September 19, 2011 - WASHINGTON - A Vietnam Veteran whose career has focused on helping war Veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) community Vet Centers around the country and a VA chief financial officer who led the agency to streamline operations and reduce costs are among nine federal officials being honored with Service to America Medals. For the 10th year, the non-profit Partnership for Public Service has named outstanding public servants who are making high-impact contributions.
W. Todd Grams, VA chief financial officer and executive in charge of management, received the Management Excellence Medal for his success in improving financial management, resulting in redirection of funds to improve services to Veterans. He led a team that created VA's first department-wide capital planning program and established an integrated governance structure for business functions, including procurement, personnel and information technology. This led to a streamlined process for hiring acquisition staff, implementing a self-service employee benefit portal and training more than 5,000 employees in financial management. With Grams' leadership, VA eliminated long-standing material weaknesses in financial management and reduced the risk of fraud and abuse in its $14 billion purchasing program.
For nearly 30 years, Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., has worked with VA's community-based readjustment counseling Vet Centers, starting in the field offices and heading the national program since 1994. Under his leadership, the Centers have increased from about 200 six years ago to 300 to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of combat Veterans and their families. He launched 50 mobile Centers, four of which were used after the mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 to provide counseling to 8,000 active duty military and family members. Batres developed family bereavement services for those who lost loved ones on active duty, provided family therapists at each center, and set up a national call-in service for combat Veterans or family members to talk to another combat Veteran about readjustment issues.
"Al Batres and Todd Grams have contributed tremendously to the well-being of America's Veterans and all its citizens because of their passion for excellence in accomplishing their missions," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "I'm pleased to see them get this much deserved recognition."
Winners of the awards, referred to as the "Sammies," are nominated by colleagues and selected by a committee of nearly 20 leaders in government, academia, the private sector, news media and philanthropy. The Partnership for Public Service received more than 400 nominations for medal consideration this year.
The Partnership works to revitalize the federal government by inspiring new generations to enter public service and transforming the way government works. Visit www.ourpublicservice.org for more information.
Source: VA Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs