Federal Employees to Be Honored with Service to America Medals

By on September 22, 2014 in Current Events with 2 Comments

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service will present eight Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) on Monday, September 22 to public servants whose outstanding achievements have improved the lives of Americans and others around the globe.

The Sammies have earned a reputation as one of the most prestigious awards dedicated to honoring America’s civil servants.

“The Service to America Medals are a powerful illustration of the good that government workers do every day, and their impact on our lives,” said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO. “The best way to strengthen our government is to build on what is working. We will never get what we want from government if all we do is tear it down.”

The top medal, Federal Employee of the Year, will be presented to Rana Hajjeh from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Hib Initiative team for leading a global vaccination campaign that will save the lives of millions of children.

Edwin Kneedler, a top career deputy in the Solicitor General’s Office at the Department of Justice, will receive the Career Achievement Medal for having argued 125 cases before the Supreme Court and helped shape the government’s legal position on hundreds more, while setting a high standard for integrity and protecting the long-term interests of the United States.

Additional Service to America Medals will go to federal workers whose achievements include improving the lives of paralyzed veterans, launching a new era of private-sector space transportation and recovering nearly a billion dollars in stolen Medicare funds.

The recipients of the thirteenth annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals are:

William Bauman and Ann Spungen, Science and Environment Medal
Director and Associate Director, National Center of Excellence for the Medical Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury, James J. Peters VA Medical Center
Department of Veterans Affairs, New York City

Individuals living with spinal cord injuries suffer from associated medical problems involving blood pressure, breathing, bladder control, heart disease, temperature regulation and non-healing ulcers—health issues that were long overlooked by the medical profession. Bauman and Spungen developed innovative medical advances and novel drug therapies to treat these ailments, helping to improve the health and quality of life for paralyzed veterans.

Omar Pérez Aybar, Reginald France, Joseph Beemsterboer, Dan Bernstein, Randy Culp, Joseph Jeziorski and the Miami HEAT Teams, Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal
Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice, Miami and Washington, D.C.

Every year, health care providers file billions of dollars in fraudulent Medicare claims. This interagency team coordinated criminal investigations for 12 special Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Teams (HEAT) in South Florida that uncovered hundreds of fraudulent Medicare schemes by durable medical equipment suppliers, home health agencies, physicians and rehabilitation facilities. The investigations resulted in nearly 700 convictions and the recovery of almost one billion dollars.

Sean Young and Benjamin Tran, National Security and International Affairs Medal
Electronics Engineers, Air Force Research Laboratory
Department of the Air Force, Dayton, OH

Improvised explosive devices have caused two-thirds of the casualties to U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan. Engineers Young and Tran led the development, testing and deployment of a cutting-edge system of sensors placed on unmanned aerial vehicles that have helped Army and Special Forces units identify deadly improvised explosive devices and destroy these bombs before they could cause harm.

Alan Lindenmoyer, Management Excellence Medal
Program Manager, Commercial Crew and Cargo Program
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Houston

When the space shuttle program ended, NASA needed a way to transport supplies and crews to the International Space Station. Lindenmoyer solved this problem by launching a new era of private-sector orbital transportation. By creatively joining forces with the private U.S. space launch industry, Lindenmoyer made it possible for our country to continue its lead in space exploration while dramatically reducing the costs to taxpayers of building and deploying rockets and spacecraft.

Sara Meyers, Call to Service Medal
Director, Sandy Program Management Office
Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C.

The federal government needed to better understand the effectiveness of critical housing and disaster recovery programs. Meyers set up systems to analyze vast amounts of data to help policymakers track and evaluate the performance of critical programs dealing with homelessness, public housing and rental subsidies. She also set up processes to track the spending and effectiveness of $13.6 billion in economic stimulus money for housing and $50 billion in Hurricane Sandy disaster recovery funding.

Michael Byrne, Citizen Services Medal
Former Geographic Information Officer
Federal Communications Commission, Washington, D.C.  

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was charged with expanding broadband service nationwide. To achieve that goal, Byrne created a set of interactive, searchable online maps that put detailed data about broadband availability in the hands of citizens and policymakers. He also created online maps and geospatial visualizations that helped consumers and businesses make informed decisions by bringing to light previously inaccessible data about our country’s communications systems, including the proposed locations for new cellphone towers and new low power FM radio stations, and the availability of spectrum to be auctioned by the government.

Edwin Kneedler, Career Achievement Medal
Deputy Solicitor General
Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

Edwin Kneedler has argued 125 cases before the Supreme Court, more than any other practicing attorney, on issues ranging from health care to free speech. As the top career deputy in the Solicitor General’s Office, Kneedler has set a high standard for integrity and has used his immense experience, institutional knowledge and credibility to help craft the government’s legal position on hundreds of cases before the nation’s high court.

Rana Hajjeh and the Hib Initiative Team, Federal Employee of the Year
Director, Division of Bacterial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta

Until recently, nearly 400,000 children in developing nations were dying annually of bacterial meningitis and pneumonia. Employing a combination of persistence, advocacy and science, Hajjeh worked with public health partners to convince 60 countries to use the Hib vaccine to curb the spread of these diseases, ultimately preventing millions of childhood deaths and disabilities such as mental retardation and deafness. The Hib Initiative, funded by the GAVI Alliance, is a consortium of four organizations: CDC, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and World Health Organization.

The Service to America Medal recipients were nominated by colleagues familiar with their work and selected by a committee that includes leaders in government, academia, the private sector, media and philanthropy. Nearly 400 nominations were submitted for consideration this year.

For profiles and videos of the medalists and to nominate a federal employee for a 2015 Sammies visit servicetoamericamedals.org.

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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