Tax Center recognizes, awards volunteers

Fort Meade Staff Judge Advocate Lt. Col. Tyesha Smith thanks service members and civilian volunteers for their work at the Joint Installation Tax Center during an awards ceremony held April 26 at the Fort Meade courtroom. (Photo by Maddie Ecker)

After serving over 1,200 taxpayers, the civilian and military volunteers of the Joint Installation Tax Center received recognition for their efforts at an awards ceremony held April 26 at the Fort Meade courthouse.

“I don’t know about you all, but it seems like just yesterday we were doing the ribbon-cutting ceremony,” said Lt. Col. Tyesha Smith, the Fort Meade staff judge advocate. “Four months really flew by.”

Smith spoke about the professionalism, knowledge and respect the volunteers brought to their role at the Tax Center.

“The first thing I found remarkable is just the sheer number of individuals that you all assisted,” she said. “It really dawned on me that you all had the opportunity [to help a] number of individuals … over the last four months.

“What’s even more remarkable to me than the sheer number of folks that you all assisted, was that they were pleased.”

Smith said that the Tax Center had received over 300 Interactive Customer Evaluation comments about their 2017 services.

“Every one of them was positive,” she said. “That’s unheard of. That’s just really a true testament to everything that you all did.

“We formed a tight-knit, cohesive, highly functioning team and it was evident not only to me, but to our clients as well as the IRS.”

Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard thanked and congratulated the volunteers.

“Thanks for what you’re doing to help out all the family members, all the service members and all of the civilians that have come through,” he said.

Rickard said that at the beginning of his service in the Army, he also was assigned to be a tax preparer.

“It turned out to be a rewarding experience,” he said. “I got to help a lot of people. A lot of people are pretty nervous when they come to talk to you, you know the feeling. They’re very worried … [but] you help calm them down and you actually make their lives better.

“So thank you for making people’s lives better. You really did an excellent job.”

Getting Recognized

The Staff Judge Advocate’s Certificate of Appreciation was presented to the following service members: Pfc. Jeffrey Dickinson, Pfc. Pedro Morales, Pfc. Keajana Robinson, Sgt. Carl Vigil and Pfc. Alexis Kwamin.

The appreciation award also was presented to civilian volunteers: Michelle Brittingham, Steve Rodriguez-Ruiz, Yosefi Seltzer, Shana Tinsley and Jan Westenberg.

The Army Achievement Medal was presented to Airman 1st Class Silas Banner, Airman 1st Class Daniel Christie, Pfc. Thomas Doyle, Sgt. Christopher Juarez, Spc. Kenaysia Morris, Tech. Sgt. Anke Roesler-Vance, Senior Airman Thomas Ryan, Pfc. Joshua Sturgill and Airman 1st Class Patrick Turlington.

Smith gave Brittingham her personal coin to thank her for her dedication to the success of the Tax Center.

Rickard presented the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service to Tasha McWhite and Shaida Farid, the supervisory tax attorney.

“We really, really had a great team,” Farid said. “It was a valuable experience for all.”

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