Public Service: No Greater Opportunity To Make A Difference

Public Service Recognition Week, celebrated from May 3 through 9, is a time to honor our public service employees and recognize their hard work and extraordinary sacrifice on behalf of our country.

In his proclamation, President Obama said, “Public service is a calling which has meant so much to so many.  It embodies our sense of shared values and reflects our drive to serve a cause beyond our own -- to give back to our Nation, leave our mark, and nudge history forward.  There is no greater opportunity to help more people or to make a bigger difference.  During Public Service Recognition Week, we honor the women and men who power our local, State, and Federal governments, and we recommit to tackling the toughest challenges with the most talented workforce.”

I couldn’t agree more. Public service employees play an important role in advancing American values and interests. Their work is often taken for granted, but can easily be seen when there is a catastrophe and they quickly mobilize to respond or to solve the problem -- often at great personal risk. 

Take the recent earthquake in Nepal, for example.  Just hours after the earthquake struck on April 25th, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to help in the search for survivors and coordinate the U.S. response to the disaster.  The State Department, USAID, the Department of Defense along with several local organizations, international organizations and non-profit organizations all deployed without hesitation to get on the ground and save lives.  And even as the media buzz has faded in the aftermath of the quake, many of those individuals remain there, to ensure that aid is reaching those who need it most.

But public service employees aren’t only making a difference during crises. They are also working every day to make tangible change in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people all over the world. Nathan Bland, for example, is a Foreign Service Officer posted in Belize who takes pride in working on issues that can make a difference in the lives of the people there. In a Washington Post profile piece, Mr. Bland said that he’s proud to be able to tell his children that he works on issues that “help to save lives, protect the environment, can improve livelihoods for people, can give youth a brighter future, can help protect marginalized groups, can help save trafficked victims.”

The brave members of the USAID Disaster Assistance and Response Team and FSO Nathan Bland are just a few of many great Americans who are working in Washington, D.C., and around the world every day to support our country, its citizens, its interests, and our values.

As Secretary Kerry noted in a message thanking employees this week, “Public servants aren’t thanked often enough.”  He continued, “But we don’t choose this course in life for the back slaps or the gold stars.  We do it because we care -- because it’s a calling we can’t ignore.”

Maybe you have felt the calling to pursue public service.  If so, I wholeheartedly encourage you to consider a career at the U.S. Department of State.  As the lead U.S. foreign affairs agency, the U.S. Department of State represents the United States at more than 270 diplomatic locations around the world, including embassies, consulates, and missions to international organizations.  The primary goal of the Secretary of State and all Department employees is to shape a freer, more secure, and more prosperous world through formulating and implementing the President's foreign policy, while supporting and protecting American interests abroad.

I encourage you to learn more about how and where we perform our work, our ForeignCivil ServiceStudent, and Professional Programs, as well as details about our influential history, and how you can apply to be a part of it on

About the Author: Ambassador Arnold Chacon serves as the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources at the U.S. Department of State.



May 8, 2015
In fact, i am highly elated by these words from my number 1 public servant. i am a proud public servant in the health care system(MLT).
The Harry S. Truman Building, headquarters for the U.S. Department of State, is seen in Washington, DC
Posted by Arnold Chacon
May 8, 2015


Latest Stories

January 19, 2017

What We Got Right

With a new administration taking office this week, it is natural to assess the inheritance it will receive from the… more