BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
The session opened with a show of hands. Sort of.
“How many of you received formalized training when you became a DSR? Raise your hand.”
About 50 disposal services representatives, some with decades of experience, were in the room. Zero hands went up.
“Most DSRs are out there, pretty much doing it on their own,” said Greg Dangremond, DLA Disposition Services Customer Relationship Management program manager and DSR training cadre member. “Your primary job is to facilitate the disposal needs of the customer. That sounds really easy, but you know it’s really complex.”
The complexity at the root of the agency’s front line disposal role is why the sub-command’s headquarters is hosting the first of what it calls “DSR University,” a 3-day breakdown of what it means to be the person the warfighter sees when they deal with DLA. More than a dozen training sessions in Battle Creek July 23-25 cover everything from sales to receipt-in-place to the mobile office to the nuclear enterprise.
“The role of the DSR has become more and more challenging and more of a time management issue. We know you’re getting tugged in different directions. We’re going to try and wrap our arms around what it is you do,” Dangremond said.
Every DSR will eventually attend the course. They will all be asked to contribute toward curriculum development that informs the education of the next generation of DSRs. Participants will not only test their knowledge through written tests, but they’ll be asked to give their insights during the creation and refinement of a frequently asked questions section in the Digital DSR tool available on the DLA Disposition Services website.
“You’re going to help us improve the answers until we have it rock solid,” Dangremond said. “Eventually, there will be hundreds of FAQs with hundreds of solid answers.”
Phil Coward hails from the Tucson disposal site, where he has served as a DSR since 2012. He said he was attending, hoping to get some solid answers about DoD policy on issues like expended brass turn ins. He said customers had sometimes cited inconsistency between the information DSRs provided them as a source of frustration.
“Hopefully, we can get to the point where we’re all putting out the same information,” Coward said. Despite any challenges, he cited the variety of the role as very satisfying. “I like it. It’s not the same thing every day. You’re meeting different people. Every customer’s situation is different. You don’t know what you’re going to see in the field.”
Lavette Rush is still relatively new to the job. After serving on an expeditionary disposal team as a soldier, she started working at the Warner-Robins site as a civilian DSR just four months ago. She said she loved the job and hoped to learn from the other representatives in attendance.
“I’m excited to get to know people from other sites, just seeing how they do their jobs and handle their workloads,” Rush said, and added that she was thankful for the chance to participate and contribute. “I like that it’s not just the higher-ups making decisions, but actually getting input from the people doing the work in the field.”
Dangremond said another goal for the session would be the eventual creation of a “basic battle rhythm” for new DSRs.
“We want to give them a good idea about what they should expect to be doing,” he said. “We’re going to leverage your input this week, because who knows better about what DSRs do than those who are doing it.”
Army Col. Wayne Bondy, the deputy director of DLA Disposition Services, told attendees that role standardization, driven by the need to pass an audit, was an inevitability. He said Director Mike Cannon felt that DSR University was one way to help baseline front line staff for what their duties and responsibilities are.
“You are the organization’s face to the guys and gals in uniform,” Bondy said. He called participants the most important bloc in DLA Disposition Services, because of their interaction with warfighters. “Mr. Cannon and I think [DSR University] is one of the best things we can do for you and one of the best things we can do for the organization.”