In celebration of IT Appreciation Day, several OIT employees discuss their connection to our mission and the support they provide to our nation’s Veterans
David Anderson is a Director of Operations in IT Operations and Services serving in Territory Four in the Midwest District. Also, he formerly served as the Area Manager for the VA Kansas City Area.
Mark LeSabre Campbell is an administrative assistant in IT Operations and Services. Mr. Campbell is a Marine Corps Veteran who has served IT the Central Texas Veterans Health Care system as an Administrative Specialist for twelve years.
Patrice Luneski is a Management Analyst in IT Operations and Services, where she is part of the End User Operations Business Services Team. Ms. Luneski is the team lead for End User Operations communications and manages the organization’s virtual quarterly town halls. She has been with the Office of Information and Technology since 2015.
Richard Marble is an IT Specialist in the Enterprise Program Management Office. After spending 26 years in the United States Air Force, he’s made a career leading training design, implementation, and strategic development. Mr. Marble has been working with the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2015, where he currently manages the Integrated Product Environment and Community Administration of Vaccine Encounters projects and leads the Development, Security, and Operations and Automation initiatives for the Community Care Product Line. He is also a Senior Strategic Specialist for the Health Portfolio Product Management Team.
Jon Russell is an IT Specialist in the Office of Information and Technology’s Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO). Jon worked as a contractor Senior Functional Software Tester and 508 Trusted Tester at Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA.gov) before joining VA in 2018 in EPMO’s Software Testing 508 Division, where he assists the team with 508 Compliance Auditing, serves as Contracting Officer’s Representative for 508 License Tools Contracts, and assists the 508 Tools Team as Tier 2 technical support.
What do you enjoy most about your work in OIT?
Anderson: I enjoy the opportunity to inspire and lead talented IT professionals to give their best every day.
Campbell: The fact that OIT is a wonderful place to work, and our leadership team at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System is diverse and understanding. With all that time committed to a job, it’s clear that it is important for employees to be in love with their work and workplace environment. When employees love their jobs, a culture of trust emerges across the entire organization. Employees want to feel appreciated and know that their contributions matter.
Luneski: Working with my awesome team! We have a truly fabulous finance team in End User Operations Business Services. We are always there to support each other whenever needed.
Marble: “Few things in life are worth more than work worth doing.” I’ve paraphrased from Theodore Roosevelt. The work that we do has an incredible impact to our Veterans. We may not be interacting with Veterans each day like our providers, but we provide the tools to support providers. Knowing that we help provide that support is what makes work at OIT work worth doing.
Russell: The opportunity to assist non-sighted users of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) applications, such as the Blind Veterans Association (BVA).
What motivates you to work in a mission-driven federal organization?
Campbell: I have always worked within the information technology field, even when I was in the Marine Corps, and furthering my education after retirement by obtaining a certificate in computer building and configuration and a certified computer service technician with a fiber optics license.
Anderson: Seeing tools we provide, support, and maintain help our business partners provide an enhanced Veteran Experience motivates me.
Luneski: Knowing that our work directly supports VHA staff who provide care to our Veterans.
Russell: The fact that [our Veterans] sacrificed to serve our country in the military. John 15:13. No greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jose N. Harris wrote, “I am a Veteran, as are most of my personal friends. A Veteran is someone, who at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, and including, their life.”
What is a memorable or favorite story you’d like to share about your work in OIT?
Marble: I was once given a requirement to load up 2,000 users in a new system. I asked the team what needed to be done and to get the timeline for inserting the records into the system. The team told me three people and two weeks for elaboration, development, and testing of the code. I then asked them how long would it take if they just manually typed it in using the user interface; they reluctantly replied that it would not be fun and it was a waste of their skills but it could be done in a day. They told me that if they built the code it would be available if we ever needed to do it again. I responded that in this case it was not worth the resources to build it but I thanked them coming up with a solution so quickly.
Luneski: In 2017, when the Regions transitioned into Districts, I was moved to the End User Operations Business Services Finance Team and the core group of us became close and banded together to meet our mission.
Russell: Every day is an interesting challenge in the Enterprise Program Management Office’s Software Testing 508 Division.
Campbell: The way automation has taken over all administrative task. My job workload has decreased tremendously. I find enjoyment in my work. Doing so is very valuable to my life in many ways, including greatly increasing my probability of financial success. Being the first person to greet both employees and customers, I let them know that they are loved, and I attempt to put a smile on their faces showing them they matter and are loved; overall it is my job, which I enjoy every day — all aspects of it. I'm often told my comments make them happy, and I respond that loving my work, where I spend most of my waking hours, motivates me! I always greet my Area Manager, Mr. Victor Vitolas, whom I've personally worked for 8 of the 12 years with a warm greeting and let him know that his good work brings fulfillment, and we all have a purpose.
Anderson: I recall one day sitting at my desk as Area Manager of Kansas City getting a call and the area code was 202, so I thought, “Who’s calling me from Washington D.C.? I answered the phone with curiosity and the person on the other end said, “David, this is James Gfrerer, the new CIO. I’m coming to Kansas City and I don’t want you to tell anyone I’m coming.” I replied, “Not even my supervisor?” Having had many people pass through Kansas City, since this is where Cerner is headquartered, I simply asked him when he would be arriving. He shared his dates, and I was faced with a conundrum. Do I tell my boss, who has since retired, that his boss’s, boss’s, boss’s, boss’s, boss’s boss was coming to town or even the medical center director that we were going to be having a newly appointed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Assistant Secretary showing up? The visit went well, and I was encouraged by him not only this time, but also when he visited St. Louis and went out to dinner with our entire Manager’s Edge class. Mr. Gfrerer believed in the mission of OIT and it inspired me to share his passion and encourage other’s in a similar manner.
How does OIT support the work VA does to care for our nation’s Veterans?
Luneski: We make things possible by supplying the computers for the providers to provide and document care.
Russell: Automated VA benefits for Veterans via Development, Security, and Operations, Agile, and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).
Anderson: The world — and especially VA — runs on endpoints, from computers to mobile phones. Working remotely, in a medical center, or regional office, VA staff need the correct tool to provide the care or benefits that Veterans have been promised. End User Operations is uniquely positioned to ensure these endpoints are where they need to be, when they need to be there and working as required.
Marble: Every time a VA employee uses a keyboard, mouse, or touch screen we are doing our part to support them.
Campbell: We support all the caregivers that currently telework and conduct virtual business for those that are unable to do in-person visits. We owe an immeasurable debt to our Veterans, to the fallen, and to the families who love them. Just as our servicemen and women have taken care of us, we must also take care of them. It is our sacred duty as a country to be there for our heroes when they need us most. The Bible tells us: If you owe debts, pay debts; if honor, then honor; if respect, then respect. The debt our nation owes those who've worn the uniform is a debt we will never be able to fully repay. Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System doesn’t have that problem. Oorah, and Semper Fidelis!
Are you a Veteran? Do you have a connection to a Veteran? If so, how does that connection shape the service you provide?
Russell: Yes. I served in the United States Navy as an E-4 from 1990–1998.
Anderson: I served in the Air Force and I worked in aircraft armament. The attention to detail I learned as a young airman I believe helped to shape who I am and the service that I provide.
Marble: I am a Veteran of the United States Air Force, retired. I didn't think I would ever work for the government after I retired, but after working in the commercial sector for several years I found myself in a position to bring what I learned in the commercial sector back to the government. I am glad to return to service!
Luneski: No, but I am the proud descendant of four war Veterans from Vietnam, WWII, Civil War, and the Revolutionary War. As the daughter of a 100 percent service-connected, disabled Vietnam Veteran, I spent many days at my father’s bedside at the Portland VA Medical Center Intensive Care Unit, so I know firsthand that what VA does matters. In addition to top notch medical care, every nurse, doctor, nursing assistant, janitorial assistant, canteen assistant, and any VA employee who takes the time to kindly offer a smile, a laugh, assistance with directions, or accompanies you somewhere in the medical center so you don’t get lost makes a huge impact on Veterans and their families.
Our commitment to digital and IT transformation is shaped by daily dedication to customer service and the close collaboration of our workforce, managers, and leaders. Ready to join us in improving Veterans’ care? Check out all current information and technology career opportunities on DigitalVA. You can also contact VA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer at 512-326-6600, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by submitting a resume to VACareers@va.gov.