VA Secretary’s Honor Award for I CARE
The Secretary’s Honor Award for I CARE recognizes exemplary employees who have demonstrated sustained performance or a specific act of noteworthy nature relative to the Department’s core values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence (I CARE). Acts potentially warranting recognition include going above and beyond normal practice in their role to care for and serve our Nation’s Veterans, their families, caregivers, survivors, or fellow employees.
The Veterans Health Administration recipient is Gary Carlson, Suicide Prevention Coordinator at South Hillsborough (Riverview) Community Based Outpatient Clinic, VA Tampa Health Care System. Mr. Carlson has demonstrated outstanding and sustained performance since assuming his position as Suicide Prevention Coordinator. His nomination for the Secretary Honor Award for I CARE was prompted by an act of heroism that occurred in June 2021, where he helped save a Veteran’s life.
Pictured (left to right): VA Secretary Denis McDonough, Gary Carlson and Dr. Shereef Elnahal, Under Secretary for Health
The Veterans Benefits Administration recipient is the Office of Financial Management (OFM) Benefits Delivery Protection and Remediation (BDP&R) Team. The BDP&R team continuously searches for new and improved methods to protect Veterans, their families, and survivors, who are often targets of fraud. The team’s results-driven, mission-focused approach prompted additional security features and notification to help prevent fraud, and recent fraud monitoring efforts led to safeguarding $214,910 in VA benefits for 128 Veterans. Linda Rutland accepted the Secretary’s Honors Award for I CARE on behalf of the OFM BDP&R team.
Pictured (left to right): VA Secretary Denis McDonough, Linda Rutland and Joshua Jacobs, Senior Advisor for Policy Performing the Delegable Duties of the Under Secretary for Benefits.
The National Cemetery Administration recipient is Jaime Salome, Assistant Director, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery Complex. Mr. Jaime Salome was instrumental in the largest-ever expansion of the cemetery complex, allowing VA to meet the burial needs of more than 1.6 million Veterans in the San Diego area. His commitment to coworkers and Veterans has never wavered, and he works closely with VA staff, local Veterans Service Organizations, and the funeral home industry to provide a dignified burial for every Veteran. He has handled more than 3,000 Veteran burials and ensures the cemetery’s more than 135,000 gravesites are maintained to national shrine standards.
Pictured (left to right): VA Secretary Denis McDonough, Jaime Salome and Matthew Quinn, Under Secretary for NCA Memorial Affairs.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals recipients are Veterans Law Judge Steven Reiss, Karissa Wallin, Robert Leal, Salvador Ambriz, Sujen Diviney, and Corey Benjamin. The nomination is based on outstanding acts of service and commitment to serving Veterans, their families, and survivors, including exceptional service to a terminally ill 91-year-old widow of a Korean Conflict Veteran. These employees worked together to expedite the process and ensure this deserving surviving spouse received her benefits in less than two weeks after the hearing.
Pictured (left to right): VA Secretary Denis McDonough, Veterans Law Judge Steven Reiss, Karissa Wallin, Corey Benjamin and Kenneth Arnold, Acting BVA Chairman.
The VA Voluntary Service Volunteer In-Home Visitor Program (VIVP) Coordinators received the 2020 Secretary’s ICARE Honor Award (team). Following the onset of Covid-19, the coordinators worked together to develop, implement and promote a new virtual volunteer program, Compassionate Contact Corps, that provided a valuable service towards the well-being for many of the most vulnerable and high risk (i.e. lonely and socially isolated) Veterans and their caregivers. Read more »