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Energy Department employee Chris Burris

Service Branch:  United States Air Force (USAF) and California Air National Guard (CANG)

Years of Service: USAF – 4+ (February 1987 to October 1991). CANG – 3+ (October 1987 to June 1994). Total 8+ years

Would you like to share any details of your military history, awards you may have received or other accomplishments?

As an active USAF member, I obtained the rank of Sergeant. After completing training at Lowry AFB in Colorado, I served at Hill AFB in Utah, Upper Heyford Royal AFB in England, and Langley AFB in Virginia. I received 2 Achievement Medals and 1 Commendation Medal for my service. I also received an Inspector General 'Professional Performer' award during a Unit Effectiveness Inspection while serving in Europe. This award inspired me to learn more about and ultimately join the Office of Inspector General.

Please take a moment to reflect on your thoughts when considering your service uniform.  What does your service uniform represent to you?

My service uniform represented more than just me. It represented this nation, those who wore it before me, and those that still wear it today. It stood for honor, pride, and strength that makes this nation what it is today.

Teamwork is essential across many contexts in life.  Please share how your service in the military cultivated an appreciation for the value of teamwork.  Do you draw from these experiences, or what similarities exist, when working within teams at the DOE?

My military service created the "me" I am today. It taught me that service is not an "I" thing, it is a "we" thing. We are stronger together than we are apart. My military service and OIG service has taught me that together we can achieve anything together. DOE is stronger when working together. The mission of the OIG serves to improve DOE's teamwork by strengthening its integrity, economy, and efficiency of its programs and operations. The OIG is an important part of the DOE team.

Military service can have a profound and lasting impact on those who serve. Your perspective is unique in having seen both the military and the civilian sides of service.  What story could you share of service before self? 

For over 27 years, the Federal Government has served as my employer. Below are two stories that stand out and tell my story of service before self.

In 1988, while serving in the USAF, I received an Achievement Medal for courage displayed during a life-threatening emergency. During the routine destruction of unserviceable munitions, 70,000 pounds of solid rocket propellant pre-maturely ignited while 20+ servicemen, including me, surrounded the immediate area. The resulting mass fire consumed all exposed munitions, equipment, and threatened to detonate 600 pounds of high explosives. The USAF recognized my actions that day as courageous and awarded me with a medal.

In 2003, as an OIG Special Agent, I received the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations (AIGI) 'Investigator of the Year' Honorary Award. I received this award for the self-less service, time, and efforts investigating fraud, waste, and abuse within DOE programs and operations.

What inspired your interest the agency, and how did your prior service prepare you to join the DOE’s workforce?

During my military service, I had the opportunity to work with and maintain accountability of our nation's nuclear stockpile. The DOE's mission to ensure the integrity and safety of the nation's nuclear weapons inspired me to apply and work for the DOE. The OIG participates in this effort by investigating those who would hurt that effort (suspect counterfeit items, etc.). My military service helped prepare me by allowing me to see the readiness of those weapons on the front lines.

Your talents contribute to an innovative and vibrant scientific ecosystem important for matters of national security, energy technologies, and economic prosperity.  How does your role, whether directly or indirectly, allow the agency to continue push the frontiers of science?

Over my 20 years with DOE, I have indirectly helped the agency push the frontiers of science by investigating and helping bring to justice those that have committed crimes against the DOE, including contract and cyber-crimes. My role may not be science itself; however, I have directly contributed on several occasions when criminals attempt to interfere with or scientists falsely claim to contribute to the innovative and vibrant scientific ecosystem.

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