ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Every year, NCUA recognizes employees who go above and beyond, but this year, one employee recognized NCUA.
As NCUA was recognizing 59 employees for exemplary performance at its 22nd Annual Award Ceremony on May 15, one employee saluted the agency for allowing him to do his patriotic duty. Ron Jones is an economic development specialist with NCUA out of Chicago, but he is also an Army colonel in the reserves who recently returned from Iraq.
Jones had the opportunity to present a flag that had flown over the Al-Faw Palace at Camp Victory in Iraq, where he served for a year, to the agency. "In naming a recipient, I definitely wanted to recognize NCUA because they're a model supporter," he said. Jones said he had heard from fellow reservists that their employers were not always so understanding of their active deployments.
"I care extremely much about my career at NCUA," Jones said. He has worked for NCUA over the last 21 years and has been a reservist for 26 years. He acknowledged the work of other agency staff who had to "pick up the slack" while he was deployed and even sent him e-mails to stay in touch. As an economic development specialist, Jones works with small and low-income credit unions in putting together their strategic plans, getting low-income people into the economic mainstream, and generally helping credit unions "stir the economy."
"I want to express my sincere and deepest appreciation for the support NCUA has given me and the other reservists," he said. His 2006 tour in Iraq was Jones' third deployment after serving in Bosnia in 1995-96 and Kosovo in 2001.
"I don't have any war stories. I was assigned to headquarters. There was a need for economic development at the corps headquarters," Jones explained. In his work there, he helped to establish three microfinance enterprises and served as a civilian-military operations coordinator in Baghdad. He got two weeks of R&R over the year, which he took in Hawaii.
"The honor and gratitude goes to the foot soldiers," he stated. The conditions inside the "green zone" "started to go down hill when I left. I think it's worse now." When asked if he was glad to be back, Jones promptly replied, "Oh, God, yes."
After just returning to the United States in January this year, he is now focused on working with American micro-finance enterprises: one newly chartered credit union, Union Baptist Church Federal Credit Union in Fort Wayne, Ind., which just opened its doors last month, and another expected to open shortly.
However, Jones is still remaining very active in his military career as well, having recently started at the Army War College and serving as assistant chief of staff G3, basically an operations officer he explained, for the Civil Air Brigade.