Offers Congratulations and Appreciation to
The 2009 Recipients of the “Leo C. Wurschmidt, Jr., Customer Service Award”
From The Wurschmidt Family
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that
The highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
These words offered by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy capture well the shared value system embodied by the two groups we gather today, to honor and recognize:
1) The Team of VA Professionals which is being awarded the 2009 “Leo C. Wurschmidt, Jr., Customer Service Team Award”; and
2) Those thousands of Veteran heroes for which the Department of Veteran Affairs and this Honored Team have defined their life’s mission.
As Ben Franklin summed, “Well done is better than well said.”
Congressman Steve Buyer once observed, “America’s veterans embody the ideals upon which America was founded more than 230 years ago.” We live by our ideals, and become most inspired, when we lay witness to our fellow friends, neighbors and co-workers who daily exemplify these ideals, through the four qualities of character and capability that Ray Blunt noted in his May 2000 report, “Leaders Growing Leaders: Preparing the Next Generation of Public Service Executives”:
1) An abiding focus on the core purpose of public service;
2) A deep (and demonstrated) belief in the worth and capabilities of people;
3) Courage – a willingness to take personal and organizational risks; and
4) Personal caring about people.
If we might repeat:
An abiding focus on core purpose;
A deep belief in people’s worth;
Personal caring about people
These are not platitudes. These capture the conceptual essence of what lies inside and motivates this Team of exceptional VA Professionals. You live and work to:
– Put a face to each Veteran – one hero at a time;
– Ensure each US Veteran knows well our shared passion in ensuring their life’s success; and
– Manifest the belief that “Customer service is not a department, it’s an attitude!”
Ray Blunt’s 2000 pamphlet “Leaders Growing Leaders,” profiled Leo Wurschmidt’s contributions of leadership and service, which offer background as to reasons why this fine award is named in Leo’s remembrance. Leo loved the VA, and Leo was most motivated when he had occasion to mentor, to coach, to teach, and to serve.
One of the finest examples of VA customer service occurred just prior to Leo’s passing on August 20, 2001. Then VA Secretary Anthony Principi flew down to Jackson, Mississippi, on a Saturday, and spent the entire afternoon, visiting at the bedside in Leo’s home, with Leo and his Family. Notions of carrying out the ideals of customer service start from the top. Our appreciation to Secretary Principi and the VA Family will always remain deep and eternal.
Thank you for this opportunity to be a part of the 2009 Denver Award Ceremony. Thank you to the Department of Veterans Affairs for carrying forward Leo’s memory in such a meaningful way.
And, most importantly, congratulations to the 2009 Customer Service Team Award winners! You live in the comfort of knowing your contributions have bettered the lives of our Veterans.
Socrates reminds us, “The way to gain a good reputation, is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” Or, as has been stated a bit differently, but with parallel meaning, “Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are.”
Congratulations, and thank you for your service on behalf of our cherished Veterans.
Todd Wurschmidt, PhD
On behalf of Leo’s Mother Pat Wurschmidt and the Wurschmidt Family
August 20, 2009
(For their special assistance, a personal thank you to Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits Michael Walcoff, and to Betty Anderson.)