'Privileged to serve': Commissary employee from Rock Island honored at DOD Disability Award Ceremony
FORT LEE, Va. – Christopher Carpenter, a commissary employee at the Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, Commissary, received an Outstanding Employee with a Disability Award Oct. 3 in the Pentagon.
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper hosted the award ceremony for Carpenter and other outstanding awardees with disabilities, including 23 military personnel, during the 2019 Secretary of Defense Disability Awards ceremony.
“It felt really amazing to win this award,” said Carpenter, a teller and customer service ambassador at the Rock Island Commissary. “I was on the stage with all of these amazing people, and the presenter, Under Secretary of Defense Mr. James Stewart, who is a commissary patron, made me feel especially proud and honored.”
Carpenter, who earlier in the year was named the Defense Commissary Agency’s (DeCA) Disabled Employee of the Year for 2019, said his goal every day is to make the customer happy.
“The commissary is like one big family to me, and it gives me a lot of happiness,” he said. “When I have the opportunity to serve our customers, it really makes me feel good. For example helping them get what they want; sometimes ordering it by the case to save them money.
“It is also a two-way street, sometimes with the challenges of the registers, POS (point of sale) terminals, and computers, the customers reassure and remind me again how much we appreciate and are thankful for all that they do and have done to protect our freedoms and safety. Being in the commissary I realize how privileged I am to be serving the men and women past, present and future of our military.”
Carpenter, who first worked for Army Troop Support Agency in 1988, began his commissary career in 1991, as a clerk/typist. He has profound bilateral hearing loss of 75%. Since his first assignment, Carpenter has worked his way up from quality assurance evaluator, customer service/sales store checker lead and store worker to his current position as teller and customer service ambassador.
When not working his duties as teller and customer service ambassador, Carpenter is actively involved in programs that exhibit the commissaries’ commitment to the military community. He has organized and conducted the Scholarship for Military Children ceremony, organized the store’s Healthy Lifestyle Fest, acted as the primary representative at newcomers’ briefings for the installation, as well as acted as the store POC for community and base outreach events.
“You see, outreach is important to me and has always been,” he said. “As a customer and employee of the commissary, I relish the opportunity to sell the benefit. It is for this reason that I will always be the first to volunteer for outreach opportunities.”
Carpenter also represents the commissary at many social functions such as job fairs, community events, fairs and festivals.
“Christopher is an inspiration and a mentor to others in DeCA, and he is well-liked and respected by all he comes in contact with,” said Carpenter’s store director Kelly Brody. “It is his positive outlook on life, his personality, hard-work ethic and daily choices to make our customers happy, that many say are major reasons they shop the commissary.”
Photo caption: Christopher Carpenter (center) poses for a photograph with Undersecretary of Defense James Stewart (left) and DeCA Central Area Director Ronald Yoder (right). Carpenter received the Outstanding Employee with a Disability Award Oct. 3 in the Pentagon. (DOD photo)
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.