ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- A Senior Executive Service leader, Rhonda L. VanDeCasteele, retired from her position as the Deputy to the Commander, Joint Munitions Command, during an official ceremony held here Dec. 20, after serving more than 34 dedicated years in the Department of Defense.

Brig. Gen. Michelle M. T. Letcher, commander, Joint Munitions Command, and Sgt. Maj. Shontina Edwards served as the official retirement ceremony hosts. VanDeCasteele was presented with her official retirement certificate and numerous awards for her efforts during her career with the Army. Her husband, Gary VanDeCasteele, was also recognized for his support to her federal career.

Letcher spoke of VanDeCasteele's leadership, and how she consistently worked with teammates to take care of Soldiers and Civilians. "Rhonda has been a respected logistician and leader in this community, committed to supporting the JMC workforce and developing its next generation of leaders." Letcher referenced JMC's cultural pillars of trust, accountability, professionalism, learning, forward thinking and mutual support. "These pillars have been intricately woven into Rhonda's own work ethic and career," she noted.

"Under Rhonda's leadership and direction, JMC went through two major restructuring efforts to generate a culture focused on improvement and moving the command forward to provide more effective and efficient support to the Warfighter," added Letcher.

"Rhonda is well-respected as the Deputy to the Commander, but even more, as the professional she is in all she does for the organization, employees, and community that she serves," Letcher said. "She is an extraordinary leader dedicated to the Warfighter and the success of the Department of Defense. The outstanding accomplishments of JMC are a direct reflection of Rhonda's leadership and commitment to the Army and its employees."

"On behalf of Joint Munitions Command, the Army, and the Nation, and as a friend, thank you for your service," concluded Letcher.

In the civil service of the United States government, the SES is a position classification which is the equivalent to a general officer in the United States Armed Forces. In her position, she was the senior Civilian within the Joint Munitions Command, which was responsible for the command's mission to distribute, store, demilitarize, and produce ammunition for joint services and coalition partners to sustain worldwide readiness.

VanDeCasteele began her federal career on February 27, 1984, as a GS-7 Budget Analyst. She thanked everyone for their support during her career and became emotional as she thanked her Family in attendance. She also spoke of her many experiences within the Army's munitions community.

"Thanks to the Army leadership and the entire JMC team for trusting me to lead this organization," said VanDeCasteele. "You really are a reliable team of professionals dedicated to delivering munitions readiness."

"I've been blessed with many great mentors," she added. "I've developed and experienced many personal and professional relationships that have helped me along the way. I've learned how important it is for us to all work together to reach our goals."

"So most of you know that I looking forward to the next phase in my life," said VanDeCasteele. She mentioned her and her husband Gary, plan to travel, spend time with Family, and play lots of golf.

"Thank you to the Army and entire JMC team for allowing me to serve this great Nation," added VanDeCasteele. "General Letcher, its' been an honor, and I'm going to enjoy watching your career as you continue to progress. I know you're going to do great things."

"Team JMC, the oars are in the water," she concluded. "Keep growing together, you do remarkable things every day to continue to supply our Nation's Warfighters and allies with the munitions they need whenever they need it. Leaders will change, but that will never change."

To conclude the ceremony, VanDeCasteele furled her SES flag to represent her formal retirement.

Prior to her deputy to the commander assignment, VanDeCasteele served as the Executive Director for JMC during a brief time between commanders. She also served as the Executive Director for Ammunition in the Munitions and Logistics Readiness Center of JMC. In that role, she had responsibility for providing joint conventional munitions acquisition sustainment, readiness, and logistics direction for all U.S. military services and international partners.

Other previous assignments include Deputy Chief of Staff for Resource Management for JMC; Director of Business Operations in the Munitions Logistics and Readiness Center; JMC Strategic Planning Officer; Chief of the Small-Caliber Ammunition Division of Commodity Management; and various assignments associated with automation improvements, ammunition pricing and budget, and resource management.

VanDeCasteele is a native of Reynolds, Illinois, and a graduate of Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois, with a degree in finance. She obtained a Master of Organizational Leadership from St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa. She is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified and a recipient of the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe.

Following the formal retirement ceremony, a receiving line was held at which friends, co-workers, community members, and fellow Department of Defense officials congratulated Ms. VanDeCasteele and her Family. In addition to her husband, she was joined by her mother, two sons, and several extended Family members. A luncheon followed with distinguished guests to honor her retirement.