News | Sept. 27, 2016

Field rep uses ‘melon’ to provide DLA customers with fresh produce

By Alex Siemiatkowski and Michael Tuttle DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

Joseph Miler once held the largest watermelon record at the Kentucky State Fair. That was in 1986 and the watermelon he grew was 155 pounds, a record that stood for nearly 20 years.

But Miller doesn’t use his produce expertise just to set records. He also uses it to support the warfighter and other Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support customers as a field representative for the Subsistence supply chain.

Subsistence field reps live and work throughout the United States. Miller works with military customers in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He helps provide them with produce, dairy items, bread and more.

“Getting to help our warfighters is great,” said Miller. “I have always made sure that I take my experience of produce to be able to buy the best product for our military.”

Miller resolves customers’ problems, helps them order and ensures deliveries are made on time.

“I kind of am a trouble shooter,” Miller said. “If we have any problems that arise from any of our military bases, I am usually the one that goes out and looks at it.”

He also works with Native American tribes and schools in those states who order produce through the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program.

The start of the school year was a busy time for Miller. Several schools in Minnesota are new customers in the DOD Fresh program and Miller worked with them to ensure they’re able to order produce through the system.

“We have a lot of new schools that come onboard, a lot of new districts and a lot of personnel changes,” he said. “So it is real hectic in the beginning to try to get the new schools added.”

Patricia Scott, the chief of garrison feeding in Subsistence, has known Miller since he started with DLA 21 years ago.

“He is a pleasure to work with and is very knowledgeable about fresh fruits and vegetables,” Scott said. “He is a Subsistence guru top to bottom.”

Miller’s Subsistence expertise includes studying agriculture at the University of Kentucky. He grew up on a farm and three generations of his family have grown watermelons. And he still has his sights on that watermelon record.

“My goal now is get one to 200 pounds,” he said.