specialist within the Strategic Acquisition Programs Directorate, deployed as a warfighter support representative, commonly referred to as WSR, in support of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command and New York Army National Guard’s 369th Sustainment Brigade, in Kuwait from September 2022 to March 2023.

“As a WSR, my primary duties were to serve as the face of DLA to the customer and support them in all classes of supply,” Korstjens said.

Support consisted of ensuring the customer had sufficient inventory of repair items, for which Korstjens produced an equipment status report and provided status updates. To speed up delivery of backordered items, he worked with supply support activities across the globe to procure items for lateral support and collaborated with stateside DLA personnel to expedite shipments and the awarding of purchase orders and requests.

“I learned a lot of skills that have assisted me with being better at researching and pulling information from sources that I wouldn’t have known about had I not been exposed to others who were willing to share that information,” he said.

Korstjens said he appreciated learning to pivot workloads when priorities changed quickly, common in forward deployed AORs. “For me, one of the best ways to be able to do that was to become incredibly good at being meticulous and organized. Beyond that, you learn patience and consideration for your teammates.”

Vardaman, a customer support specialist also deployed to Kuwait, providing administrative support to the DLA Commander and Deputy Commander.

“I assisted in setting up incoming personnel with badges, lodging, and connectivity. I also set up meetings, booked conference rooms, prepared for visits and made sure our vehicles received scheduled maintenance, inspections and repairs,” Vardaman said.

Deployment for Vardaman was an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how important every aspect of DLA is, and how working directly with the military provides a greater understanding of how DLA personnel support the warfighter.

She said her Kuwait assignment was more relaxed than her first deployment. “My very first deployment was in Afghanistan, so that was hostile territory.”