FORT DETRICK, Md. -- If Eric Delgado walked into a U.S. Army recruiting office today, he would make the same decision he did 30 years ago when he chose to enlist.
“I always wanted to serve,” said Delgado, a retired master sergeant with 25 years combined active-duty and reserves service. “The Army definitely shaped not only my career, but also shaped my life as an individual.”
Delgado is one of many former military service members who make up the ranks of U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command’s civilians and contract workforce. The command is recognizing the service and sacrifice of its veterans and all U.S. service members this Veterans Day.
Col. Timothy Walsh, AMLC’s deputy commander, said veterans are “an integral part” of the AMLC team and Army as a whole.
"We are honored and blessed to have so many who make the choice to continue the mission as a civilian after serving honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces," he said. "The sense of duty, measure of devotion and selflessness which made them successful during their time in uniform continues to guide them and allows them to serve as an invaluable asset to any organization they are assigned."
Like many others from military families, Delgado’s Army story dates back to his father’s service during the Korean War. His brother also served, as well as his son, currently in the Air Force.
Delgado, now a civilian employee of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, a direct reporting unit to AMLC, said he enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1991, then four years later joined the active-duty ranks. He served as a multiple launch rocket system fire direction specialist and medical logistics specialist.
His 25-year career included a deployment to Afghanistan and time serving as the senior enlisted advisor to the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Southwest Asia. Delgado currently serves as a medical logistics systems analyst for USAMMA’s Business Support Office.
“Serving is definitely a noble profession,” he said. “People have given their lives. Families have given their loved ones defending others and protecting people they don’t even know. What can be more honorable?”
Carmine Izzo, one of several veterans now working as civilian employees for AMLC’s Policies and Analysis Directorate, said he originally joined the Army to help pay off his student loans.
But he “soon came to realize that the Army, and the job I performed, was not just an occupation but a vocation,” Izzo said.
Izzo’s Army career spanned 21 years, from 1987 to 2008. Soon after joining, he completed the medical equipment specialist course through the U.S. Army Medical Equipment and Optical School at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Aurora, Colorado.
Later, he deployed to Germany in support of Operation Desert Storm/Shield in 1990, as well as to Haiti as part of a humanitarian mission in 1995 and Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The following year, he completed the Medical Logistics Management Internship Program, known as MLMIP, at USAMMA.
“I truly am proud of serving, not only the country but the other service members, communities and the citizens of those countries that I deployed to as medical equipment repairer, Army logistician and a kindred human being,” he said.
Working alongside Izzo in AMLC’s P&A Directorate, Scott Long retired from the Army as a master sergeant in 2004 after a 21-year career, specializing in medical logistics and systems development.
“I come from a military family that has served in all branches and continue to serve our great nation,” said Long, now a civilian supply management specialist.
Long said he joined the Army for many reasons, primarily because of the influence of family members growing up, including his uncle, retired Sgt. Maj. Marvin Ring, “who was a Soldier’s Soldier and I wanted to be just like him.”
Joining the Army was a rewarding experience all around for Long, who added that being in the military is “like having a huge family that works hard together” to tackle missions, big or small, that protect the nation and preserve the freedoms Americans enjoy today.
“It’s important to remember things we take for granted like our everyday freedoms, kept secure by military service and sacrifices from brave men and women who have served,” he said.
For Newt Oliphant, serving in the Army was a way to get an education.
It turned into a rewarding career as a medic, medical platoon leader, health care administrator and educator over 20 years of active duty service, retiring as a major in 2001.
“It’s more than a way to make a living -- it’s a way of life,” Oliphant said. “The Army is something that gets in your blood, and once it’s there, your veins run green.”
Looking back on his career, Oliphant, who has continued his service as a civilian employee for the past 17 years, including seven in two different roles at USAMMA, said getting to travel and see the world has made him really “appreciate what it means to be an American.”
“It’s important to recognize this thing called freedom, and what it takes to keep us free,” he said. “It’s the men and women who serve.”
Amanda Canada said serving her country has “shaped my career in so many ways,” adding that she doesn’t think she would be where she is today without it.
“The Army taught me the importance of commitment. It shaped me as a leader. It gave me the confidence to lead, the ability to inspire others and showed me that you have to lead through example,” said Canada, a retired Army sergeant who served almost five years on active duty.
Canada, now a supply systems analyst for the Integrated Logistics Support Center under AMLC, said her service helped solidify her personal values and provided technical work experience to further her career as a federal civilian.
“Serving in the Army challenged me,” she said, “… and it showed me the importance of continuing to challenge yourself and taking pride in helping others.”
Especially on Veterans Day, Canada said it’s important for everyone to understand what “service” truly means.
“For those who have served and continue to serve, service is unconditional,” she said. “It is done regardless of the circumstances and without reservation. It truly is selfless. Paying tribute and giving respect to our Veterans is important because they have served honorably -- some making the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country -- and have done this unconditionally.”