Deployable Cadre: Program mission evolves
April 3, 2013
Management of the Army Contracting Command's Deployable Cadre Program has moved to the ACC Deputy Chief of Staff Human Capital G1.
The program is the command's primary source for identifying, assigning and deploying civilian volunteer personnel in support of contracting requirements around the globe, according to the ACC Deployment Cadre Program Handbook.
Beverly Johnson, ACC DCP coordinator, said ACC is called upon to provide contract management skills and expertise to support the war fighter in operations beyond the scope of the command's day-to-day mission. This includes support to overseas operations, training exercises, natural disasters within the U.S. and high-visibility priorities across the command.
Prior to being moved to the G1, the DPC was a stand-alone office operating at the ACC-National Capital Region offices in Alexandria, Va. The move comes at a time when the program is being revamped. The DPC is also developing a major initiative focusing on the well-being of the volunteers as they return from deployment, said Beverly Johnson.
Before civilians are deployed, they go to a unit deployment center where they receive initial training, uniforms and equipment. They return to the deployment center upon their redeployment and receive a medical review before returning to their home units.
Research has revealed that civilians face the same psychological difficulties as Soldiers upon returning from deployment, such as post traumatic stress disorder, but they tend to not follow up with additional medical treatment since it's not mandatory, according to Sandra Merritt, also an ACC DCP coordinator.
ACC is now taking steps to improve the medical and mental redeployment review by requiring a second medical review 90-120 days after the deployment, Merritt said.
"We are here for the deployed civilians when they return and we want to make sure they know that,"
Merritt said. "Whatever we can do to assist them, we do our best."
In addition to the physical and mental reviews before and after deployment, the best assistance the DCP staff can provide to those deployed is to maintain constant communication during their deployment.
"Personal contact with them is an essential component of our jobs. Phone calls, emails, pictures… we want to communicate with them," Beverly Johnson stressed. "We want to make sure they feel stable and comfortable during their deployment."
Merritt said it's also critical for the DCP staff to communicate with the civilians at all times.
"We try to give them help before they deploy, while they are in the field, and when they come back," Merritt said. "We follow them the whole way through and provide whatever assistance we can." Merritt explained.
The DCP pool consists of 118 volunteers from ACC headquarters, the Expeditionary Contracting Command, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command and all six contracting centers.
According to Bill Baxter, ACC deputy chief of staff Human Capital G1, upon redeployment, cadre members earn up to an additional 10 percent of their base salary for successfully completing their assignment.
Overseas deployments are typically six months and there are also opportunities for stateside temporary duty. Volunteers can sign up to be considered for either or both. Cadre members also have guaranteed return rights to their current assignments. Employees in the contracting and quality assurance career fields can apply, and those with knowledge of the Procurement Desktop-Defense Contracting System are preferred.
Valerie Johnson, a procurement analyst in the ACC Operations Group, is a DCP volunteer who recently returned from Iraq.
"Whenever I had a problem, they responded quickly," Valerie Johnson said. "If they didn't know the answer, they found out. They never left a question unanswered."
Cadre members like Valerie Johnson are exactly who the G1 office strives to assist, Merritt said.
"We have to communicate with them," said Beverly Johnson. "We can't assist them if we don't know what is going on."
"It's important to keep the communication going so we can tweak the program as we need to," Merritt added. "It not only helps them, but it helps us help the next group of cadre members who go out into the field."