As we culminate our 80th anniversary celebration and end 2015, I find myself reflecting on our accomplishments. As part of the recognition of our 80th anniversary celebration, we asked our employees to share their stories of why they serve. A recurring theme was: I serve because I enjoy working with the public providing services that matter. Touched by this sentiment, I also looked back over my career and the reasons why I serve.
I have said many times that Social Security touches the lives of nearly everyone in this great nation, often during times of personal hardship, transition, and uncertainty. I’m not only speaking as the Acting Commissioner of Social Security but as someone who has also been on the receiving end. In several instances, Social Security provided support for members of my family.
When my brother was diagnosed with a disability, Social Security provided him the financial and medical support to live independently. Today, I am grateful my brother has a decent quality of life because of the benefits he receives and his access to healthcare. When my mother was ill in her later years, her retirement benefits, and support from our family helped to cover her living expenses and healthcare. The help she received from our agency enabled her to have a good quality of life.
I also felt the support of the SSA family when my son died at 34, leaving behind four small children. The agency embraced me in ways I cannot describe and helped me through a very difficult time in my life. Survivor benefits provided strong financial support for his children after the devastating loss of their father.
I have worked in public service for many years. Throughout my entire career, I have never seen employees provide services in a more caring and compassionate way than our employees. During my tenure as Acting Commissioner of Social Security, I have given many 30-, 40-, and 50-years of service pins to employees who dedicated their entire careers to public service. I know that these employees stayed that long because of a strong commitment to our mission.
Throughout my career, I have been drawn to serve those who have the least among us. From seeing the support my family received, to feeling passionate about helping others going through similar experiences, I cannot be more proud to have served SSA twice in my career.
Social Security is here today and will be here in the future. From retirement to disability, Social Security is there, providing benefits to children and families, and protection for the American worker. Our services matter. The work we do makes a difference in the lives of Americans, when they need it the most.
And this, I am proud to say, is why I serve.