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Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks presents presidential letters of recognition for the global vaccine support efforts to the acquisition and sustainment staff during a virtual gathering at the Pentagon, Jan. 21, 2022. © Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase, DOD

White House Praises DOD Acquisition Professionals for COVID-19 Efforts Around the World

Professionals with the Defense Department's acquisition workforce who worked on the White House and DOD COVID-19 supply chain global effort were honored with a letter of appreciation from President Joe Biden.

Published on January 24, 2022

A group of professionals with the Defense Department’s acquisition workforce who worked on the White House and DOD COVID-19 supply chain global effort were honored with a letter of appreciation from President Joe Biden in a ceremony at the Pentagon.

Conducted virtually, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen H. Hicks said the workforce and the nation have remained resilient and creative in how both entities approached the pandemic.

“You all are a group of Americans who so clearly exemplify what it is that makes us so resilient and creative and able to overcome obstacles,” she told the award recipients, noting that Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s top priority in defending the nation is to help quell the coronavirus pandemic.

These individuals defied all expectations of what’s possible to get done with efforts — on very short term timelines — that normally take months and years, she said, noting, “You have done it in days and weeks.”

The ceremony cited how the group, in fewer than 30 days, procured 500 million vaccines for the U.S. global vaccine donation mission for distribution to people in 92 low- and middle-income countries and the African Union in August. Additionally, more than 200 million vaccines were delivered to 112 countries by the end of 2021, and DOD is on track to deliver 50 million more doses by the end of this month.

“You have personally helped advance the health and welfare of people throughout the world, and that’s just astounding work,” the deputy secretary told them.

“I hope you really take to heart — in every day that you work these long hours and these unbelievable timelines — that you are part of saving lives,” she added. “This [effort] is taking enormous personal sacrifice. I’m well aware of the kinds of hours that you have spent at work away from family and friends, and the personal and professional sacrifices to other priorities that you’ve had to make as you log in all these hours. It is appreciated, and it’s directly contributing to the president’s and the secretary’s priorities and to global welfare.”

Biden’s letter reads:

“I am grateful for your contributions in our global fight against COVID-19. Putting an end to this pandemic at home and abroad remains my top priority, and vaccines are essential to getting this done.

“Because of your determination and hard work — performed at an unprecedented pace — we were able to negotiate critical vaccine purchases for donation, including to the poorest countries in the world, proving to our allies and partners that America is leading once again by the power of our example.

“Your efforts are not just saving lives — they are helping us get our lives back. Working together, we can usher in a healthier and more hopeful future, not just for our country, but for the world. Thank you for all that you do. It truly matters.”

The honorees, who each received the letter from Biden, are:

  • Defense Assisted Acquisition Team: Brent Ingraham, Marine Corps Col. Kevin Coughlin and Chantale Neira;
  • Army Contracting Command: Tom Dougherty and Hillary Roy;
  • Army Medical Research Command: Justin Coon and Denise Scott;
  • Army Acquisition Support Center: Joanne Abbott; and
  • Defense Acquisition University: Shannon Seay and Richard Brown.
Terri Moon Cronk, DOD News
Deputy Editor