Commentary: DORRA employees embrace resiliency

By Jeanie Parrish, Chief, DORRA Distribution Operations Research Team

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Resiliency is one of those things that we work at every day on our own and with the encouragement of others. September is Defense Logistics Agency’s Resiliency Month, and Sep. 7 was celebrated as Resiliency Day across the agency. It was a time set aside to provide employees an opportunity to accentuate their actions to maintain and improve resiliency in their lives. 

Employees in DLA’s Office of Operations Research and Resource Analysis, or DORRA, embrace resiliency wholeheartedly.

The DORRA workforce participated in Resiliency Day with several invitational events geared toward physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being.  They started off the day with a 30-minute brisk, morning walk on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.  Along the way, they viewed the herd of elk having breakfast, listened to several species of birds singing out along the creek, and took in the fresh air.  It was a great way to start the day.

After coming back to their desks, the team was given the opportunity to take a Learning Management Systems on-line training course entitled, “Optimizing Your Work/Life Balance: Taking Control of Your Stress.” This one-hour course provided insightful techniques to reduce stress ranging from deep breathing and meditation steps, to changing your way of thinking before reacting to different situations.  It is wonderful to have this information at our fingertips.

A social event was held in the afternoon where employees gathered, shared healthy snacks and viewed a documentary entitled “Touching the Void,” about two mountain climbers who overcame a traumatic life-threatening event.  It always puts our own challenges into perspective when we view someone’s situation as worse than our own.  It was a real motivator to see how they got through their situation and a great resiliency documentary. 

We had a great day celebrating resiliency and plan to do more resiliency events in the future.

But, Resiliency Day is not the only day we emphasize our resiliency.  Every day, resiliency remains a priority. DORRA employees pride themselves on being resilient.  After all, customers come to us to solve the toughest of analytic challenges and we do.  Our analytic process allows us to define the requirement with the collaboration of those impacted, go research the potential issues, and develop methodologies that will offer the best recommendations for solutions.  It is just our way of getting the job done for the customer.

Our personal core values are also our professional cores values:  collaboration, capability and commitment.  These three C’s help drive us to being better human beings. We are a very thankful group of people.  We ask for blessings and we acknowledge every one of them, including each other.

Collaboration is key to resiliency!  DORRA employees share experiences about sports, family, personal interests, and other work experiences that expand our understanding and appreciation for each other. This not only helps us work better together, but also allows us to know when our colleagues need support.

There are a number of actions we take either individually or as an organization to ensure we are routinely, actively participating in social, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.  

Many DORRA employees participate in the DLA authorized fitness hour three times per week at the installation’s gym, pool, or fitness trails. Others participate in other physical activities like walking, running and hiking.  Others are involved in many competitive sports to include ballroom dancing, kickboxing, running marathons and playing volleyball.

We have also started to embrace a new way of working.   We have employees who have the stand-up work stations and they are loving it.  Duncan Hardcastle, DORRA senior operations research analyst said,” “I got a "sit / stand" work station to maintain my mental alertness by standing and to burn calories to improve my health.”

Nutrition is also important DORRA employees.  We do like to eat and strive to improve healthy nutrition.  Several of our employees have bought specialized blenders and are sharing recipes for veggie and fruit smoothies.  A favorite has kale, spinach, pineapple, mango, and banana.  It doesn’t look good to the eye, but it tastes great! 

Hobbies and sharing expertise help employees both socially and in exercising their creativity.   During periodic lunch breaks, some employees spend time with each other teaching skills and having relaxing conversations about hobbies. Their volunteer efforts to give back to their communities and their families.  For example, David Clement, DORRA senior operations research analyst, prides himself in writing poetry.  He shared this one about DORRA: “We are the analysts of DLA, No problem too tough we say, Challenge our intellectual brilliancy, Together with grit and resiliency, Our solutions light the DLA way.”  A great resiliency poem! 

We find every reason to celebrate.  Each month, Kenneth Mitchell, the DORRA Director hosts a birthday celebration for everyone’s birthday that falls in that specific month.  This is a way to celebrate life in general and a reason for everyone to come together.  People bring in various food dishes and share them across teams routinely.  Some teams host lunches for pizza and tacos just to stir the camaraderie.  Team chiefs also get together for lunch with their employees and their peers. 

We also hold several formal events throughout the year to foster resiliency including summer picnics both on and off the installation; holiday luncheons that involve a gift exchange, games, and much laughter; fall harvests with costumes and food; and we also participate in many of the DLA installation events on DSCR to include diversity, health and safety, Family Morale, Welfare, and Recreation sponsored events, and leadership events.

Yes, we are resilient because it is a priority.   Clement summed it all up when he said, “This resiliency priority is key in being able to cope and stay well. We each find ways to spring back when life gets tough. Having more than one outlet works best because life throws more than one kind of pitch.”