The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, awarded by the Partnership for Public Service, have been given out now for 16 years to recognize amazing federal employees and their accomplishments in health research on cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s at the National Institutes of Health, plant and animal disease protection at the Department of Agriculture, containing the Ebola crisis in Africa, helping farmers and rural Americans on a daily basis, assisting our courageous military personnel perform their jobs more easily, and flat out saving taxpayers money.
I saw the dedication to service by these men and women first hand during my years as Secretary of Agriculture. Our brave firefighters at the Forest Service put their lives on the line every day to save people and their homes from dangerous and increasingly destructive forest fires. Our food safety personnel were successfully working, often with state and local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to prevent foodborne diseases like salmonella and e.coli from sickening or even killing consumers. And the research team at USDA works continuously to prevent plant and animal diseases from spreading worldwide, helping stave off food shortages and hunger.
Government isn’t perfect. Mistakes are made, and the high profile ones always find their way into the headlines. It is true that there is waste, fraud and abuse to be rooted out, even improper use of private aircraft at the Cabinet level. But overall, we can be proud of the exceptional service of the folks who work for the taxpayers of America on a daily basis. We should remind ourselves that the biggest lie is that the federal government doesn’t help Americans.