Post by Son Lam, Management Analyst and Contracting Officer’s Representative, U.S. Economic Development Administration
My name is Son Lam and I am a Management Analyst and Contracting Officer’s Representative for the Commerce Department’s U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). I work in the Office of Finance and Management Services (OFMS) and I am responsible for all contracting actions for EDA. I help EDA program offices develop statements of work, cost estimates, and all other documents required for contracting purchase requests. Everything that the agency needs, I help procure, including everything from copiers, new computer equipment, cell phones, and services. It is challenging and rewarding at the same time. I get to work with everyone in EDA from my budget teammates in my direct office to the staff in each of EDA’s six regional offices.
My family and I were war refugees from Vietnam. After the fall of the Republic of Vietnam, we were lucky to escape the communist forces. I was only three years old when we arrived at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. My earliest memories were sitting in a huge aircraft hangar and seeing what seemed like thousands of blankets spread across the hanger bay. While many Vietnamese families stayed in Southern California, we were resettled in New Jersey with thousands of other Vietnamese families. We were only one of two Vietnamese family in Piscataway, New Jersey, my hometown. My two sisters Cathy and Michele were born in New Jersey. My mother worked for over two decades at General Motors. My father earned his PhD in Microbiology and even has a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which also is part of the Commerce Department.
I went to Rutgers University, where I studied Political Science and English. Upon graduating college, I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army through R.O.T.C. After spending nearly 24 years in the Army, I retired in 2014 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, my first and last duty station. I have lots of airborne jumps and multiple injuries to go along with my time in the Army! The Army has moved me all over the country and all over the world – Japan, Korea, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Qatar. My combat tours include Kuwait where I helped launch the invasion into Iraq and Afghanistan and where I helped build up the Afghan National Army’s logistics support. The most exciting place I was stationed was in Las Vegas, Nevada for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command. There I met my wife, Hyangju. My three boys, Julian, Aiden, and Harrison were all born near the tail end of my military career.
After the military, I wanted to continue to serve, so I joined the Fayetteville Police Department in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Following that, I became a defense contractor at Pope Army Airfield, formally known as Pope Air Force Base. I transferred my skills from being a contractor to finally landing my current position at EDA.
I have worked at EDA for the past five years where I get to help the agency solve problems. I love the fact that I get to continue to serve my country by working for an agency that helps communities recover from economic challenges, including natural disasters. In 2017, I was fortunate enough to join the FEMA Surge Capacity Force. I joined thousands of other federal employees who deployed to Puerto Rico to help the island get back on its feet after the devastating hurricane that struck the area. The team I was on helped distribute water and food from Ponce, Puerto Rico.
For Public Service Recognition Week, I want the American public to know that ever since I was a child, I always wanted to serve my country to pay it back for providing a life of freedom and prosperity for my family. I am lucky that I get to continue to serve my country through my work with the extraordinary people at the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Editorial Note: This post is part of a series in honor of Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW), showcasing the vast and diverse work of Commerce employees collectively working together to deliver important services that are helping the American economy grow.