In partnership with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office, the Lab Directorate hosted Berkeley Lab’s 4th annual appreciation luncheon for veterans on Wednesday, November 8, 2017. All Lab employees from various branches of the U.S. military, including veterans in the DOE Berkeley Site Office, were invited to attend. Lab Director Mike Witherell provided opening remarks and thanked them for their service to our country and the Lab. UC Berkeley’s Air Force and Army Color Guard presented the colors to over 50 veterans who attended. Phil Weiss, Co-Chair of the Veteran Employee Resource Group (VERG), invited fellow servicemen and women to join VERG. With the help of fellow veteran Ray Turner, Biosciences Deputy of Operations, Weiss distributed “challenge coins” to all veterans who attended. To view photos from the event, click here.
“I believe events such as the Veterans Appreciation Lunch is important because it brings members of the Lab’s community together in a unique way that allows them to share their experiences, both in their service and their current roles at the Lab,” said Weiss. “Having the Lab Director attend this event shows his commitment to our collective efforts of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. While his attendance provides validation that the veteran population is important to the Lab, his actions and words are even more significant. While the Lab’s goal is to “bring science solutions to the world,” Director Witherell’s support demonstrates that one of the most important ways to accomplish our scientific mission is to bring people together and build community.”
Weiss also discussed the significance of the challenge coins. “They represent a military tradition in which a servicemember is awarded a specially forged coin for significant service in the eyes of a leader. They are not given often or casually, and are most often cherished by the person receiving the challenge coin. In our case, we wanted a promote the self-identification of our servicemember community here at Berkeley Lab, and the coins were provided to all those who, through their actions, stand proud to be a current servicemember or military veteran. Along with Ray Turner, I was struck by how appreciative our veterans were of receiving this recognition, along with the smiles coming from everyone in the room. They looked at the gift for which they did not ask for, but rather, earned through their actions and service. Providing this token of gratitude to my colleagues in this way was one of the proudest moments of my career here at the Lab.”
To learn more about VERG, click here. Facilities Division Director Reva Nickelson is the VERG Executive Sponsor, with Weiss and Rich Celestre serving as Co-Chairs.