At the start of my time with Jefferson County, I had no idea what to expect working in local government.  My background in the military equipped me to lead, direct, and coach new recruits and mid-level managers.  I was well versed in logistics, transportation, maintenance and warehouse management, but had little understanding of local government and the skill sets required to serve the people of Jefferson County. 

What I quickly learned about local government was, it is very similar to the mission we perform in the military. At the beginning of each cohort, every fellow receives a mentor.  My mentor, Don Davis, the county manager and a retired Marine Colonel, said to me the first week on the job that “serving in local government is an extension of the job we held in the military.  Instead of performing the military mission of defending freedom, the job in local government is simply to promote the freedoms our military worked so hard to defend.”

Each Monday morning, Don spends about half an hour delivering these visions, values and goals to all new employees assigned to the county; hammering home the reason local government exists.   Strangely enough, the vision, values, and goals for the county are uniquely aligned with our own in the military.  “To promote the health and well-being of the Jefferson County community and the stewardship of its resources.”  Wow, Don was right!!

After a week of being introduced to the staff, attending numerous boards and meetings, and learning the day to day battle rhythm, I was given my first project.  It centered around a Point in Time Survey to identify the homeless, specifically the Veterans, in Jefferson County.  Our team was made up of members of the Human Services Division along with other non-governmental organizations within the community.   The survey was conducted over a 24-hour period with outreach teams deployed to locations throughout the community.  I worked alongside another fellow in the program, Commander Craig Bennett, US Navy, to help survey locations that were known to have a high percentage of Veterans.

Many of the cities within Jefferson County hosted magnet events to attract the local homeless population.  These events allowed the community to provide food, shelter and much needed care while giving the volunteers an opportunity to conduct surveys to better understand the needs of the homeless population.

The exposure I received to Veteran, faith-based, and private organizations were invaluable to understanding the overall picture on how community attacks problems like homelessness, unemployment, mental health, adoption, aging population and much more.  Most importantly, it allowed me a way to stay connected to a community and provide a level of service to others.  I am extremely grateful for this fellowship and look forward to telling others about the great opportunities the VLGMF program provided to me.

Just like our time deployed in various parts of the world, either running a Forward Operating Base, leading a Transition Team, or developing relationships with a tribal leader, local government uses those basic skills to enable the building blocks for the success of our nation here at home.

Author:  LTC Timothy Haylett is an active duty Logistics officer currently serving with the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.  Tim has served 21 years in various positions oversees to include multiple deployments to Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Kuwait.  He recently commanded the Army Field Service Battalion-Kuwait.  He is married to his college sweetheart Wendy for over 20 years and has one daughter Emma who is currently in 9th Grade.    

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