Proud to have served the USA

May 1, 2014

National Public Service Recognition Week (May 4-10) gives us an opportunity to focus for a just a moment on a very positive part of our government amid the continuing frustration of our acrimonious national political scene. While politicians seem locked in a perpetual war of words, federal and other public employees continue to serve us in hundreds of ways, seen and unseen.

As a retired federal employee I am proud to have served my country for four years in the Navy during the Vietnam War and then for 28 years working for Medicare and Medicaid. My job was helping frail elders and persons with disabilities receive health care at home under the Medicare and Medicaid home health and hospice programs.

When I retired and joined the Coastal Sussex Chapter of NARFE, the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, I was amazed at the variety of service my fellow retirees had performed for me and our country quietly over the years. There were, of course, Postal Letter Carriers, the most visible federal employees, who were out there every day delivering our mail. I met a national park ranger who we may have seen when on vacation keeping our parks safe and educating us about their wonders. But there were also the federal employees we seldom if ever see: Defense Department employees who kept our military supplied with everything they needed to protect us overseas, customs officers who patrolled our ports to keep us safe, FBI agents who kept the worst of crimes under control, Social Security computer specialists who made sure our elders were supported with the payments they were due. I’ve also met a bank examiner for the FDIC who protected our insured savings accounts and a foreign service officer who worked to keep our relationships with other countries friendly and peaceful.

I’ve met a Department of Agriculture scientist who developed more productive and disease resistant plants to feed us and even one of the first Navy Waves from World War II. Among this great variety of federal service retirees I have met here, there are a few commonalities. We all are very proud to have served the United States of America. We all love our country and are grateful for the unique opportunity we had to touch the lives of millions of people who never knew our names. We still enjoy opening every retiree meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and God Bless America. And we appreciate the work current federal employees and other public service employees do for us every day, regardless of the politics of the moment.

Bob Wardwell

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