With Memorial Day around the corner, we’ve been thinking a lot about the veterans we work with every day, especially the dedicated men and women who help motivate their fellow government workers to give back to our community.
One of these inspiring figures is Amy Hammond – a San Antonio native, who retired from the Air Force two years ago and currently works as part of the Veterans Benefits Administration. Last year, Amy learned about UWATX’s work, specifically the Navigation Center, and was so impressed, she chose to give back to support our efforts. In the following months, Amy has joined the local committee to help lead the Central Texas Combined Federal Campaign, the Employee Giving Campaign that provides federal employees with the opportunity to support their local communities through payroll deduction donations.
What motivated you to go into the Air Force? What are you most proud of in your Air Force career?
I was born into an Air Force family and I’m sure that had something to do with me following that path; however, at the time I joined the Air Force I was simply looking for a means to pay for my undergraduate degree. The Air Force paid for four years of my college via a scholarship and then I paid the Air Force back by committing to four years of service. Somewhere along the way, the Air Force became so much more to me, it became a calling to serve and I ended up staying for 25 years.
The things I’m most proud of in my career aren’t found on my annual appraisals. I’m very proud of taking care of the men and women and their families that I worked with. One example sticks out in my mind: I remember getting a phone call from a distraught wife after she had just been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Her husband had just deployed to Iraq ten days earlier. She had three small children at home. We had her husband home within 24 hours. That’s an amazing feeling…seeing a need and helping fill that need.
Another example is my deployment to Iraq. I volunteered to go – within two short weeks of being notified, I was on a plane flying to the Middle East leaving behind a very supportive husband with three young children. I was drawn to go partly because I was heartsick at the way women were treated in that part of the world. I wanted Iraqi women (and Iraqi men for that matter) to see a woman in a leadership position. You never know how the seeds you plant in a person’s mind will grow.
Why did you choose to move to the Veterans Bureau Administration? How do you see your role in this position?
I was really drawn to the VA mission—taking care of our Veterans. What better way to give back then to work for the agency charged with taking care of our Vets, their families and survivors? I see my role in this position as a leader, mentor and facilitator. The team does an outstanding job providing accounting services to all the VA Regional Offices around the country. While we don’t often interact with Veterans directly, we play a vital role in supporting those personnel and offices that do interact with them on a daily basis.
What has inspired you about UWATX’s work?
One big thing that inspired me about UWATX is the people that work there. They are incredibly focused, dedicated, and talented. Every time I interact with them I learn something new. I am also impressed by their selfless dedication to making our community a better place. It’s quite humbling being around them.
What inspired you to get involved with Combined Federal Campaign? What’s been the most rewarding part? What’s been the most challenging?
You know I’ve been involved in CFC in one form or fashion my entire life. My father always contributed when I was growing up and then when I joined the Air Force I followed in his footsteps.
As a new lieutenant, I worked as a key worker and was involved in CFC at the unit level. As a Commander, later in my career, I was responsible for kicking off the campaign and motivating people to participate.
Since arriving in Austin, I was invited to serve on the Local Federal Coordinating Committee (LFCC). I went to a few meetings and knew this was something I wanted to be a part of – I wanted to be more involved in our community and the need right here in Central Texas. The most rewarding part has been not only seeing the dedicated men and women in the federal government volunteering their time but also working with UWATX and learning how everything comes together to make a difference in peoples’ lives. A lot goes on behind the scenes – it’s quite an orchestrated effort.
“I have a passion for service to our community. I honestly believe that I’m on this earth to see the need in others and then, if I’m able, to try to help fill that need. Honestly I’m happiest when I’m serving others.”
– Amy Hammond,
The most challenging part has been, in spite of all the hard work, seeing the downward trend in federal employee giving over the past few years. I hope I can make a difference and possibly turn that around in our area.
Serving in the Air Force and being involved in philanthropy both have elements of service to the community. Is that something that you have a general passion for? How do you see the role of service in your life?
Absolutely, I have a passion for service to our community. “Serving” is something my mom and dad instilled in me and my siblings at a very young age. It’s something the Air Force definitely stressed since it is one of their core values – ”service before self”.
I honestly believe that I’m on this earth to see the need in others and then, if I’m able, to try to help fill that need. I’m also very drawn to the needs of women. I feel that as a woman walking this earth I’ve been incredibly blessed. I’ve been given so much. I’m fortunate to have been born in America, to have the love of a good man and to have access to amazing education opportunities and mentors—all which have helped me along my path to success. So now, it’s my responsibility to serve and give back. Honestly I’m happiest when I’m serving others.
How long have you been in Austin? What do you like most about this city?
Even though I was an Air Force “Brat” and moved around quite a bit as a young child, I consider myself a Texas Girl at heart. I grew up in San Antonio and then left to pursue my own Air Force career. So after all these years, I’m finally back–in Texas.
We’ve been in Austin for just over a year now. I feel fortunate to live and work in this amazing town. The eclectic and entrepreneurial vibe of Austin and the people really resonate with me and my family. We love the commitment to local businesses. We love the music. We love the food trucks. We love the bike trails and green space. We love the schools. It’s a superb place to live and raise a family. I also really like the state and city pride that are so evident here. After moving our family around all these years, living in several different states and more than a few foreign countries, when my husband and I were looking for a place to finish raising our family, we knew Austin Texas was the place for us.
What makes Austin greater for you?
I think it’s great that the American Dream is alive and well in our Austin. You can come from very humble beginnings work hard to start something and rise up to be very successful in Austin. Examples are everywhere, especially in the music, food, and IT arena. This aspect alone gives our city a lot of energy and hope and that’s very contagious. I’m glad to be a part of it.