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Award-Winning Physical Therapist at Walter Reed on Why He Loves His Job

You’ve heard of the Oscars, the Grammys and the Emmy’s, but what about the Sammys?

These awards were created 11 years ago to honor the very best public servants in the federal government. Under the leadership of the non-profit “Partnership for Public Service,” founded by philanthropist Samuel Heyman in 2001, a handful of federal workers have been recognized each year for their outsized contribution to their country.

Thursday night, the nine 2012 medals were handed out at a dinner in Washington, and each was more impressive than the last.

– There was James Cash, chief technical adviser for the National Transportation Safety Board, who has spent more than 30 years investigating plane — and two space shuttle — accidents to try to determine what went wrong so that mistake won’t be made again.

  • Dr. Neal Young, who specializes in bone marrow disorders at the National Institutes of Health, designed a treatment for a formerly fatal disease, aplastic anemia.

  • Drug Enforcement Agent Louis Milione, who led the effort to track down and prosecute one of the world’s most notorious arms traffickers, known as the “Merchant of Death.”

  • And Susan Angell and Mark Johnston, of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department Housing and Urban Development, respectively, who jointly tackled the high rate of homelessness among American military veterans, managed to bring it down, and plan to keep going until it’s eliminated.

In an era when much of the political discussion about federal employees is over how they are wasting taxpayer dollars, this is a bracing reminder of the sacrifices they make for the American people. You can’t hear of their accomplishments and not be impressed.

I sat down with one award winner, Chuck Scoville, a doctor of physical therapy, who runs the clinic at Walter Reed Army Hospital where recent amputees receive help and support to adjust to their new circumstances. He told me that out of almost 1,500 injured service members who’ve been through his program, more than 300 have gone back into military service. Many of the others have been able to compete in sports.

As you see in our interview, Scoville loves his work. He and the other medalists all talk about giving back to their country; each is antidote to the stereotype painted by critics of the federal bureaucracy. And there are many more like them, who get no recognition at all.

Follow Judy Woodruff on Twitter.

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