News | Dec. 31, 2019

Family Advocacy Program manager reflects on 18 years of federal service

By Diana Dawa, DLA Distribution Public Affairs

Having served 18 years in Federal Service, Ann Walker, Family Advocacy Program manager, Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management Susquehanna, is retiring. Walker’s last eight years of service have been with DLA.

“Prior to federal service, I worked at a residential facility for children who required specialized placement. I worked at Dunham Army Health Clinic at Carlisle Barracks (Pennsylvania) as the clinical Family Advocacy social worker for 10 years. The primary mission of the Family Advocacy Program is to provide prevention and education, assessment and treatment for domestic violence and child abuse,” said Walker.

At Carlisle Barracks, her focus was on assessment and treatment. Walker came to work at DLA in 2011 as the manager of the Family Advocacy Program with the emphasis on education and prevention to address domestic violence and child abuse. She also became the sexual assault response coordinator, before the official standup of the SAPR program. 

“When I first started working for the military, the wars with Afghanistan and Iraq were just beginning. I had the privilege of assisting many families who were experiencing the hardships of deployment. I, along with my behavioral health co-workers were provided numerous opportunities to receive state of the art treatment modality training to ensure that we could provide the excellent services our warfighters and their families so deserved,” said Walker. 

Transitioning from working for the U.S. Army to DLA was a positive experience, noted Walker. “Although the missions of each installation are quite different, the focus on the warfighter was very much the common denominator.”

“Initially, this installation (Defense Distribution Center Susquehanna) had housing units, and the focus of Family Advocacy was mainly on serving the active duty populations. When housing closed in 2018, our focus shifted somewhat and we now focus on the installation community,” stated Walker, continuing, “We offer workshops and presentations designed to enhance the lives of all who work here. We offer online webinars so that anyone can access information at their own convenience. We continue to provide services to those who deploy via the DLA Expeditionary Logistics.”

“I think the key to my satisfaction, and it can be considered the same for all who work here, is to remain flexible. DLA, as with most places of employment these days, is in a constant state of change. Some changes are for the better, but may not appear to be so. The expression, ‘turning lemons into lemonade’ rings true for me. I have tried to use change as an opportunity to be creative and innovative. DLA is receptive to new ideas. I have been able to develop wonderful new options, such as the Wellness Room at the Fitness Center,” said Walker. 

Walker’s advice for those coming into federal service is basically the same as above. 
Also, try to remain open minded, flexible and adaptable. Keeping the focus on assisting the warfighter helps us to be more resilient regarding our own wants or needs.

“When I first came to DLA, I was replacing Rick Pedzwater, who was retiring as Family Advocacy Program manager. All I heard for the first several months of working here was, ‘You have some really big shoes to fill!’ Fortunately, I knew Rick very well from working with him in my position at Carlisle Barracks, and I felt the same way about him. He was a great mentor to me. I was able to train directly with him before he left. I hope that I will be able to leave the program in as good condition as he left it for me. I have also had wonderful supervisors, Karen Zinich and Jim Marshall. I would like to thank them for providing such a positive working environment for me and all who serve under them,” said Walker. 

Working as a military social worker has provided unprecedented professional opportunities for Walker. When she first started attending mandatory Family Advocacy Program training in San Antonio, Texas, she soon realized that she was receiving the best training in the world. “The guest speakers were the experts who wrote the books, who personally oversaw the scientific research studies which resulted in changes to national and international polices on issues such as child abuse and domestic violence. It was an incredible experience. To be able to take that knowledge and transfer it into my own social work practice was truly an honor,” she said.

In retirement, Walker will always reflect on working for DLA as something she is very proud of. “It is a huge organization, with thousands and thousands of employees. However, I always felt that my position was valued and the mission of my small agency was highly respected.”

“The highlight of my career with DLA would be the opportunities to collaborate with the various organizations on the installation, many of these fall under the support and management programs,” said Walker, adding, “It has been a pleasure to provide services to the Child and Youth Program, both in training caregivers and promoting healthy parenting practices among patrons. I would like to express enormous gratitude to police officers and dispatchers of DLA Emergency Services for their assistance in handling child abuse and domestic violence incidents. Office of Counsel has provided indispensable guidance in addressing complicated situations.”

While her time at DLA provided many good, positive memories, Walker mentioned she does have a favorite career highlight.

“My favorite highlight has been as a member of the Culture Climate Committee for DLA Installation Management Susquehanna. This has provided an opportunity to give back to all of those who go above and beyond for DLA. Most DLA employees come to work every day and expertly perform their duties, with no expectation of reward or recognition. It has been a great honor to serve with the men and women of DLA,” said Walker.