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BLM Publishes Special Veteran's Day Edition of Internal Employee Blog, the BLM Daily


Bureau: Bureau of Land Management

Today, Nov. 12, 2013, the Bureau of Land Management is running a special Veteran’s Day edition of the BLM Daily, the bureau’s daily internal blog for employees. Rather than the standard three stories a day, the BLM Daily today features nine stories of service, family and pride from across the organization as a way to thank and honor BLM employees who are veterans, active-duty military and military family members.

A snapshot of those stories is included below.

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BLM Idaho Creates Celebrating Our Idaho BLM Veterans Webpage

This Veteran's Day, the BLM Idaho paid tribute to its employees who are veterans, active duty military and military family members with a new webpage, Celebrating Our Idaho BLM Veterans. In these stories, BLMers speak as veterans, as family members and often as both – sharing the family tradition of military service for generations.

Read the feature Jayson Murgoitio in Afghanistan story below by Jayson Murgoitio, BLM Idaho State Office, and then CLICK HERE to visit the Celebrating Our Idaho BLM Veterans webpage.

“My grandfather, Lee Griat, served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was at Pearl Harbor the day of the "big show" as he liked to say. Although he rarely, if ever, talked about what he saw during his time in the service, I believe he carried a sort of guilt about making it through the war physically unharmed when so many young men and women weren't as lucky.

I never really understood this until I had my own experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans' Day is a wonderful time to honor military service, and the recognition of our veterans is both justified and appreciated. I feel very blessed to work at an organization where military service is held in such high regard, with people who are truly thankful for the sacrifices made by our veterans. And yet I think I speak for many vets who would say that all the honor and recognition really should be for the true heroes – those who didn't make it home.”

BLM Wyoming Recognizes Its Veterans and Supports Active Duty Military and Reservists

This Veteran's Day, the BLM Wyoming proudly shared photos of their employees who are veterans. Wyoming also featured the story of Charlie Morton, wildlife biologist in the BLM Wyoming's Rawlins Field Office and a platoon sergeant in the Army National Guard. Morton was deployed last week for a security assignment, but not before he could discuss his family, supportive BLM leaders and his love of public service.

BLM Wyoming employees who have served in the military.
Top photo - Happy Veterans Day to veterans from the Lander Field Office. From left: Mary Vargo (Army), Jonathan Tatlock (Navy), Rubel Vigil (Navy), Larry Leavenworth (Marines) and (kneeling) Anthony Sowell (Navy). Thank you for your service! Bottom right photo - Another veteran from the Lander Field Office, Jim Terry. Thank you Jim! Bottom left photo - We appreciate the service of the veterans from the Cody Field Office, Robert Evans and David Seward, both with the U.S. Navy.

Morton Deploys (Nov. 8, 2013)

Charlie Morton, BLM WyomingThis Veteran's Day, the BLM honors its men and women who serve in our armed forces. While their cubicles may sit silent, they are never far from our thoughts. Below is the story of one BLM Wyoming specialist and reservist as he prepares to leave for a long-term deployment.

BLM Renewable Energy Coordination Office Wildlife Biologist Charlie Morton is quiet and reflective as he cleans out his cubicle upstairs at the Rawlins Field Office. His books are neatly lined up, and his desk cleared of all clutter. His co-workers form a steady stream of well-wishers. This is Morton's last day of work before he deploys as a platoon sergeant for an engineering company on a security mission with the Army National Guard based in Laramie, Wyo.

For the next nine months or more, Morton will trade the bitter cold of Wyoming winters for the brutal heat of the Island of Bahrain where humidity hovers around 90 percent and temperatures skyrocket above 120 degrees. The terrain will be vastly different as well. He'll trade the high-altitude mountains for flat desert at just 600 feet elevation. "I know I'll miss the mountains," reflects Morton.

Morton will also miss his young family, wife Stacy, their one-year-old daughter Isabella, two-and-one-half-year-old Charlie Morton III, 11-year-old Chase, and 13-year-old John. "You just handle these long deployments the best you can," states Morton. This is the second long deployment Morton has endured in his more than 17 years with the Army National Guard. From 2003-2005 he was stationed in Tikrit, Iraq for 16 months.

Duty and honor, though, drive Morton. "When I first joined the Army National Guard, it was the only way I could pay for college. Then I participated in several state activations for blizzards and floods, and that hooked me," says Morton. "That sense of helping the community is powerful. I've also been able to serve on humanitarian missions to third-world countries, and that is very satisfying."

At a farewell luncheon, Morton is humble and quick to praise. "I can't stress enough how much the support I've received from our management means to me. They've answered all my questions and really helped ease my mind. I'd like to think it's the same in other offices, and it is very much appreciated."

Morton is well aware of the dangers ahead, "In a perfect world, everything will be as if I never left." His BLM family hopes for that, as well.

By Serena Baker, public affairs specialist, BLM Wyoming

BLM California Celebrates Veterans on @BLMCalifornia Facebook

This Veteran's Day, the BLM California utilized the broad reach of social media to share the BLM story. On their @BLMCalifornia Facebook page, the communications team created an interactive photo album of veterans who work for the BLM California.

BLM California collage of employees on Facebook

On the Facebook photo album, the individual photo collage of each employee is "clickable." Select a photo to read a short bio of the employee. CLICK HERE to view the online photo album.

Photo of military group at Fort Ord National Monument when it was a military installation.

Another Facebook post highlighted and linked to a California Newbytes story by Eric Morgan, Fort Ord National Monument manager. He recently received a letter from a 96-year-old woman who came across a photo of her sister who worked at the then Fort Ord military base.

CLICK HERE to read the full story.

Washington Office Shares Stories of Service and Family; Recognizes Recent BLM Recruit

This Veteran's Day, the BLM Washington Office employees decorated a shared bulletin board and posted photos with stories about their military service as well as the service of their family members.

Bulletin board of BLM employee photos and stories for Veteran's Day.

The Washington Office also recognized Anthony Small, a WO Public Affairs Specialist who was sworn into the D.C. Air National Guard on Nov. 2, 2013. CLICK HERE to read Anthony Small's story on oneINTERIOR or CLICK HERE to read it in the employee section of doi.gov.

BLM Nevada Shares Veteran Stories of Experience and Recognition

This Veteran's Day, BLM Nevada prepared a shared bulletin board of photos and stories of employees who served in the military. The stories ranged from personal experiences in the military to recognition pieces, like the story included below by Brett Nyrehn, geologist, BLM Elko Nevada Wells Field Office, and U.S. Army, Infantry, C Co, 1st BN, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard (TOG)).

“I served at Arlington National Cemetery from December 2003 through November 2008. While there I participated in well over 3000 funerals. Part of our job was also in conducting counter terrorism operations for the National Capital Region in conjunction with other branches and agencies.

A good man and leader always comes to mind this time of year. He was one of my platoon leaders and eventually our company XO. John Tinsley was a great leader who was able to inspire Soldiers to work harder, give more, expect less. This despite the typical cynicism of most within the infantry. He was always working longer or harder on something for his guys or making sure requests that would help out/benefit his guys were happening quickly and efficiently.

Caption John Tinsley, recognized by BLM employee on Veteran's Day.

After a good stint in the Infantry, Captain Tinsley moved onto try out for and be selected for US ARMY Special Forces. He was serving with the Green Berets when he was killed 12 August 2008. Sadly many of us didn't hear about this even until much later. He received military honors and burial at Arlington, with a great many of his current and former Soldiers in attendance. I'm always sad, but proud to have served with men like him this time of year. He very much embodied what people talk about wanting in leaders, yet so often seems to be present. His sacrifices for his country and men are part of the tradition that has continued to keep our good nation going since 1776 when the Army first took care of the protection and care of these United States.

Hooah Captain Tinsley!”

BLM Colorado Shares Employee Story, Not All Vets Wore Uniforms

This Veteran's Day, BLM Colorado shared the story of Bernie Gantt, Navy veteran and administrative assistant in the BLM White River Field Office.

Bernie and Anne GanttBernie Gantt graduated from high school in a small Colorado town northeast of Denver. After graduation, Gantt knew one thing for sure; he was never going back to school. Instead, he joined the union and began working in the construction field. His plans changed when the union went on strike in March of 1972. Newly- graduated Gantt was out of work and out of options.

A few months into the strike, Gantt made the spontaneous decision to join the U.S Navy in May 1972. He recalls the recruiter wanting to make a "Nuke" out of him. Gantt considered the two year school requirement for "Nuke" occupations as a deterrent and instead decided to become a firefighter.

Two years later Gantt completed schools in Firefighting; Damage Control; Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense; Advanced Welding; and Nuclear Component Welding. After all that education, the Navy assigned him to a submarine repair facility in Scotland where he met his wife, Anne.

He and his wife, along with their two sons, spent the next 21 years traveling the world on assignments where Gantt worked repairing submarine reactors and other ship systems. He progressed in his career with additional responsibilities, eventually becoming a chief warrant officer. His warrant officer career led to even more responsibility, culminating in assignments as battle group damage control officer for the Persian Gulf Battle Group during Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

During Gantt's 23-year career in the Navy, his family moved eight times, and he was deployed overseas for 17 years. Anne devoted countless days and months supporting the family by virtually being a single parent to the two sons and supporting her husband while he was overseas defending the U.S. In addition to the numerous professional certifications during his career, Gantt continued his education by obtaining an Associate's Degree in Applied Science while attending college classes on board ship and at shore commands.

Gantt has been working for the White River Field Office in Meeker, Colorado for five years where he was a visitor information assistant and now as an administrative assistant.

BLM Arizona Celebrates Veteran’s Day with BLM Vets and Youth

In a special Veteran's Day commemoration, the Bureau of Land Management Phoenix District Office paired its veterans with local youth in a three-day field project that encouraged staff to get outdoors, improve public lands and serve as mentors.

The field activities primarily took place at the Black Canyon City Heritage Park in Arizona from Nov. 7- 9, 2013.

BLM Phoenix District Office and Student Conservation Association partners.

The theme of the event – sponsored by the BLM, the Black Canyon City Community Association, Historic Preservation, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other local partners - was Wellness and Prescription for Fun. Through the event, partners worked to get the community outdoors and physical; to appreciate the work on the trails and pond at the Heritage Park; and to promote hikes / rides from the park and into public lands like the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail.

The event also offered food and beverages, a local parade as well as several educational booths, including one staffed by the BLM Phoenix District youth crew who discussed their experiences at the BLM field school. Most important, the PDO District employees – primarily veterans - joined the youth in field work in order to mentor them about federal careers. The BLM focuses these projects to recognize veterans working in the PDO and to encourage veterans to highlight their life experiences for the youth.

The founder of the Student Conservation Association, Liz Putnam, also made an appearance at the event. The youth crew has partnered with and worked alongside an SCA Veterans Chainsaw Crew and the PDO staff to accomplish several conservation projects:

-pond clean-up and removal of cattails;
-trail work-clearing and weeding edges;
-invasive plant removal;
-removal of algae from creek; and
-installing signs and tree removal.

BLM New Mexico Veterans Share Stories of Support and Opportunity

The BLM New Mexico recognized Veteran's Day this year by posting stories and photos from their employees who are veterans on a shared bulletin board. A photo of the display and the full stories are included below. All of the stories highlight support for veterans from family, friends and other soldiers. All of the veterans speak about the lasting role that the military has played in their lives.

BLM New Mexico veteran stories and photos.

Mike Bilbo, cave specialist, Roswell Field Office—U.S. Army

"I was in the Army Infantry from 1973-82 and then the USAR up to 2004. I got married while in the Army Reserve and my wife often went with me to drill locations and would stay in a motel while I drilled. But she also helped my various drill sites in Reno, Ogden and Ft. Carson (1997-2004) by volunteering to be our "secretary" when we needed help during busy drill periods and eventually our battalion commander sent her a letter of commendation for helping us out.

Otherwise I was always involved in combat arms, active Infantry and U.S. Army Reserve. I consider myself a late Cold War Veteran - although really never saw combat, though called up for Desert Storm as a forward observer. Closest to anything like that was 1976. I was one of the United Nations Command guards, who provided security for our Military Armistice Commission members at the Joint Security Area, PanMunJom, when the North Koreans jumped and killed my company commander and our 1st Platoon Leader (it's referred to as the "Tree Incident" or "Axe Murders") - there's actually an article coming out in the Smithsonian Air and Space magazine on various DEFCONS and that was one of them where we came really, really close to going back into combat with North Korea. I think there will be quotes from me in that article."

Tom King, human resources assistant, New Mexico State Office— Master Sargent USMC Ret, Time of service 1960 to 1981

"When I was a kid at 17 years old, I made a decision to go into the Marine Corps. This was during the time of the Vietnam War. 21 years later I retired from the military and came into a country which at that time was not very friendly to me. However since that time things have really turned around and I have found that this country really does have a heart for their service members. I have received tremendous support through the Veterans Administration. I was afforded the opportunity to get and did receive a Bachelor's Degree in Business, which has guided me through the past 30+ years. My time with the military has opened countless doors of opportunity, and today I must say 'My time in the Marine Corps was the best time of my life, and has meant more to me than any other life experience'".

Allan Read, human resources assistant, New Mexico State Office—U.S. Marine Corps.

"I joined the Marine Corps right out of high school. I served from June 1992 to July 2005. I had the privilege (if you want to call it that) of being stationed on both coasts, San Diego and Washington DC (twice). During my time I got to experience many different events that most don't get too, military and civilian. I was part of the President Clinton's 2nd Inauguration, was assigned to the Presidential Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1), deployed 3 different times (Japan, aboard USS Peleliu (15th Marine Expeditionary Unit), and Kuwait/Iraq. Along with the deployments, we visited different cities and countries. That is something that will live with me for a long time. Having the support and love of family during deployments is something that will make those times away more meaningful once you return."

Matthew Lopez, automated land records specialist, New Mexico State Office—U.S. Army

"I served in the United States Army during the Cold War 1985 thru 1993. Received my Training in Fort Jackson South Carolina. Served a two year tour of duty in Europe (West Germany) and then two year tour of service in Central Texas (Fort Hood, Killeen TX). Completed my military contract with the inactive reserves.

My family was very supportive by helping me with emotional support by showing that they believed in what I was wanting to do for the United States in the Military."

Danny Garcia, support service, New Mexico State Office—U.S. Army

"I joined the U.S. Army on July 21, 1978, as way to make money to finish my college degree. I was a very gratifying and challenging part of my life. From a young man, with no knowledge of life to a man with a full view of life. I experience difference cultures as the army moved me from one country to the others. The European culture, Arabs, Japanese and Latin American cultures were very different but it made me appreciated what the US has to offer. There's no country like ours. I serve in different units in the army, from the 82 Airborne Divisions, 1st Special Forces Group to the Army Recruiting. These units required you to be physically or mentally tough. We did fun things like jumping out of airplanes into different terrains; fire all kind of weapons and all kind of fun missions.

The best part of my time in the military was my fellow soldiers that we train and fought alongside with me. We come from different background, race or religion but came together for a common goal.

Most of them were young mans, no older than eighteen years old but with a great dedication for their country. On the 1st August 2001, I retired from the military after 20 years of service. That was by far the best time of my life."

BLM New Mexico group photo of veterans.

BLM Montana/Dakotas Creates Presentation That Showcases Veterans

For Veteran’s Day, the BLM Montana/Dakotas created a presentation that showcases veterans working for the BLM Montana/Dakotas. See a few highlights from the presentation below, and then CLICK HERE to download the full presentation.

One slide in BLM Montana/Dakotas presentation about veterans.

Collage of photos of BLM employees who are highlighted in the BLM Montana/Dakotas veteran presentation.

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The BLM thanks Interior employees who are veterans, active-duty military and military family members for their service to this country, and for their stewardship of public lands.

By: BLM-National
Nov. 12, 2013