Community is something that has always been very important to Lawrence Goins. Growing up in rural Michigan, he developed a deep appreciation for the great outdoors and an even greater appreciation for the people who made his small town a wonderful place to live. It is that same community spirit – a shared a dedication to the mission and to caring for our Soldiers and Families – that binds our civilian workforce together and makes him proud to be a part of the Fort Drum garrison, he said.
For his efforts in support of his fellow Employees, Goins, a supervisory management analyst with the Directorate of Resource Management and chief of the installation’s Manpower and Agreements Branch, was recently named 2017 Fort Drum Civilian of the Year.
When he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1985 at age 18, Goins looked forward to the opportunity to help others.
“My career was basically a human resources function,” he said. “I worked a myriad of different jobs – reenlistment, operations, manpower – all the behind-the-scenes actions that go into managing military careers.”
Since his first duty assignment at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, Goins has witnessed many transition periods in terms of military manpower. From the drawdown after the Gulf War to the expansion of the military in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Goins saw – firsthand – the effects of changing mission requirements on manpower.
In 1995, just months before he was to report to the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, Goins received word that he would instead be coming to Fort Drum.
“I thought – this is weird,” he said. “An Air Force guy at an Army post?”
Goins said he never imagined that he would spend half of his Air Force career stationed on an Army post, nor could he have anticipated the impact those 10 years would have on his life.
“I had never heard of the 20th Air Support Operations Squadron before,” he said. “At the time, they had about 100 airmen here at Fort Drum, and I was the only military personnel administrator, handling their assignments, reenlistments, reenlistment bonuses and performance appraisals.”
Although operating as a one-man shop was challenging, Goins said he enjoyed knowing that his work helped his fellow airmen advance and meet their career goals. As a member of a tenant unit, Goins also began to gain an understanding of the way in which different organizations and branches of the military worked interdependently toward a common goal.
As he approached the end of his 20th year in the Air Force, Goins said northern New York had begun to feel like home to him, his wife and their three boys. When his first sergeant’s wife told him about a vacancy at the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, he saw it as an opportunity to remain in the area and a part of Fort Drum Family. Goins applied for the job and began working for DPTMS in May 2005 – while he was still on terminal leave.
“My last day with the Air Force was on a Friday,” he recalled. “It was Memorial Day weekend, and I started working for DPTMS that following Tuesday. I retired from the Air Force in September.”
Working as an administrative services assistant, Goins put his experience in military personnel to good use.
“I was already familiar with personnel actions,” he said. “The challenge was in learning to do things according to the Army structure. Fortunately, having been stationed at Fort Drum for 10 years, I had already begun to gain an understanding of how the Army worked.”
One of his many roles at the organization was to maintain a working Table of Distributions and Allowances (TDA), tracking manpower and ensuring that resources were adequate to fulfill the organization’s missions.
Assisting in managing the TDA, as it turned out, would lay the groundwork for Goins as he transitioned to his next position – a management analyst for the Directorate of Resource Management – in 2007.
“In DRM, we manage the manpower resources that the garrison is allocated,” he said. “It’s a balancing act – making sure that mission standards are met with the resources we are allocated, while also being very conscious of taking care of our Civilian Employees.”
Goins said that the most rewarding aspect of his job as a management analyst was getting to meet people from the different directorates across post and gaining a better understanding of the mission of each organization.
“It was great to get to meet so many people and learn about what they do to support the mission,” he said. “It was also very challenging, because we were losing allocations every year.”
Goins said that it is hard on every member of the community when an allocation is taken away.
“You work alongside these people,” he said. “You know how committed they are to their work and what great people they are. The directors and the command staff recognize this, too, and they do not take it lightly when a job is taken from the TDA.”
In 2014, Goins was promoted to supervisory management analyst. This new role has provided him an opportunity to help guide directors in making the best manpower decisions possible.
“Installation Management Command provides the parameters that define how each organization is to function,” he said. “I work with these activities to help them shape their working document in order to succeed at their mission, while operating within those parameters.”
Goins said that while IMCOM is looking at the bigger picture – the number of allocations each garrison is provided – he, the directors and the command staff are equally committed to meeting the mission and to taking care of Fort Drum’s civilian workforce.
“They know that allocations are not just a bunch of ones and zeroes – they represent people, and they care deeply about these people and about their careers,” he said.
As Goins and members of the DRM team worked alongside staff members from the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center and the Directorate of Human Resources, Program Objective Memorandum FY 18-22 was approved.
“At that time, IMCOM identified an initiative called the Enterprise Restructure and Reorganization Initiative in order to help the Army complete its mission,” Goins said. “IMCOM was asked to identify an additional five percent cut beyond the allocations we were already losing.”
The difficulty, Goins said, was in identifying how to ensure the garrison was able to continue to provide excellent service in support in light of further manpower reductions.
“Even with all the changes that are coming our way, our Civilians are working hard to exceed standards,” he said. “I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that our command is constantly expressing their heartfelt appreciation for the workforce, and that appreciation extends beyond the mission. They take every opportunity they can to let our Civilian Employees know that they are valued and that their hard work does not go unnoticed.”
This dedication to taking care of the civilian workforce was the driving force behind establishing the Garrison Manpower Management Board – a team of leaders dedicated to coming up with new ways to manage the TDA and minimize the effects of lost allocations on the Employees.
Mark Hawes, director of resource management, said that there was no better person to represent DRM in this effort than Goins.
“In the ever-changing world of manpower, Goins is the right person to guide the garrison through numerous manning taskers,” he said. “He was a catalyst, and he is the driving force, behind the innovative Garrison Manpower Management Board.”
Hawes also pointed out that Goins maintains a keen awareness of the way in which manpower decisions that are made today will impact the future of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division (LI).
“Readiness is directly related to manpower,” he said. “Shaping the TDA is one of the most important jobs in the garrison, as it has a direct impact on service delivery now and in out-years.”
Employees who make up the board have worked tirelessly to assist Employees in transferring to vacant positions, and they have used a number of other initiatives to help reduce Fort Drum’s on-board strength, while ensuring the well-being of our Civilian Employees, Goins said.
“We have worked hard and have been very effective,” he said. “On July 1, when we started operating under the fiscal year 2019 TDA, we had about 100 over-hires. Now we are down to 49.”
Innovative strategies such as the widespread use of Local Internal Recruitments to transfer Civilians to vacant positions, combined with use of the Army’s Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment were an integral part of this reduction.
Goins said that in addition to tracking the current manpower parameters, one of his most important roles is to advocate for the Fort Drum garrison by ensuring that IMCOM is apprised of our specific missions and needs.
“One of the things we continually have to do is to be a voice for the garrison,” he said. “As mission or climate changes occur, we have to advocate for the garrison to higher headquarters, making them aware of what we need to succeed in these ever-changing missions.”
Goins was officially named 2017 Civilian of the Year during a ceremony held Feb. 7 at the Commons. He was lauded for his exceptional efforts and performance while focusing on “maintaining the readiness of the force” and serving as an advocate, adviser and liaison for the Fort Drum garrison.
Goins said he was humbled to have been recognized for his efforts, as he considers it an honor to be a part of caring for members of the civilian workforce. He credits those individuals who have supported and mentored him through the years – showing him what true dedication to the mission looks like.
“It was an honor to be nominated – let alone selected – as Civilian of the Year,” he said. “This award is not a reflection of me so much as it reflects all those who have poured into me – invested their time, experience and mentorship.”
Goins said he hopes to see manpower challenges decrease in the days to come, resulting in a more robust workforce. Until then, he said he remains committed to brainstorming new ways to care for his Fort Drum Family and the Civilians with whom he feels privileged to work.
“You’re always going to have new challenges,” he said. “There is always going to be some new guidance or emerging policy to direct you. We just have to continue to work through things and do the best that we can to meet the mission and take care of our Soldiers and Families.”