Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff
people, especially those in the military or veterans, keeps work
enjoyable for a 40-year federal employee in the Fort McCoy
Installation Legal Office (ILO).
Rita Byers (left) of the Fort
McCoy Installation Legal Office is recognized for 40 years of
federal service by Garrison Commander Col. David E. Chesser. (Photo
by Rob Schuette)
Byers, a paralegal specialist who has worked at the ILO for the past
22 years was honored Aug. 5 at Fort McCoy for becoming one of a select
group of federal civilian employees who has reached 40 years of
federal service. She doesnít plan to slow down anytime soon.
Commander Col. David E. Chesser presented Byers with a certificate,
pin and a letter of congratulations/recognition from Maj. Gen. John A.
Macdonald, deputy commanding general for the Installation Management
Command (IMCOM), at an ILO awards ceremony. Chesser noted that he can
sign length of service certificates for federal civilian personnel who
have up to 35 years of government service, but the policy is different
for those who reach the 40-year milestone.
personnel have 40 years of service, it goes directly to IMCOM,"
Chesser said. "It was signed by Major General Macdonald. It is my
pleasure to present this certificate, pin and letter of
congratulations to her."
took a circuitous route in her federal career before coming to Fort
McCoy in 1976. She graduated from Cashton High School in 1966 and went
directly to work for the FBI in Washington, D.C.
mother was looking for a career for me so when she heard about the FBI
opening, she filled out a post card and sent it in," Byers said.
"I received the (10-page) application, but put it aside figuring
Iíd fill it out later."
one day, I was called to the principalís office at Cashton,"
Byers continued. "I had never been to the principalís office
before so I was worried about what was happening. Then, the principal
and (the man from the FBI) stood up and welcomed me into the office.
The man (from the FBI) suggested I fill out the forms and return
did, passed the clerical test and was accepted.
spending a year in the FBI in Washington, D.C., she returned to the
Cashton area. Byers said she temporarily worked for Gateway
Transportation Company in La Crosse, replacing a woman who was
pregnant, before resuming her federal and FBI career in Milwaukee.
about three-and-one-half years in Milwaukee, she decided to move onto
her next duty station. As was customary in those days, she had to list
three choices. So she listed locations with a similar climate to
Wisconsin: embassy locations in Ottawa, Canada; Bonn, Germany and
stepped in and I was allowed to post into the (GS-8) Bern position (as
I was a GS-7)," Byers said. "Otherwise, consideration would
have been opened up on a nationwide basis."
Bern, Byers met her late husband, Paul Byers, a Marine sergeant who
worked as a security guard at the embassy.
Byersí next assignment was at Camp Pendleton, Calif., so they moved
there. At first, Rita didnít work. But when the coupleís first
child came, they decided it would be easier financially if she went
back to work. Rita first worked for the Provost Marshalís Office and
then for the Naval Investigative Service.
Sgt. Byersí term of duty was ending, he was told he had to complete
his General Equivalency Diploma to continue serving. The paperwork got
lost so he decided to separate from service, Byers said. The couple
decided their prospects were best if they moved back to the Cashton
resumed her federal career when she began working at Fort McCoy in
1976 for the Communications Command, which later became the
Directorate of Information Management.
in 1986 she made a lateral transfer to the Judge Advocate Office,
which is now known as ILO as a legal assistant.
had run and been elected to be the municipal judge in Cashton (a
nonpartisan position) in 1979," Byers said. "That taught me
how to read statutes and do legal research. I also used my training in
the FBI. The rest I picked up through on-the-job experience."
continues to enjoy her ILO duties, which include preparing power of
attorney documents, reviewing and forwarding traffic tickets to the
federal magistrate court, and working with the U.S. Attorneyís
also handles ILO administrative matters and helps run the Volunteer
Income Tax Assistance program each tax season. She enjoys helping
veterans on and off the job, doing work with the Veterans of Foreign
Wars Ladies Auxiliary in her off-duty time.
liked accounting in high school so now itís nice to help Soldiers
with their taxes," Byers said. "Iím still ready to come
into work each morning. I have no immediate plans to retire."
her career at Fort McCoy, Byers was the second recipient of the
then-Federal Womenís Program outstanding achievement award in 1986
and earned a Commanderís Award for Civilian Service in 2003.
Daniel Culver, the ILO Judge Advocate, said itís a pleasure to have
Byers work in the office, and she is an invaluable historical
40 years, Rita has kept up her level of enthusiasm and commitment in
every thing she does," Culver said. "Sheís good at
everything she does. Iím looking forward to continue working with