Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Kaufman Recognizes Delaware Veteran on Senate Floor

November 10, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Continuing his weekly tradition of honoring federal employees on the Senate floor, today, in honor of Veterans Day tomorrow, U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) praised Command Sgt. Major Gregory Symes for his extraordinary service in the Delaware National Guard.

Symes, of New Castle, Del., is a full-time federal technician for the Delaware Army National Guard and recently completed a year of active duty service with the 261st Signal Brigade. He has received the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Non-commissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, among others.

“Gregory continues to serve with dedication and distinction in his federal role with the Guard, staying at the forefront of ever-changing telecommunications technology,” Sen. Kaufman said. “For Gregory and all of the other veterans and National Guard members who work as federal employees, sacrifice and service are a life’s pursuit.”

A graduate of John Dickinson High School in Wilmington, Symes trained as an automotive mechanic.  While he began his federal employment as an automotive technician for the Delaware Army National Guard in New Castle, he studied telecommunications and, in 2001, became a Telecommunication Specialist for the Delaware Guard’s Director of Information Management.

“This recognition is quite an honor for me and my family.  I wish it could be extended to the entire 261st Signal Brigade and everyone in the Delaware National Guard,” Symes said. “It is my privilege to serve with some of the most patriotic, dedicated, and professional soldiers in the world and I am just one member of that team.”

According to a 2006 study by the Office of Personnel Management, one out of every four civilian federal employees is also a military veteran.  Moreover, a fifth of these are disabled veterans.

Sen. Kaufman has honored 34 "Great Federal Employees" on the Senate floor since May, thanking them for their hard work and dedication to serving the American people. Hailed as the "Senate's Champion of Civil Service" by the Washington Post, Sen. Kaufman - a federal employee himself for 22 years - plans to continue sharing stories of their important accomplishments throughout his term.

Please visit http://kaufman.senate.gov/great_feds/honoree/?id=df618d5d-5056-9502-5d66-d715ccadeebb, for more information.

Full text of the statement below:

 

Ninety years ago this Wednesday, President Wilson signed a proclamation marking the first anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. 

At the time, many believed that the cruelty experienced by the combatants and civilian victims of that war would never be surpassed.  Unfortunately, as we learned later, they were mistaken.  But it was the tragedy of that conflict and harrowing stories brought back from the trenches that led to the establishment of a day honoring America’s veterans. 

Veterans Day provides a moment of pause to remember the sacrifices made by those who wore our Nation’s uniform. 

Mr. President, it also presents an opportunity to reflect on the dual nature of our federal government. 

When average Americans hear “federal employees,” they usually think of the 1.8 million civilian government employees.  However, it is all too often forgotten that the 1.4 million men and women serving in uniform are also federal employees. 

Our federal workforce has two legs – the civilian and the military. But they march together in step, because we depend on both, and they depend on one another. 

Without the military we could not remain free and secure.  Without the civilian federal workforce we could not keep America on the path toward prosperity and the continued pursuit of happiness. 

Civilian federal employees work closely with the military, not only to craft strategies and policies but also to pay, arm, and care for our troops. 

While some choose to serve in uniform and others in civilian roles, there are, Mr. President, many who do both. 

According to a 2006 study by the Office of Personnel Management, one out of every four civilian federal employees is also a military veteran.  Moreover, a fifth of these are disabled veterans. 

And that is just in the executive branch – this number doesn’t even include those who currently serve in the National Guard or the many veterans working right here on Capitol Hill and in the federal judiciary.  

They work in nearly every department and agency.  Not surprisingly, some of the agencies with the highest percentages of veterans are those that relate to law enforcement.  The Pentagon too employs many veterans, as does the Department of Homeland Security.  Almost half of the civilian employees of the Veterans Benefits Administration are veterans themselves. 

However, many Americans do not realize that roughly one of every three employees at the Department of Transportation is a veteran.  The same is true of the Mine Safety and Health Administration at the Department of Labor. 

Mr. President, over a third of those working at the U.S. Mint are veterans.  I bet most Americans would also be surprised to learn that veterans make up a quarter of those who work at the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art.

It would take me a long time to read through all the departments and agencies with large numbers of veterans on staff, so I will spare my colleagues.  But the point I empha is that so many of our federal employees share a tradition of national service that began in the military. 

Today, I wish to continue my weekly tradition of recognizing an outstanding federal employee by sharing the story of a man from my home state of Delaware.  Not only does he work full time as a federal technician for the Delaware National Guard, but he also recently completed a year of active duty service. 

Command Sergeant Major Gregory Symes had already served in the Delaware Army National Guard for seven years when he started working as a federal technician for the Guard in 1989. 

A graduate of John Dickinson High School in Wilmington, Gregory trained as an automotive mechanic.  While he began his federal employment as an automotive technician for the Delaware Army National Guard in New Castle, he studied telecommunications and, in 2001, became a Telecommunication Specialist for the Delaware Guard’s Director of Information Management. 

Gregory has served as a mentor to those working alongside him, and he has risen to become the senior enlisted advisor to the battalion commander for the 722nd Troop Command.  In this capacity, he is often given the task of looking after the well-being of other soldiers in the battalion. 

Last month, Gregory completed a one-year deployment on active duty with the 261st Signal Brigade, and he was stationed at Fort Bliss, New Mexico, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Decorated for his service, Gregory has received the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Non-commissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, among others. 

He continues to serve with dedication and distinction in his federal role with the Guard, staying at the forefront of ever-changing telecommunications technology. 

For Gregory and all of the other veterans and National Guard members who work as federal employees, sacrifice and service are a life’s pursuit. 

They are a constant reminder of why Veterans Day is so important. 

While on Memorial Day we remember those who never made it home; on Veterans Day, we rededicate ourselves to the task of caring for those who did. 

Care and gratitude for our veterans remains a sacred responsibility, and one that was as relevant to those who fought at Bunker Hill as it is to those stationed in Baghdad today. 

George Washington once said:  “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country.”

I hope all Americans will take the opportunity this week to express their appreciation to all of our veterans, especially those who continue to serve the public as federal employees. 

I invite my colleagues to join me in thanking Command Sergeant Major Gregory Symes, the federal employees of the Delaware Army National Guard, and all who have served our Nation in uniform. 

They continue to make us all proud. 

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