Fort Carson DEERS earns No. 1 in DOD
May 2, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- In one year, the 15-person team from the Fort Carson Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System Identification Card section and the Soldier Readiness Processing site serviced more than 130,000 customers.
"We serve between 180 and 250 people each day," said Denise Ellis, verifying official, DEERS. "We go above and beyond regular customer service."
Ellis said the DEERS team prides itself on its professionalism and efficiency, but also its willingness to take care of each customer, regardless of service branch or military status.
"Last year we helped a retired (servicemember) file a dependency packet for his child. While he was deployed, the servicemember's wife tried to file the paperwork, but was denied. We found out what needed to be taken care of to get his packet approved," she said.
Ellis recalled another time when members of the DEERS team stayed past closing time to accommodate a World War II veteran.
"We'll work through lunch," she added. "Things like that, we'll do to support our customer."
This dedication to customers earned the office the ID/DEERS Site of the Year for fiscal 2012 out of nearly 1,600 Department of Defense sections worldwide.
Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center and member of the Senior Executive Service, presented the award Tuesday during a ceremony at the Elkhorn Conference Center.
"That ID card is the gateway to the Department of Defense," she said. "Without it, you won't be able to work. Families won't be able to access services. The rest of the DOD counts on, depends on, these ID cards."
Dixon praised the section for their commitment to ensuring the "right" people are given access to cards, while also safeguarding against nonoperational cards.
"We calculated that each ID card costs $8 to issue," she said. "Every time it doesn't work, you have to issue a new card. We spend $3 million each year printing ID cards."
Dixon commended the efforts to establish appointment times, reducing a customer's wait from 40 minutes to five minutes. She also acknowledged the staff's work in educating customers on the DEERS process to alleviate confusion and consternation.
"This site epitomizes customer service," she said.
Maj. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, attended the event, congratulating the DEERS team.
"This is a testimony to your professionalism," he said. "Hopefully next year we're all here again."
Mike Pierson, chief, ID/DEERS section, credited his staff with earning the award.
"I respect them all for the customer service they provide," he said. "I'm fortunate to work with such a great team."
Pierson said his section's commitment to teamwork, both internally and externally, set them up for success.
"It's building on services that are already available and working with other agencies to support the customer," he said. "That's what we do."
Randy Kennedy, verification officer for DEERS, said he returned to Fort Carson because of the team atmosphere.
"I had a chance to go to the East Coast," he said. "These guys are the reason I came back."
Kennedy said the team carries its friendly, open atmosphere into the office, treating and supporting customers in the same way.
"They're a great bunch," he said. "These are my greatest friends."
"We enjoy doing our job, taking care of Soldiers and Families," said Vince Gabat, verification officer. "(Winning the award) is a first, so it means a lot."