JUNEAU - The U.S. Coast Guard office in Juneau publically recognized the contributions of U.S. Forest Service Forest Management Specialist Gene Miller for his assistance in "greatly furthering the aims and functions of the Coast Guard."
In a surprise ceremony at the Juneau Federal Building, Captain Michael Neussl, Chief of Staff of the 17th Coast Guard District, presented Miller with a Public Service Commendation for Miller's work on the Juneau Federal Employee Wellness Committee.
"Mr. Miller's meticulous management of fitness center membership funds resulted in multiple improvements to the facility and made significant enhancements to fitness center safety," Neussl told a gathering of Miller's fellow Forest Service employees and Coast Guard members.
"The management, operation and facility condition under Mr. Miller's tenure have become a model for other government agencies to emulate," Neussl said. "His commitment to this volunteer service maintained the fitness center as a viable option to meet the needs of hundreds of Coast Guard members over the years. Mr. Miller has exemplified and directly enhanced the Coast Guard's commitment to personal wellness. His action are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest traditions of public service."
"I got the award, but there have been a lot of people involved with the success of wellness activities here," Miller said. "It takes everyone, talking and cooperating, coming to a consensus, to make a project like this work.".
"There were many people, people who have retired and moved on, that kept this thing going," Miller continued. "And because of them we've advanced to the point where we oversee the building's day care, the fitness center and the health unit - all as part of a system of wellness. They're co-located and they also function together, in a sense."
The center also reserves spots for parents who want to travel on temporary duty to Juneau with their children. And it's ideal, being on site like this, for nursing moms, Miller explained.
"The public health unit has been here for a long time - even before the committees - but they play a very important role in wellness too, particularly in the prevention side of things," he said. "I've started to think of the day care unit, the health care office, and the fitness center as kind of a model - a holistic approach to wellness. And what we have here is being recognized in the community."
The success of the arrangement has prompted others to try to emulate it. The state's legislature, and the city have both sent committees to the federal building to study the arrangement there to try to incorporate similar activities in their own office buildings in Juneau.
Miller grew up in Hayward, WIs., and graduated from high school there. Has a Forestry degree from the University of Minnesota and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast. He came to Alaska with the Forest Service in 1969. When he was drafted into the Army for two years the agency held his job open. He's lived throughout southeastern Alaska and has logged over 40 years of government service.