When the workforce at Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support was under represented by minorities about 15 years ago, a pharmacist in the Medical supply chain was one of the first employees approached to help.
José Ramos began traveling with colleagues to his native Puerto Rico once a year to recruit university students. He spoke to local students about DLA’s warfighter support mission.
Ramos said he connected with local students through talking to them about growing up there, going to the University of Puerto Rico and serving in the Navy.
And if the students are qualified, apply and selected for a position at Troop Support, he helps them make the transition 1,600 miles away to Philadelphia.
His work to help increase the diversity of the workforce at DLA Troop Support helped him earn a 2016 National Image Meritorious Service Award. National Image, Inc. is a non-profit that promotes Hispanic employment in the federal government.
He received his National Image award Sept. 15 during a ceremony in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Ramos has been a pharmacist for 30 years, 20 as a Naval officer and 10 with DLA. He works in Medical’s Customer Pharmacy Operations Center, which supports 277 military treatment facilities and 9.2 million beneficiaries around the world.
Ramos was Ricardo Aguayo’s first supervisor in 2001 when Aguayo started working in Medical. But they met while Ramos was on a recruiting trip at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey, a few months after Aguayo graduated from there.
Aguayo and his wife had never lived outside of Puerto Rico before moving to Philadelphia.
During his transition, “Jose was my go-to person,” said Aguayo, who now works for the DLA Contracting Services Office in Philadelphia. “He made it easier because he was someone I could lean on for professional and personal advice.
“Things as simple as how to renew your driver’s license or where to go for grocery shopping ...,” Aguayo said, “José was always there to address those questions and concerns.”
Ramos helped Aguayo acclimate professionally too.
“As many recent graduates experience, it is hard to make the transition from books to work ... more so in the government,” Aguayo said.
But Aguayo made the adjustment with the help of Ramos’s business, managerial and pharmaceutical knowledge.
“Jose helped me grow and develop professionally under his leadership,” Aguayo said.
The goal of Troop Support’s minority recruiting efforts, in Puerto Rico and at historically black schools like Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, is to increase the pool of applicants for positions, said Ruben Filomeno, director of Troop Support’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity office.
Ramos has mentored more than 35 Hispanic employees at Troop Support, according to his award narrative. And the percentage of Hispanics working at Troop Support, 6.3, is greater than the percentage living in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, 4.6.
As a retired Navy commander, Ramos wants to ensure the best talent works at DLA to support the warfighter.
“I was in uniform and DLA was supporting me,” Ramos said. “And I want to ensure that support continues. To help these new employees is good for them, to make sure they’re going to do well. And it’s good for our mission here.”