By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, CFM, CEM Commissioner, Past ASPEP President, Emergency Action Coordinator, Brazos River Authority, Waco, Texas
In Military Submissions, Part One (Oct. 2002 IAEM Bulletin), we discussed some suggestions and tips for documenting your military accomplishments in the areas of work history, experience, references and training. In this month’s tips article, we will discuss the areas of professional contributions and the emergency management essay.
Some of the contributions are easy for military personnel to achieve while others will take a little more work, but all are achievable by our men and women in uniform. The contributions that should not pose too much difficulty are membership, professional conference, speaking, publications, awards or special recognition, and legislative contact because much of what the military does is disaster and emergency management-related. Completing these six professional contributions meets certification requirements.
Some areas that may be a little difficult include special assignment, teaching, course development, and audio-visual and interactive products. The reason I say these are a little more difficult is because military personnel don’t normally have an opportunity to work in these areas. And when they do, it is an assigned duty. Therefore, the contribution does not meet the criteria of being beyond the scope of normal job responsibilities.
This is not to say these contributions cannot be achieved; they can. Just be sure the contributions are beyond your normal job responsibilities. One way to do this is to volunteer your services to the Red Cross, your church or your local community.
Humanitarian medals and achievement medals for emergency management-related activities may be used to receive credit in the awards category. So too, can your Letters of Achievement and Letters of Commendation.
Special skill identifiers or badges may be used to prove certification in emergency management. A couple of examples include the medical badge, senior or master EOD badge, and the “R” skill identifier. Others are acceptable too. Remember to explain how they relate to comprehensive emergency management in order to receive credit.
Legislative contact could be in the form of a regular letter, a post card, an e-mail or a personal visit to an elected official at the state or national level regarding a substantive disaster or emergency management issue. You can learn about these issues in the press, officer or non-commissioned officer association publications, the IAEM Bulletin, the IAEM Web site or the IAEM Listserv. Some current topics include the annual budget appropriations, homeland defense and the war on terrorism.
When you contact your elected official, you don’t have to use your military rank and position. You may use your name and civilian address if you prefer. The point here is to take a stand and support an issue or ask your elected official to help defeat a particular bill. Don’t forget to include a copy of a written reply or acknowledgement from your elected official to receive credit.
IAEM offers numerous opportunities to achieve seven different professional contributions. Membership is one opportunity, but so is writing for the Bulletin, giving presentations at the annual conference (a two-for-one deal), serving on a committee, leading a committee and receiving a media award.
IAEM committee work should not pose a problem since most committee work is accomplished through virtual meetings, e-mail, teleconferences and phone calls. Face-to-face meetings usually occur during the mid-year workshop and the annual conference, so don’t let your military job prevent you from volunteering to serve. You can even serve as chair of a committee while on active duty. Your leadership and management skills will be very useful and will serve you well on any committee of your choosing.
Military personnel should be able to complete the essay requirement without difficulty because planning for disasters and emergencies is a routine procedure. The difficulty is deciding what to write about.
The essay requires that you provide a detailed description of how you would design, develop and implement a disaster or emergency management system for your organization. It doesn’t matter which type of organization you choose to work with, and it doesn’t matter what type of system you choose to design. The commissioners want you to be creative, cover all four phases of emergency management, and demonstrate your mastery of the knowledge, skills and abilities criteria listed in your application packet.
Here are a few examples of different types of systems that military personnel may be familiar with and might choose to write about.
You may choose to write about interoperable communications systems or mobile medical support. The system’s topics are limited only by your imagination.
Don’t write an SOP on how to do the technical portions of the systems listed above. The commissioners don’t want to know the details of the response teams and the procedures they will use. Write about the system and the emergency management responsibilities. The operative word here is “management.” Use the same process and essay format that was described in earlier CEM Corner articles.
Just as with other candidates for the CEM, proper documentation is the key for military applications too. Provide explanatory notes and corroborating documentation for any discrepancies or potentially confusing areas in your application packet. When in doubt, provide more explanatory documentation rather than less. The documentation helps the commissioners to more fully understand your claims. Proper and complete documentation will speed up the review process and should result in a positive recommendation for award of your CEM.
One caution to remember – do not include any classified information in your application packet or essay. Many commissioners had security clearances in their previous jobs. Some may even have current clearances. However, the commissioners do not have a need to know, nor do they have proper storage facilities for classified information. So keep your packets unclassified.
IAEM Bulletin, November 2002
AEM® and CEM® are registered trademarks of the International Association of Emergency Managers.