Agency designates day to promote resilience

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

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The Defense Logistics Agency sponsored its first Resiliency Day, emphasizing the theme, “Resiliency in Action” at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Sept. 7.

Events included presentations and exhibits with agency personnel promoting agency safety, fitness and wellness programs, including the DLA Employee Assistance Program. 

DLA Chief of Staff Renee Roman provided opening remarks on behalf of DLA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch.

“You notice in your brochure that the director was going to be the guest speaker this afternoon,” she said. “Unfortunately, he has fallen ill, so under the guise of being resilient, I said, ‘yes, I can [speak]!’”

Roman said she appreciated the opportunity to address the workforce about celebrating and talk about resiliency. 

“You hear us talk about how people are our most important resource. There are not necessarily a lot of programs that you can directly see that we mean it,” she said. “Resiliency is one of those programs where we really try to communicate that we mean it.”

Roman talked about how employees’ professional and personal lives overlap and affect each other.

“We also recognize that the world is changing – it is much more complex, it is much more dynamic,” she said. “And to bring that into the microcosm of work and all the things that we’re dealing with, your ability to be resilient and our responsibility to help fortify that resilience is really an important thing.”

Roman said DLA leaders are encouraged by the number of employees who completed the climate culture survey and indicated they understood the concept of resiliency.

“Even more impressive, 83 percent of our population said that they believe that they already were resilient; that they had some level of resiliency,” she said. “What was a little more dismaying is that only about 53 percent felt that they had the resources they needed to further bolster their resilience.”

Roman said it’s because of this response that the agency has focused on events like Resiliency Day to bring awareness of agency programs and to gather ideas from the DLA workforce on how leadership can further support employees’ resiliency goals.

Roman also referred the audience to the resiliency website and the recent videos highlighting DLA employees’ stories of resilience.

“These resiliency videos are two- to three-minute snippets in which you’re hearing from your peers and colleagues how resiliency has played out in their lives,” she said. “There are some pretty powerful stories of people dealing with everyday challenges and how they were able to fortify themselves and be resilient.”

Roman introduced the guest speaker, Michelle Millben, who works at the White House, has a law degree and a bachelor’s degree in music and has performed with many prestigious musicians over the years. 

Millben expressed her belief that we already have within ourselves the tools we need to be resilient – courage, integrity and the ability to overcome obstacles.

“I’m here to talk less about why resiliency is important and more about why you’re important,” she said. “People are required for you to be resilient – there’s no way possible that any person in isolation will find the courage to champion resiliency – we all need each other.”

Millben described her upbringing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma as one of poverty, discipline, education and spirituality. She said she often rebelled against the ideas and values her mother, as a single parent, advocated among Millben and her siblings. 

“All I wanted to do was become famous,” she said. “I knew for a fact I did not want to be poor when I grew up. I did not want to worry about money, transportation or clothes.”

Millben said her goal was to attend college, move to a larger city and make money. Although she received an academic scholarship, it only covered part of her expenses, so she applied for and received a music scholarship to complete her college education.

Millben said she was in Los Angeles doing missions work with her church when she experienced a pivotal moment in her life. One of the young men her group was working with was arrested and sentenced to prison.

“I was angry and I said, ‘how do you change this?’ and the social worker said, ‘you’ve got to change the law,’” Millben said. 

Millben said she decided to study law, but within three months of law school, she discovered her passion was public service.

“Resilient people always have the ability to maintain their focus, but usually, it’s not on themselves,” she said. “I have this phrase that I use with the young people I mentor in my current church – I tell them to ‘turn off self and turn on service.’”  

Millben encouraged the audience to think about their own lives and realize that in order to be resilient, they have to understand reliance; that someone is relying on them. 

“Everything you do every single day impacts the lives of every person in this country,” she said. “That’s what it means to turn off self and turn on service.”

Millben said other tenets of resiliency are tenacity in the face of obstacles and remaining “strategically optimistic.”

“I don’t think there’s anybody who, when faced with adversity or hard times can just conjure up joy or hope,” she said. “It’s got to be something you strategically employ.”

Millben said part of the strategy she uses is the acronym FOCUS.

“‘F’ stands for friends, ‘O’ stands for organized, ‘C’ stands for control center, ‘U’ stands for understanding and ‘S’ stands for service,” she said. “You have to understand the drive for balance in your life.”

Finally, Millben said in the darkest times are where most people find their greatest strengths. 

“There’s a song my grandmother used to sing, “Trouble Don’t Last Always,” and I just want to encourage you that ‘trouble don’t last always,’” she said. “And those feelings of wanting to grow in your career or achieve something in your personal life … don’t worry, don’t give up.” 

Employees can 
visit the DLA Resiliency home page and view the Profiles in Resiliency video playlist below. To view other videos in the playlist, select the icon with three horizontal lines in the upper left corner of the video.