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Erik Stewart discusses preparations for an upcoming higher-headquarters assessment with Ward Philips at Fort Riley, Kan., Nov. 6, 2009. Stewart was a soldier in Fort Riley's warrior transition battalion who transitioned to a civilian career with the Fort Riley garrison. U.S. Army photo by Alison Kohler[/caption] FORT RILEY, Kan. A former soldier who spent about 16 months in the warrior transition battalion here now looks forward to a rewarding career as an Army civilian.
Former Army Capt. Erik Stewart advises other warriors in transition not to rush the process."Make sure you're healthy and as whole as you can be," Stewart said. "It's all about your attitude. If you have a positive attitude and you work with the doctors, it goes well."Stewart, 38, from Wakefield, Kan., currently on leave, saw his Army career of more than 19 years officially end Nov. 18. He now has a promising future ahead of him working in the plans, mobilization, training and security directorate here as an emergency management specialist.Stewart uses his 15 years of experience as a military police officer and four years as an engineer in his new job. "There's some stuff I'm still learning, but the emergency management aspect of it, it works out," he said. The married father of four said he spent a lot of time looking before he landed the GS-12 civil service position. Learning to navigate the online civil service application process was tough, he acknowledged. "In the Army, you get orders [and] you show up,â€ he said. â€œYou don't have to bring your accomplishments with you. You don't have to worry about that in the military. That was stressful." His civilian job has him preparing emergency management plans and, if necessary, assisting in emergency response. Heâ€™s in charge of Fort Riley's Ready Army program, currently concentrating on the postâ€™s management of H1N1 flu. Though he misses the Armyâ€™s unit camaraderie, he said, working as a civilian has its advantages. "No more deployments, and no more alerts,â€ he said. â€œ[You] come home every weekend and every night.â€ Stewart was wounded by a roadside bomb in the tenth month of his third deployment. For a while, he tried to tough it out, he said. "I got to where I was trying to get in and out of a vehicle and I couldn't do it, and I was in pain all the time - my back, my groin, my head and my arm,â€ he said. â€œI was having trouble holding on to my rifle, and I couldn't wear my gear without my back or my groin hurting. I was having trouble concentrating." He was sent here through the Armyâ€™s regional medical center at Landstuhl, Germany, and was assigned to the warrior transition battalion. "[I was] scared at first, because I've been doing this since high school,â€ he said. â€œWhen I first got there, I was just going to appointments, and that was OK at first, because I had been gone for like 39 months with deployment, home, deployment, home. Then I realized I was bored; I needed to find something to do." He tried to take college classes, but ended up having to withdraw three times, he said, because he couldn't focus and study. Stewart completed an unpaid internship with a nature center and looked into a welding program at a technical college. His wife mentioned looking for a job on Fort Riley, so he began to learn about applying for civil service positions. Though he expected a long wait after he interviewed for his current position, he said, he was selected the following day, and he has been on the civilian payroll since September. He advises other warriors in transition to make a plan, including financial plans, for what they need to have and where they will be in three months and in five years. "They can't just [say], 'I'm going to get out and live at my folks' houseâ€™, or â€˜I'm going to move home,'â€ he said. That's not a plan." But before they make plans for life after the Army, Stewart said, soldiers should first get all the help they need. "Don't get out just to get away from it all," he advised. Most importantly, he added, warriors in transition need to take a step back when everything seems overwhelming. "It's easy to get caught up in 'Woe is me,' and it's easy to go to the dark, depressed place,â€ he said. â€œTake a big problem and break it down. It's like a wall, but if you take it down a brick at a time, eventually the wall's gone." (Alison Kohler works in the Irwin Army Community Hospital public affairs office at Fort Riley.) Nov. 24, 2009: By Alison Kohler: Special to American Forces Press Service ***SOT***
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Pamela Day, who retired Nov. 19 after 38 years of civilian service with the military, most recently as director of Depot-Level Reparable Procurement Operations for Defense Logistics Agency Ogden, speaks to family, friends and co-workers during her retirement ceremony at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Air Force photo by James Arrowood[/caption] HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah â€“ There's a pair of shoes at Utahâ€™s Hill Air Force Base that will be hard to fill. They once belonged to Pamela Day, who retired last week after 38 years of federal service.
Day, who most recently served as director of depot-level reparable procurement operations for Defense Logistics Agency-Ogden, was recognized during a Nov. 19 retirement ceremony at Hill Aerospace Museum.â€œFinding a professional contracting manager who is Pamâ€™s equal in federal government will be difficult, to say the least,â€ said Yvette Burke, acquisition executive for DLAâ€™s aviation demand and supply chain, Defense Supply Center Richmond, Va. DLA Ogden is the forward arm of the Richmond supply center at Hill. â€œHer knowledge, experience, dedication and enthusiastic approach have been invaluable assets throughout her career, and they have been of immeasurable benefit to the warfighters she dedicated her life to supporting.â€Burke praised Day for her leadership and willingness to take on challenging missions and accomplish them based on her understanding and steadfast support of Americaâ€™s military men and women. â€œAfter all, the first breath Pam ever took in this world was on a military installation,â€ Burke said, noting that Day was born at Alameda Naval Station in California while her father served in the Navy. â€œBut at heart, Pam is a Utah girl through and throughâ€”she was raised in Clinton, graduated from Clearfield High School, and earned her undergraduate degree from Weber State and Park College.â€ Day began working for the federal government as a supply clerk at the Bureau of Reclamation in 1971 and later became a purchasing agent. Recalling that first job and her subsequent Air Force career, Day said, â€œI learned that it takes longer to process an environmental statement than it does to complete a source selection â€“ amazing.â€ In 1976, Day entered the contracting field and began working for the Air Force at Hill, where she has been ever since. She has served in a variety of positions, including contract negotiator; contracting officer; chief of the commodities, services and construction branches in operational contracting; chief of the aircraft contracting division; and as chief of contracting for the aircraft and commodities sustainment wings. Day distinguished herself on numerous successful department programs, including her work on the Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirements contract â€“ a pilot program â€“ and the $450 million, multiple-award Remedial Action Contract program. She was an instrumental leader in the A-76 Consolidated Study involving 1,200 full-time employees at Ogden Air Logistics Center. Day played a key role in the $13 billion F-16 Sustainment Contract, managed the first strategic sourcing contract at Hill, and supervised the Decentralized Design Engineering Support Contract â€“ a complex multiple-award contract with involvement from multiple Air Force sites. â€œPam was a key player in the $1.2 billion Secondary Power Logistics Solution, Hill Air Force Baseâ€™s first performance-based logistics contract,â€ Burke said. â€œAnd, most recently, Pam was actively involved in and supervised the administration of the incredibly innovative $1.5 billion Landing Gear Prime Vendor Contract, an enterprise solution used by both DLA and the Air Force to support the worldwide sustainment of landing gear.â€ Day was hard pressed to pick a favorite assignment, but said she enjoyed working construction and environmental contracts. â€œF-16 [Sustainment Contract] was at the top of my list. I love being challenged, but also being able to see something from beginning to a successful end,â€ she said. Day played a key role in the standup of DLA Ogden, which came out of 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law calling for the transfer of supply, storage and distribution and depot-level reparable procurement operations from the military services to DLA. â€œDLA Ogden was activated with minimal difficulty and without impact to customers or employees. The standup went off without a hitch thanks in large part to her management and procurement expertise,â€ Burke said. Under Dayâ€™s leadership, Burke said, the organization has shown exemplary performance through its 17 months of operations â€“ including two successful year-end closeouts. â€œHer keen oversight of Ogden DLR operations resulted in continuous improvements in procurement lead times and overall strategic performance â€“ one of the primary visions of BRAC,â€ Burke said. Day worked closely with the Air Force to combine procurement efforts, find more savings for the taxpayers and improve DLA performance to keep warfighters flying â€“ and landing â€“ safely. That sentiment was echoed by Air Force Maj. Gen. Andrew Busch, Ogden Air Logistics Center commander. â€œThe Air Force and DLA could not have successfully transferred the DLR procurement functions as part of BRAC without Pam's engaged leadership,â€ Busch said. â€œOgden was the first of the five DLR procurement sites that Ms. Burke transferred to the aviation demand and supply chain, and Pam's willingness to partner with DLA and work through tough issues was the foundation for the sustained success of the transfer process.â€ Busch was commander of Defense Supply Center Richmond when Day joined the DLA team, but he knew about her reputation of excellence long before that. â€œPam is widely respected within the Air Force and brought with her a huge amount of credibility that was needed to convince the Ogden team that DLA was a trustworthy partner on this BRAC challenge,â€ Busch said. In the course of her career, Day was named Air Force Materiel Commandâ€™s Contingency Contracting Officer of the Year, AFMC Professional Contracting Officer of the Year, Ogden ALC Manager of the Year, Ogden ALC Civilian of the Quarter and Civilian of the Year, and earned the Spirit of the American Woman Professional Award. During her retirement ceremony, Day was able to add some final awards to the list. Busch presented Day with the Air Force's Outstanding Civilian Career Service Award; Burke presented her with the DLA Distinguished Career Service Award, a Silver Letter from the DLA director, Navy Vice Adm. Alan Thompson, and the Aviation Demand and Supply Chain Commander's Plaque. Despite her success, Day was humble when it came to taking credit for her accomplishments. â€œThe job isnâ€™t about me â€“ itâ€™s about the mission, and if that isnâ€™t your focus, youâ€™ll make decisions for the wrong reasons, which could lead to poor results. Fortunately, I learned that really early in my career,â€ she said. (Debra R. Bingham works for Defense Supply Center-Richmond public affairs.) Nov. 23, 2009: By Debra R. Bingham: Special to American Forces Press Service ***SOT***