Government: Career Employees

The individuals in this category have dedicated their lives to public service. This category honors individuals who work tirelessly, often without recognition or reward, to serve the public good. Their work to support the veteran and military community is noticed and appreciated, and it is our honor to highlight them here.

Karen Durham-Aguilera, Arlington National Cemetery

For the past three years, Karen Durham-Aguilera has led Arlington National Cemetery as its Executive Director. ANC conducts up to 30 funerals a day, welcomes thousands of visitors each day, and hosts multiple national events each year – to include Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Ms. Durham-Aguilera’s leadership has instilled confidence, diligence and accountability, as her staff continues to serve veterans and their families during their most difficult times. 

In 2019, she worked closely with her staff to ensure proper dissemination of the Secretary of the Army’s proposed revised eligibility criteria and has played a vital role in the cemetery’s land management and engineering efforts.

@kdurhamaguilera

@arlingtonnatl

Lawrence Provost, National Cemetery Administration

Larry Provost currently serves as the outreach officer for the Department for the VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA).  While serving in this position Larry has expanded outreach to Veteran Service Organizations, funeral, religious, hospice, and palliative care partners to increase awareness regarding NCA benefits for veterans.  Larry, a member of the Virginia National Guard has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and received multiple awards for both his civilian and military accomplishments to include multiple Army Commendation Medals and the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs Virtual Aspiring Leaders Program. 

@VANatCemeteries

Beth Murphy, Compensation Service, Veterans Benefits Administration

Beth oversees VBA’s Compensation program, which delivers approximately $95 billion in disability compensation annually to about 5.3 million Veterans and their families.  She leads various highly-visible process improvement projects and programs that require internal and external collaboration such as the modernization and update of the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities; the Integrated Disability Evaluation System Program; and, a redesigned Pre-Discharge Program to shorten the gap between discharge and the first benefit payment. Beth was recently awarded the top award a civilian federal employee can receive, The Presidential Rank Award for her extraordinary accomplishments.

@VAVetBenefits

Laurine Carson, Compensation Service, Veterans Benefits Administration

Laurine is a 30 year employee with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and her professional background includes the successive career growth from clerical (GS-3) to Senior Executive Service (SES).  Laurine has served in several positions in which she is responsible for administrative rule-making, as well policy oversight and guidance that pertain to the compensation benefits program. Laurine is the recipient of several awards and recognitions, at the local and departmental levels, based on her outstanding performance. Her most recent distinguishing award was a VA Secretary’s Commendation for her outstanding work on VA’s Mental Health Initiative.

@VAVetBenefits

Charmain Bogue, Education Service, Veterans Benefits Administration

Ms. Charmain Bogue serves as the Executive Director of VBA’s Education Service. In this role, she provides executive leadership, oversight, guidance, and direction to Education Service staff, ensuring efficient execution of all education benefit programs used by nearly two million Veterans, Service members, and dependents. Prior to this appointment, Ms. Bogue served as the Deputy Director of Operations for Education Service, responsible for managing approximately 1,700 field employees and overseeing IT systems used to process claims related to all education programs. She also served as the Senior Project Management Officer for the implementation efforts for the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act (commonly referred to as the Forever GI Bill), which contain the most comprehensive changes to the GI Bill program since the creation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.

@VAVetBenefits

Emilio Fernandez, MSPM, PMP, Veterans Benefits Administration

As Director for Modernization & Process Improvement with VA’s Office of Business Process Integration, Emilio Fernandez is responsible for modernization engagements with VBA business lines. He implements industry best practices and the standardization of Project Management tools and processes within OBPI and as an example for the Enterprise. He serves as principal consultant in the planning, prioritization, and decision-making process for achieving strategic objectives of OBPI. In 2019, Emilio achieved two meaningful goals: 1) Exceptional execution of Program Integration Office framework and awarded critical contract to Accenture resulting in the successful delivery of the technical solution which had been reset from the previous year efforts for Colmery Act Sections 107 and 501; and 2) Exceptional execution of VR&E Modernization program, capabilities for which include Video Connect (capability for virtual counseling sessions with Veterans); e-VA Virtual Assistant (eliminating approximately 34,000 FTE hours of administrative work annually; IPPS e-Invoicing/e-Authorization (approximately 90% savings in invoice/payment processing time); and Case Management Service (CMS), a modern case management system. Emilio is also a Marine Corps veteran.

@VAVetBenefits

Robert C. Pearson, Jr., DC Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs

Robert Pearson joined the DC Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA) in October 2018, as its first District Veteran Service Officer (DVSO) advising and filing claims on behalf of the Districts’ 30,000 veterans and family members. Robert established the MOVA Claims and Services program, developed operating procedures, and ensured MOVA accreditation with the Federal Dept. of Veterans Affairs. During FY19, Robert completed 351 claims with a total compensation amount of $476,600, including $55K in retroactive payments for DC veterans.

Prior to serving as MOVA’s DVSO, Robert worked as a veteran service representative with the Hennepin County Veteran Services, Wounded Warrior Project, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. 

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Robert served in the US Army with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, deploying to Afghanistan in 2005. Robert lives in NW Washington with his wife, Amanda, and their dogs, Daisy and Mousse. A proud Georgetown Hoya, Robert takes pride in the DC community that has adopted him, and works tirelessly to serve veterans and families of our District.

@dc_ova