News | Sept. 28, 2020

Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Martha Kerns

DLA Disposition Services Public Affairs

Editor's Note: The Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month Sept.15 - Oct. 15. In honor of Hispanics' contributions to the agency's global mission, DLA is highlighting Hispanic Americans who work daily to provide logistics support to America's warfighters and other federal customers.

Martha N. Kerns

Sport and Fitness Facility Manager
Battle Creek, Michigan

Martha Kerns near a poster at a conference
Martha Kerns is Morale Welfare and Recreation's sports and fitness facility manager at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Martha Kerns near a poster at a conference
Martha Kerns
Martha Kerns is Morale Welfare and Recreation's sports and fitness facility manager at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Photo By: Courtesy Photo
VIRIN: 200924-D-D0441-500
You mentioned that in the Hispanic culture, most people have two last names. Can you explain why?
Hispanics use two last names to recognize their heritage. The first one is from their father’s side and the second one is from the mother. In the U.S. this is often referred to as the maiden name. When you get married, the husband’s name remains the same. The wife usually changes her name, keeping her father’s name, but changing the second one to that of her husband.

What is your family name? Martha Nelia Miranda Saenz

How long have you worked for the federal government including military service? I started working for Morale, Welfare and Recreation December 2009.

How long have you worked for DLA Disposition Services? 10 years, 10 months

Describe your job in a sentence or two. I provide an environment suitable to allow employees to reach there overall wellness goals. We offer recreation sports promoting teamwork, camaraderie and resiliency.

What is your favorite thing about your line of work? My favorite thing is meeting and helping employees, retirees and their families reach their fitness goals, prepare to deploy or specific event.

What are your best memories of working here? Helping clients start their fitness goals are among my best memories. One particular person started as a couch potato and worked up to the 5k program about 4 years ago and is now running marathons, after each run I asked him to bring his medal and we review how much his time has improved.

In the first five years, 2009-2014, working at the fitness center I was a group fitness instructor, instructing about nine classes a week and training clients for their first 5K walks then 5K runs, 10K runs and ran a half marathon.

In 2014-2015, DLA Director Navy Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek came to the site I had the privilege of receiving his coin as recognition for coordinating the 9/11 program. One of my trainees stood up and proceeded to inform the director of how much he appreciated the support to reaching his fitness goal he lost over 30 lbs. and was ready to deploy.

I also enjoy seeing retirees continue to work out even after they have been retired for 25-30 years.

Why is it important to you that we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? The U.S.A. is a melting pot of many cultures, immigrants from all over the world have found freedom to reach the American dream with hard work and perseverance. Hispanic Heritage Month help us remember our culture, where we came from and teach others about it.

What is one thing you’d like others to know about your heritage? We are friendly, sincere, smart, hardworking, respectful and resilient. We love a good cookout with friends, family, music and dance.

How do you make a difference? Helping other is my privilege and passion. I have the support of two passionate personal trainers, Christopher Chisholm and Daniel Roberts, as part of the fitness center staff. As a team we make a difference one mile and one pound at the time.