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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (June 21, 2021) – For Jill Rich, going to work is not work when you have as much fun as she does.

Rich has turned that enthusiasm into success – and people are taking notice. The branch chief for fabrication and instrumentation within the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Technology Development Directorate Technical Integration Division was recently awarded the Civilian Service Achievement Medal for her time as an interim division chief as part of a developmental assignment.

Rich said that receiving the award was a complete shock, although she became suspicious that something was afoot as she gave DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Director Jeff Langhout a tour of DEVCOM AvMC facilities at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and suddenly her team appeared.

“I am so honored,” Rich said. “I was so surprised when they presented me with the award, I had no idea that was coming.”

Working for AvMC was a natural fit for the self-proclaimed Army brat. Growing up, Rich was always fascinated by helicopters. Although she thought that she would leave Virginia after graduation from Old Dominion University, the opportunity to work at AvMC was too tempting to pass up. Seventeen years later, that love of helicopters has only deepened as she has had the opportunity to directly work with Soldiers while testing the equipment that her team developed.

Rich said that she enjoys her job so much that it actually gave her pause when she was asked to take on the temporary assignment as division chief.

“It was something that I would definitely love to build up to in the next 5-10 years. I really thought about it and I thought that it would be a great learning opportunity,” she said. “I was a little nervous about filling the role but I decided to give it a try. I love what I do but I thought it would be good to have some different perspective and input into it.

“And also I think it prepared me for the future if I do apply for a position at that level – I now know the expectations of me and what to expect of it, and how to tailor my career path.”

Due to personnel changes, what was initially supposed to be a six-month rotation stretched out longer than planned and at one point, Rich found herself in both her new position and her old role.

“Jill is an exceptional leader and she excelled in what is probably one of the more complex jobs within AvMC,” said Col. Justin Highley, commander for TDD-Aviation Systems Integration & Demonstration. “Her enthusiasm is contagious and it drives everyone around her to perform better.  We are incredibly lucky to have her on our team – she is definitely a rising star.”

Needless to say that after her experience, Rich’s advice to others contemplating a developmental is: go for it.

“It’s a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself,” Rich said. “I am not as young as I used to be but I still feel like I am one of the younger ones in the senior meetings. You can give a different perspective and a lot of people are welcoming to different ideas. You will surprise yourself about how much you learn and how much you can contribute.”

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The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.