DMA hosts orientation for new employees

Virginia Department of Military Affairs new employees receive certificates after completing New Employee Orientation at Fort PIckett, Virginia. (Contributed photo)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia Department of Military Affairs hosted five new employees for a quarterly New Employee Orientation Class Sept. 1, 2020, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. Four new state employees and one Virginia National Guard Soldier on Active Duty for Operational Support orders attended the course. 

The orientation is a one-day course hosted by DMA leadership including retired Brig. Gen. Walt Mercer, the DMA chief operations officer, and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Tim White, the DMA instructor and trainer. The goal of the program is to not only cover the administrative aspects of in-processing new state workers, but also to help familiarize them with the agency and its organization. 

According to the DMA Workforce Planning best practices, the course “not only covers

basic Human Resources, benefits, pay and other procedures and policies, but also teaches the new staff about the agency and its mission, funding, and structure.” That added level of instruction about the new workers’ new agency and their role in its operation is critical to a new employee’s success. 

Generally this course hosts between 25 and 30 new employees, but that number was reduced for this class because of COVID-19. 

“Whether it’s 30 or just five new employees, it’s important for the leadership to ensure new employees feel like they are a part of the organization and have ownership,” said White. 

Additional precautions were put into place for the orientation because of COVID-19, helping ensure the safety of all new employees in attendance. 

“With COVID-19 restrictions, DMA took all precautions for safe training including a larger room, masks, social distancing and hand wipes,” said White. “ We limited the number of personnel in the building, performed temperature checks prior to entering the building and had the DMA safety and occupational health manager Rebecca Moses on hand to provide oversight and to instruct safety measures.” 

During the program, Maj. Gen. Timothy Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, welcomed the new additions before Mercer and White overviewed VNG leadership and discussed ethics and missions. After HR and benefits introductions, White and Rebecca Moses, the state safety and occupational health manager for DMA, discussed occupational safety and COVID-19 precautions. 

Later in the course, Col. Paul Gravely, the Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett garrison commander, gave an overview of the installation, where most of DMA’s state employees work. This was followed by a brief on other DMA programs and organizations, including the Virginia Defense Force, The Virginia Beach-based Commonwealth ChalleNGe and the Winchester-based STARBASE Academy. 

The added level of instruction about the new workers’ new agency and their role in its operation is critical to a new employee’s success, said White. 

“This course continues to be a priority for the Department of Military Affairs,” said White. “This is evident when the Adjutant General, MTC post commander and command sergeant major attend each course to welcome new state employees.”