USAMMDA Bids Farewell to Sharon Walters
At the end of May, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity bid a fond farewell to Sharon Walters, as she retired after more than four decades of federal civilian service. Beginning her career in 1978 as a clerk-stenographer with the National Institutes of Health, she spent a decade serving the NIH's Bethesda, Maryland, campus in various roles within its National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke, National Cancer Institute, and National Institute of Mental Health. In the spring of 1988, Walters joined USAMMDA's Pharmaceutical Systems Project Management Division, which launched her 32-year association with the organization.
As one of four siblings, Walters was born in Bethesda and raised in Rockville, Maryland. She recounted her days at Colonel Zadok Magruder High School, where she focused on a business track that included typing, shorthand and accounting. Her academic training served her quite well, as she was fortunate to enter the federal civilian workforce at NIH the year following her graduation.
"Being a federal civilian wasn't something that I thought about when I was young, but I guess you can say that I followed my education path straight from high school," said Walters.
Although Walters began working at the NIH campus in Bethesda in 1978, she moved to the Frederick area in 1981. After the birth of her two sons in the mid-1980s, she realized the commute was too difficult to maintain, and she began searching for positions at Fort Detrick.
"In 1988, I was living in Frederick and caring for our young sons, who were four-years old and eight-months old at the time," she explained. "I found that working in Bethesda every day was just too much traveling, and it did not allow me enough time at home with my boys."
Fortunately, Walters joined USAMMDA's Pharmaceutical Systems team in May of 1988, and her days of commuting "down the road" were over. Little did she know that her initial position would lead to numerous promotions within the organization – and wonderful friendships that would last a lifetime.
Throughout her USAMMDA career, Walters has spent the majority of her years as a member of the Medical Support Systems Project Management Office, which is now the Warfighter Health, Performance and Evacuation PMO. She wraps up her 42 years of federal civilian service as a Management Analyst for the WHPE PMO, and she will be missed by all throughout the organization.
Looking back over her lengthy career, Walters recalled the early days when she arrived at Fort Detrick.
"The organization has changed so much since I came to USAMMDA 32 years ago," she said. "When I came in 1988, we were in a temporary building where Building 693 now stands. Everyone welcomed me into the fold with open arms. We were just a small organization, and you knew everyone, just like a family. They helped me through some difficult times in my life, including a divorce, health issues and the death of my father."
"The organization has grown so much now, you mostly see only those few people that you work with on a daily basis," she added.
Over the years, Walters has received numerous awards for her outstanding work at USAMMDA. She was also acknowledged for her federal civilian service in 1982, when she was honored with a Recognition and Appreciation of Special Achievement award by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, from the National Institutes of Health. Of special note, in January 2009, Walters was recognized for her exceptional performance when she served as USAMMDA's team leader responsible for coordinating with the U.S. Army Medical Information Technology Center to implement the Automated Time and Attendance Payroll System within the organization.
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Army Col. Gina Adam, USAMMDA commander, offered words of praise and encouragement with regard to Walters' upcoming retirement after her four decades of federal civilian service.
"To see a civilian teammate retire after 42 years of service is really remarkable," said Adam. "Sharon's dedication to serving the Nation through her time at USAMMDA is truly outstanding, and we are so grateful for her time and commitment, and wish her all the best in her retirement."
Having worked with military personnel throughout her civilian career, Walters said she is very proud of her family's history of military service. Her father, brother, and one cousin served in the Navy, and her maternal grandfather served in World War II. Both her father and mother were interred at Arlington National Cemetery, which is considered our nation's most historic and hallowed ground.
As she begins her retirement, Walters says she will miss all of the friendships and acquaintances she has made over the years, in particular her teammates from the WHPE PMO. However, she certainly has many more enjoyable times in store for her future.
"In the years ahead, I am looking forward to spending time with my husband," said Walters. "We like riding our motorcycle, traveling, and watching NASCAR races on the weekends. I am also looking forward to working on our house, doing more gardening and yardwork, and playing with our dog Harley."
Although Walters is looking forward to the upcoming years and the exciting times ahead, she remains grateful to all of her many co-workers. For most, retirement provides a chance to look back over a career and recall the many shining moments – and people – that made life special. For others, it provides an opportunity to create new plans for carefree adventures with friends and family.
And for some, such as Sharon Walters, it can provide both.
"I have made many friends and acquaintances over my 32 years at USAMMDA, that I will cherish always," said Walters. "But in my retirement, I definitely will not miss the work."
The entire USAMMDA team wishes Ms. Walters only the best in her retirement, and she can rest assured that her work for the organization will always be appreciated.
USAMMDA is a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, under the Army Futures Command. As the premier developer of world-class military medical capabilities, USAMMDA is responsible for developing and delivering critical products designed to protect and preserve the lives of Warfighters across the globe.