The Sammies effect
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The Sammies effect

January 7, 2020 | Updated on May 17, 2022
Victoria Brahm

In photo above: Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, left, with Victoria Brahm, right, at the 2019 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals gala. (Photo by Lawrence Jackson /

Before the Partnership for Public Service honored me with an award for public service this past fall, I couldn’t have imagined what a huge effect the recognition would have on my family, other federal employees and the general public.

Receiving the 2019 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America award for Federal Employee of the Year was one of the most memorable and meaningful honors I have ever received, and the events surrounding the award raised the public profile of the work federal employees do. The publicity also helped dispel myths many people have about federal government employees.

Even my own family gained a better understanding of the noble mission of my work for the Tomah VA Medical Center, a Veterans Department facility I’m proud to serve. 

Since the gala celebration in October, many people, including federal employees, from across the United States have contacted me to share that they were motivated by the awards and excited to hear more about my journey. They also wanted to talk about their own.

I have been contacted about speaking and teaching engagements, and people have inquired about joining the federal workforce so they can make a difference.

I’ve met amazing and humble federal employees driven by their passion for what they do. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that by sharing my experiences, many federal employees realized their work can make a huge difference.

The awards night was like the Oscars. The gala was held in a large, regal hall in a federal building and spotlights illuminated the glamour of it all. Many celebrities and changemakers attended, including host Andrea Mitchell from NBC, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie and many others.

I get goosebumps thinking about it. The Partnership opened the door to multiple media avenues for me to share my story. 

Partnership staff members are dedicated to getting the word out about what great work we do as federal employees, and the impact we have on making the world a better place. It is my honor to be able to give back and inspire others.

What a great opportunity you have right now to nominate federal employees for their work and highlight their accomplishments. So many federal employees deserve this type of recognition.

Find more information, and stories of the 2019 recipients, on the Partnership website. The organization’s work is extremely important, and you can be part of it.

Nominate someone today.

For more on the Sammies, the Oscars of government service, check out these blog posts:

Victoria Brahm is the medical center director for the Tomah VA Medical Center in the Department of Veterans Affairs.