OAK leadership supports, sustains inclusive culture

Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Officer Van Duong photo

The support Oakland International Airport (OAK) TSA Officer Van Duong has received from his TSA family since being diagnosed with a serious illness in August 2020 is concrete proof of the care and inclusion of all people in the TSA workplace. 

“His coworkers have been very generous, which is a testament to the man he is,” said OAK Assistant Federal Security Director-Mission Support Kandis Smith, when talking about the 1,014 voluntary leave transfer (VLTP) hours donated by Duong’s colleagues to him so far.

Celebrating his 20th work anniversary this fall, Duong’s steadfastness to the mission continues to inspire TSA OAK.

“I’ve been Van’s colleague for about 15 years and counting,” said Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director Tai Tham. “He’s one of those employees that will quietly go the extra mile and one that you can count on.” 

“He has always been a great guy and a dedicated officer,” said Supervisory TSA Officer Lewis Roberts. “He has continuously shown up for us, so it’s even more important that we rise to the occasion to support him because he’s a valued member of our team.” 

The VLTP donations helped Duong keep his family afloat during the 11 months he was convalescing at home, but by the summer of 2021, he became disabled due to his illness.

Officer Van Duong outside photo
Oakland International Airport TSA Officer Van Duong (Photo by Brent Garner)

When Duong was well enough to resume work, the physical demands of the checkpoint were a challenge. Through collaboration with the reasonable accommodations program, OAK leadership transitioned him to the front office.

“He has taken on front desk duties and other general office tasks that fit within his restrictions,” said OAK Human Resources Specialist Sam Luks. “He’s been an asset to the front office, assisting Federal Security Director (FSD) staff with what he can, when he can.”

TSO Van Duong and others photo
TSO Van Duong (center) surrounded by his colleagues. (Photo by Willie Moss)

On the checkpoint, Duong displayed excellent critical thinking, oral communication and interpersonal skills along with unwavering conscientiousness and teamwork. His attention to detail when working at the checkpoint are now being put to use in carrying out the many functions supporting the mission behind the scenes.

“These transferable checkpoint skills are essential to the success of Team OAK and the mission of the agency,” said Smith. “Van’s presence and talents have proven to be a value-add to the FSD off-site workspace.”

“Every day Van demonstrates his perseverance and inner strength,” said FSD James Adams. “The well-being of our workforce and support of their resilience is something we work to support every day.”

“Going back to work helps me put food on the table,” said a grateful Duong about the new opportunity. He publically expressed thanks to his leadership in a comment shared at the end of an intranet story about disability employment.

While Duong waits on word about his disability retirement, he continues to provide exceptional service to the people with whom he’s stood shoulder to shoulder since OAK’s roll out.

“We always hear ‘people matter,’” said Tham. “I think it’s fitting that Van invested countless years into the mission, and on the flip side, the agency has stepped up to support Van in another role for him to continue to contribute to team OAK. “

By Karen Robicheaux, TSA Strategic Communications and Public Affairs