Military leader professional development: lunch and learn

By Bonnie Koenig DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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A military leader professional development “brown bag lunch’ event was held in the Lotts Conference Center on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. Defense Logistics Agency Aviation military personnel and a representative from Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center came together Jan. 27 to share information about their partnership program.

 Special guests were Paul Sander, program director for the Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program at the VAMC and Julie Coffman, United Service Organization representative from Fort Lee, Virginia.

The VAMC’s PTRP provides, to those who need help, a progressive return to independent living through a comprehensive residential rehabilitation program focusing on home and community.

Sanders’ said there are five major PTRP centers across the United States: Tampa, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and here in Richmond, Virginia.

“There are over 100 other smaller centers across the United States,” he said. “The Richmond site is the only facility that includes the Servicemember Transitional Advanced Rehabilitation  program known as the STAR program.”

Sander said the program was developed by a team of Richmond doctors to enhance the resources for veterans to reintegrate back into the community, for their families, and get them back to work. He added they are working to get the STAR program available at other facilities.

Two of DLA Aviation’s employees, Stewart Young and Angel Rodriguez, customer account specialists in the Customer Operations Directorate and graduates of the STAR program, shared experiences of their physical, mental and emotional healing and their transition as employees to DLA Aviation.

“The [DLA Aviation] Army team was my lifeline,” said Rodriguez. “They gave me the opportunity to become an employee and work in the Army section. I am always thankful to them and DLA for the opportunity.”

DLA Aviation’s Army Maj. Alex Shimabukuro, Army Customer Facing Division operations officer was the action officer for the event. Shimbukuro said the partnership is important in supporting our warfighters. “DLA’s military personnel have visited the veterans at McGuire and have seen the amazing work the PTRP does for them,” he said. “The STAR program provides hope, rehabilitation, training and potential employment to our wounded warriors at the VAMC.”

Sander said the VAMC offers compassion, tolerance, respect and the best care possible for their veterans and asked the military leaders to reach out to their patients as mentors.  He said their staff not only focuses on the physical healing, but also mental and spiritual healing. Part of that healing is community reintegration, which is being able to get back to a purposeful life in the physical world, back as a co-worker, spouse and as a parent.

He said he wanted to speak with DLA’s military leaders, who not only may be future customers, but also to help them to understand how to help those they lead.  He encouraged them to form these types of partnerships in their community wherever they are stationed.

Sander said DLA has offered direct support by helping train veterans with skill development needed to do a particular job and has donated equipment to help with physical therapy training.

“As leaders you can make an incredible difference in our veterans’ lives by supporting these programs … it’s what being a part of the military is all about … it’s about helping and making a difference in someone’s life,” said Sander.

He thanked Rodriguez and Young for letting him witness their amazing accomplishments. “Nobody can appreciate the challenges you have faced and the hills you have climbed. It does my heart good to witness that you are not sitting back taking it … you are still fighting through it with a true warrior spirit,” said Sander.

Coffman gave an overview of what services
Fort Lee’s USO location offers to military families. They offer a relaxing place for military families to have a cup of coffee and snack, use the computer lab, or enjoy the gaming center. They also offer the United through Reading Program where deployed or separated military members can record themselves reading a book and have it sent to their child. They also have free tickets for military families to local sporting and entertainment events.