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NEWS | Aug. 22, 2022

Senior leaders present awards to DMA employees at Fort Pickett

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Retired Maj. Gen. Craig Crenshaw, the Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and retired Brig. Gen. Walt Mercer, Virginia Department of Military Affairs Chief Operations Officer, presented awards to DMA employees as part of a state employee recognition luncheon Aug. 11, 2022, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. 

During the presentation at the Fort Pickett Officers’ Club, DMA employees were recognized for both agency-level accomplishments as well as for service anniversaries. In addition to the agency awards and service recognitions, Elaina Schramm was awarded the Virginia Distinguished Service Medal for her years of service to the Guard while serving in both the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs as well as the Office of The Governor. 

The ceremony was the first fully in-person employee recognition event since the COVID-19 pandemic, making the event even more special. 

“You’ve done a number of tasks, and surely, as units come here and train, it’s a great effort to support that. You do it day in and day out,” said Crenshaw during the luncheon. “You come to work to make a difference. That difference is seen, it’s very relevant. I’d like to personally thank you.”

Since the last formal DMA recognition event, the state employees at Fort Pickett have supported a number of monumental tasks, including hosting thousands of Afghans during Operation Allies Welcome in 2021 and early 2022. 

“This is the largest group we’ve had to be able to assemble in two and a half years. A lot of water has gone under the bridge,” said Williams. “Probably the most recent was our part in taking care of our Afghan partners as they came here to the U.S. You did a herculean task there.”

“I’d like to take a moment to thank you for what you did in supporting our Afghan friends who came here. You kept them well until they were able to transition to another place. That was at the national level,” said Crenshaw. “There was a lot of visibility on how well you did it, and probably more important, how you made them feel. Because, quite often you will forget what someone says, but you never forget the way they make you feel. I am certain that when the Afghans left, they felt something as a result of your commitment that made a difference.”

In the last year, Pickett has also hosted thousands of Virginia National Guard Soldiers as they prepared to mobilize overseas. 

“Through the pandemic, you continued to support the forces that were preparing to deploy overseas,” said Williams. “Don’t ever underestimate what it took to do that. The fact we were able to push over 3,500 Soldiers to their mobilization station.”

Whether it is training Soldiers preparing to deploy overseas or hosting drill and annual training, to supporting the training for units from other states and services, Fort Pickett’s staff of state employees is working to make sure everything runs smoothly, explained Mercer. 

“Many of our National Guard service members don’t realize that for every functional area that allows the Guard to operate, there is a team of state civilian staff behind the scenes that make it all possible,” said Mercer. “From federal recognition boards, range and target maintenance, control of range safety and airspace to barracks maintenance, our billeting staff, fiscal and facilities operations, legislative support to the Guard, engineering, architectural, environmental, and physical security programs, and so much more, the state team keeps DMA and the Virginia National Guard running. 

“Without them we could not accomplish our federal or state missions.”

The following agency level awards were presented during the luncheon:

DMA STAR AWARD – Michelle Claiborne 


DMA CUSTOMER SERVICE – Patricia Saunders 





DMA TEAMWORK AWARD – MTC-DOL Billeting (William Arison, Ruth Coleman, Jessica Hardaway, Akira Jones, Mary Maddox, Sharon McComas, Sheila Price, Christal Spake, Catherine Stokes, Tawanda Tracy, and Lisa Wiliams)

The following state employees were recognized for notable service anniversaries, and presented with a keepsake to mark the occasion:

40 Years: Norman Jones

25 Years: Kenneth Oristaglio 

20 Years: Danny Clary, Cynthia Cundiff, James Falwell, Edwin Foster, Kevin Hendrix, Previn Melvin, Samuel Nunnelly 

15 Years: Joseph Bozo, Hope Broughman, Jeremy Depuy, Keith Hardaway, Jessica James, Elizabeth Nelson, Joshua Rifkind 

10 Years: James Bailey, Susan Corrigan, Stephanie Day, Derrick Hall, Haley Norton, Roy Oetting, Kathryn Overby, Kenneth Parrish, Robert Paulett, George Queen, Robert Riddle, Tanisha Roberts, Thomas Shell, Thomas Tanner, Samuel Wilfong

5 Years: Jennifer Beck, Marissa Buchanan, Houston Crayton, Stephanie Day, Christopher Ellet, Kyle Gee, Will Holman, Katherine Holte, Bryan Kester, Matthew Lynch, Anthony Markel, Curtis Marshall, Debra Putman, Toni Warren 

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