After more than 200 years, Watervliet still honors, recognizes its rich diversity

By John B. Snyder, Watervliet ArsenalMarch 22, 2017

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WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (March 23, 2017) -- In an annual ceremony conducted here March 22, the Arsenal commander awarded Heather Durr with the command's Martin Luther King Jr. Award for her excellence and leadership in promoting the Arsenal's equal employment opportunity program.

Durr, who is a management analyst here, spearheads the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, program for the Arsenal. She also writes a monthly column for the Arsenal's newsletter that touts contemporary issues related to community, such as cyberbullying.

Just prior to awarding Durr her award, Arsenal Commander Col. Joseph Morrow said that today's diversity luncheon is a big event. That across the military, across the Department of Defense, across the federal workforce, diversity is a big deal, and the Arsenal has got it right for more than 200 years.

"This event is about values, accountability, and actions to yourself, to your organization, and to the community," Morrow said. "The person who is the recipient of this award shows all of those attributes in every way, from being on-call 24-hours-a-day for the arsenal to volunteering in the community, Heather does it all."

Morrow also cited that Durr accompanies him on monthly SHARP inspections, attends the monthly SHARP teleconferences with higher headquarters, and conducts a significant amount of volunteer work outside of the arsenal helping disadvantaged youth.

The award, which has been presented annually since at least 1988 here, allows the Arsenal to pay tribute to an outstanding employee who has exhibited the highest standards of excellence, dedication, and accomplishment at the Arsenal, and who has also made significant contributions to the quality of life in the local area. Durr met all of those requirements, and more.

The Arsenal has greatly valued its diverse workforce since it opened its gates in the summer of 1813. Ever since the first production line was put in place, women, and sometime children, have worked side-by-side their male counterparts.

The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility and is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States having begun operations during the War of 1812. It celebrated its 200th anniversary on July 14, 2013. It is a subordinate command to TACOM LCMC and the Army Materiel Command.

Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and allied armies to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark had revenue in fiscal year 2016 that exceeded $126 million and provides an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $90 million.

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