FORT LEE, Va. (Dec. 19, 2018) -- For the fifth time in six years, a Fort Lee employee has brought home a major award recognizing superior support of the Installation Management Command and Army missions.
Carrie E. Meinzer, director of the garrison's Human Resources department, graciously accepted the 2018 Stalwart Award at the IMCOM Commander's Conference in San Antonio Nov. 28. The hardware was presented by Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Becker and Command Sgt. Maj. Melissa Judkins, IMCOM commander and CSM, respectively. Others present included Col. Hollie Martin, Fort Lee garrison commander, and CSM Vittorio DeSouza, garrison CSM.
Stalwart honors those executing their duties and responsibilities at levels far above their peers. More than 30,000 IMCOM employees are eligible for the award earned by 14 this year. Previous Fort Lee award winners are Debra Bingham, the former Garrison Public Affairs Office director who passed away in 2013; Melissa Magowan, the former deputy to the garrison commander; Scott Brown, who heads up the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security; and Stephen Baker, garrison Public Affairs officer.
Meinzer, DHR director since 2015, said she is wowed by the accolade and feels "proud, excited and honored" to have earned it. Furthermore, the award struck a chord with her because it speaks not only of her professional accomplishments but her personal endeavors as well.
"I think it's emblematic of people who truly care about what they do and who they do it for; and in a more holistic way, it recognizes the broader effort of the team to make a difference," she said. "That's the state of mind I promote in my directorate. Positive attitudes and proactivity are important to me."
Further hinting at feelings of awkwardness when she learned she had been selected for the Stalwart Award, Meinzer said that reaction was due to a belief her performance was "just part of the job." In her assessment, there are many coworkers and co-managers who do equally awesome work.
"From that standpoint, you tend to wonder what it was you did that was so special to qualify for the recognition," she observed.
Meinzer's personal stamp of awesomeness was detailed in a three-page letter of nomination, excerpts of which were extracted for presentation purposes at the commander's conference. Glowing in tone and quantified with various examples, the reading recapped her most noteworthy achievements and explained why the work stood out.
"Carrie has consistently shown herself to be an outstanding mentor and workplace leader, demonstrating a great capacity to teach, motivate and lead her teams," a portion of the write-up read. "Her coaching skills built an exceptionally loyal and competent Human Resources staff that is attuned to the needs of their constituency, forging a great 'sense of community' in the environment in which they serve. The focus on a cohesive team sets her organization apart from others as consistently 'high performing,' and her employees are recognized throughout the installation as an exceptional cohort."
The nomination also brought attention to Meinzer's "demonstrated care" for the 19 civil service and 62 contract workers in her directorate that's responsible for various administrative functions -- among them the annual maintenance and upkeep of more than 70,000 military personnel records.
Also noteworthy, according to her superiors, is Meinzer's effort to improve the DHR's operational efficiency.
"Driving change, and not fearing it, Carrie made tough decisions this year to underwrite key future requirements by eliminating several postal, passport agent and casualty (assistance) positions in her organization," according to the nomination letter. "In order to mitigate these loses, Carrie developed cross-training programs to ensure continuity, and then seized on installation assets that had the tools and personnel to provide many of these services."
Meinzer's feats were such they were recognized by senior leaders outside the garrison chain of command. They included retired Admiral John C. Harvey Jr., Virginia's former Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, who praised HR's military Transition Assistance Program for its effectiveness and wanted to expand its access, according to the nomination letter.
The document also lauded Meinzer for her support of programs for the garrison's 350 employees. They include those involving transition, hiring actions and workforce development.
A native of Colorado Springs, Colo., Meinzer spent four years on active duty as an Army officer. She transitioned to the Army Reserve afterward and was medically retired this year after four years of service.
Meinzer's pastimes include caring for her cats; volunteering for Richardson's Rescue, a pet adoption organization; and being a foster pet owner. "I'm not talking crazy cat lady status," she jokingly interjected. "I only have two family cats, and I foster two others at a time."
Volunteering as an English as a Second Language instructor and adult literacy tutor are her other community service endeavors.