|The management services assistant for the installation
Religious Support Office (RSO) received this year’s Fort McCoy
Excellence Through Diversity Award.
Linda Higbee was honored for her efforts to advance women, minorities
and individuals with disabilities in the federal government and her
service as a mentor in both the government and in the local community.
Linda Higbee (left) receives the
Excellence Through Diversity Award from Garrison Commander Col.
David E. Chesser. (Photo by
Blaine Markuson, acting director for the U.S. Army Reserve Equal
Employment Opportunity Office at Fort McCoy, said Higbee
demonstrates daily her dedication to professionalism and diversity
in her assistance to numerous Soldiers, their Families, veterans and
civilians, according to the narrative nomination.
“She is especially responsive to women veterans, minorities and
older veterans or disabled veterans,” Markuson said. “She faithfully
administers the (RSO’s) Operation Helping Hand fund to individuals
in financial need with no regard to their race, religion, gender or
Higbee’s service to her fellow humans doesn’t stop at the gate.
Markuson said outside of Fort McCoy Higbee is active in supporting
the rights and protections for women through her service as
president of the St. Patrick’s Parish Council of Catholic Women,
vice president of the Mauston-Sparta Deanery for the La Crosse
Diocese, and a member of the National Council of Catholic Women.
Higbee said she was completely surprised to receive the award. She
said as she listened to the summary of the winner’s accomplishments,
she thought to herself “this is what I do.”
“It didn’t seem real that I was the winner until I was called
forward and was accepting the award from (Garrison Commander) Col.
(David E.) Chesser,” she said. “I was so surprised I was
Higbee, who has been an RSO employee since 2001, said she was happy
to accept the award on behalf of all the people who let her help
them. Helping people is her way of showing appreciation to them for
their years of service, whether that service was to their country,
their Families or helping others in time of need. Higbee, who has 35
years of government service including active-duty Army time,
volunteered at the RSO from 1990-2001.
“I have learned much from the individuals I have come in contact
with over the years — about life in general — and a lot about
myself,” Higbee said. “I hope I have become a better person because
of them. Receiving an award, such as this, is very meaningful and
has touched the core of my being.”
Higbee said she prefers to work behind the scenes and let others
take credit. In her job, she has seen many people work hard for
years only to have some sort of disability during their “golden
Higbee said she is happy to do whatever she can to help these people
make their “golden years” less stressful.
The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto
you,” applies to her job. Higbee said she really doesn’t consider
what she does as work but as an act of love for her fellow human
“Someone once asked me how I can possibly do all this,” Higbee said.
“My answer was this: ‘I’ve never stopped to think about how I can do
it. I just do it. Don’t think, do.”
Chesser said Higbee has done a magnificent job in welcoming new
people, including numerous chaplains and chaplain’s assistants, as
well as this year’s chaplain candidates, to the RSO and keeping the
organization running smoothly, as well.
“They rely heavily on Mrs. Higbee to take care of administration, to
take care of their needs and she does that wonderfully,” Chesser
said. “Every time we get a new chaplain in here she says welcome,
have a nice tour, and here’s what’s important.”
Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Fey, the RSO chaplain assistant
noncommissioned officer in charge, said she first met Higbee when
Higbee was volunteering at the Catholic Chapel in 1998. When I came
back here recently I didn’t realize how diversified Linda was and
how many places she volunteered,” Fey said. “It seemed wherever she
goes in Sparta people know her.”
Fey said Higbee is persistent in helping anyone who comes through
the RSO doors, a quality she uses to help ensure she completes all
of her assigned work.
“If a Soldier needs help, she doesn’t give up and won’t allow them
to leave without getting the help they need,” Fey said. “She is
determined to do whatever it takes to get Soldiers help.”