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The Frontline and the First Impression

Upon entering the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation (DLA) base in Chesterfield County (also known as Bellwood), the very first person that most people will see is a SOAR365 employee. And the second person they will see is a SOAR365 employee. And so on. That’s because a team of eight SOAR365 employees — five of whom have a disability — fully staff the Visitor Center on the base every minute that it’s open.

The Visitor Center issues daily badges to visitors and renews long-term badges for military and civilian employees (and their families), a process that involves multiple levels of background checks and security monitoring.

“The SOAR365 team is responsible for 100% of the badges at DLA Aviation — at some point, they will touch every single badge,” says Rodney Shelton, Director of Assembly & Logistics. By serving as the front line and welcoming everyone who comes on base, the Visitor Center staff play a dual role: providing security and being the first impression for visitors. In addition to issuing badges for Bellwood base personnel, the Visitor Center also offers security support for surrounding bases all along the entire East Coast.

Back row (from left to right): Melody Seabron, Michael Abraham, David Hummel, Kathleen Farmer.

Front row (left to right): Pamela Aultman, Patricia Atkins (team leader), Matthew Daniel.

Not pictured: Kyle Loren and Zachary Owen.

“The work this team does is mission-essential,” explains Rodney. “Everything that happens in the Visitor Center ties to the defense of the nation. It isn’t just a local job; it’s imperative to the operation of the base and the entire military.”

To handle such high-level work, the SOAR365 employees on this contract must be certified to process the necessary transactions and be competent in all relevant systems, procedures, regulatory requirements and policies.

Not only do they successfully accomplish these tasks but they also receive rave reviews, year after year. The SOAR365 team strives for 100% customer satisfaction by focusing on workflow efficiencies, pleasant interactions and helpful responses — and it shows! They’ve received two Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPID) awards from the Defense Department in recognition of their outstanding customer service; they’ve also been recognized internally at SOAR365 with the Business Solutions Team of the Year award. With that level of excellence, it’s no surprise that the contract has been renewed annually for the past eleven years — that’s every single year since it was first awarded to SOAR365.

“On numerous occasions, this team of hard-working and determined folks has gone far above and beyond to not only accommodate new personnel coming in to work with AOCL, but also to help explain processes, fast-track appointments, make corrections and fill in the blanks for our team without hesitation!”
“We earn this contract,” said Rodney. “To the Department of Defense, it’s about deliverables and the job we do. They wouldn’t renew our contract just because we are an organization with a great mission.”

Of course, SOAR365 does have a great mission, and to Trish Atkins, who leads the contract, that makes the work even more meaningful. “We are an organization that provides opportunities on so many levels to people with disabilities,” she says. “From employment opportunities to day support programming to therapy to workforce development training.”

Trish adds, “My favorite part of this contract is working with our staff; they are an amazing team.” The work of this amazing team is not just felt at DLA Aviation. Like all Business Solutions contracts (whether federal, municipal, or private), the revenue generated from the Visitor Center contract supports funding for all SOAR365 programs and operations. As Trish explains, “It’s truly rewarding for our team to know that the individuals with disabilities here are supporting individuals with disabilities across SOAR365.”

About SOAR365 federal contracts at DLA Aviation:

More than 80 SOAR365 employees fulfill at total of four contracts at DLA Aviation, providing visitor center, emergency dispatch, grounds maintenance, and custodial and janitorial services. Formerly known as Defense Supply Center Richmond, DLA Aviation is the demand and supply manager for DLA and much of the Defense Department. It is located on along Interstate 95 in Chesterfield County, on grounds historically known as Bellwood.

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