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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Secretary Denis R. McDonough

Best Places to Work Awards Breakfast
Washington, DC
July 13, 2022

Thank you, Max [Stier], for that kind introduction, and for your leadership of the Partnership for Public Service.

On behalf of all VA, thank you for these awards [top 5 of best places to work among large agencies, and most improved among large agencies].

This is VA’s first time ever in the top five of the Best Places to Work rankings, and I couldn’t be more proud of the great public servants of VA who made it happen.

Now, I’ll be quick in my remarks here so we can get to the rest of breakfast.

Really, I just want to talk directly to the people who actually earned these honors: every employee, every manager, every public servant at VA.

The work that VA employees have done over the past couple years is nothing short of heroic. And the same goes for all of the great public servants represented here today from across the federal government.

This pandemic has been the time when Veterans—and all Americans—have needed you most.

Vets and non-Vets alike have been grieving, losing loved ones, and fearing for their own lives they’ve been simultaneously juggling jobs, illnesses, financial hardship, and children staying home-from-school and in this time of darkness, they’ve turned to you.

They’ve relied on you.

And—despite the fact that you’ve dealt with everything that they’ve dealt with—you’ve stepped up for them and delivered.

You’ve stepped up for the country, and delivered—no matter the circumstances, no matter the risks.

And there have been many risks.

At VA, our employees have repeatedly exposed themselves to COVID, slept overnight in hospitals, worked long hours at our national cemeteries and regional benefits offices, and left their own families to travel to the hardest hit places in the country...

in fact, hundreds of VA employees have given their own lives ...  

all to save or improve the lives of the Veterans we serve.

And I know that the other federal employees represented here today have done similarly perilous, life-saving work.

Simply put, it’s no exaggeration to say that VA employees—and all federal employees—have been the backbone of this country during the pandemic.

You could have easily left public service and focused on your own lives, or your own families, during this trying time—but you didn’t.

You stayed right where you are, you stayed engaged, and you served.

You did the hard thing, not the easy thing.

And for that, we are all—every one of us—forever in your debt.

So, yes, I’m proud to receive these honors on behalf of VA—and to share in them with so many agencies from across the federal government.

But the reality is that it’s not me who earned these awards—it’s VA’s great public servants who earned them ...   

both for making VA a fantastic place to work, and for delivering world-class care and benefits to Veterans every single day during the pandemic.

So, in accepting these honors today, I also want to make a promise to the employees who earned them: I promise to do everything in my power to serve you as well as you’ve served us.

Because the best public servants in America deserve the very best places to work, and we will never—never—settle for giving you anything less.

Congratulations to all!


On behalf of VA, thank you again for this recognition—and thank you to VA’s amazing public servants for making us worthy of it.