GSA Committed to Armed Forces and Nation's Veterans

November is a special month for the U.S. military. James Williams' Common Cents Administrator Column LogoOn Veterans Day, we remembered all who have served in the armed forces, defending our homeland and fighting for freedom and against terrorism throughout the world. The United States Marine Corps also celebrates its 233rd birthday in November.

This month we also held our national election to select a new president. While Election Day in America is not associated with the military – the sight of armed troops in our towns and cities during voting would in fact be startling – it is largely because of the men and women who throughout history have fought for our nation that we are so accustomed to free and peaceful elections.

The U.S. General Services Administration, the federal government’s landlord and supply arm, assists the military by providing just about everything but weapons. GSA also works hard to expand business opportunities for small firms owned by veterans and service-disabled vets.

Last month, for instance, GSA was honored to participate in a ceremony in Quantico, Va., announcing a unique partnership under which we will offer the Marine Corps: global delivery, single-point customer service, and much more on hundreds of thousands of items. Buying in bulk will save the military (and taxpayers) some $100 million over the next seven years.

Providing goods and services at best value is what we do every day. When we achieve our mission, it enables our customer agencies to solely focus on their missions. In this case, that mission couldn’t be more important. It involves protecting our homeland, defending American ideals, and advancing the cause of freedom around the globe.

In addition to running the Marine Corps’ “ServMart,” GSA recently opened a warehouse in Kuwait which is staffed by GSA employees and filled with non-tactical supplies. The warehouse is stocked with goods procured in the most economical manner, nearly eliminating the need for expensive air shipment. GSA’s warehouse reduces time to deliver goods to our service members in Iraq and Afghanistan by nearly two weeks, saves the military $40 million and improves the quality of life for our troops on the front lines.

When the U.S. Transportation Command needed to get non-tactical supplies in theater fast, our stock system in New Jersey responded immediately. We are grateful that our teammates in that warehouse were personally recognized by TransCom’s former Commanding General, now Air Force Chief of Staff General Schwarz.

As important, GSA has a program called the “21 Gun Salute,” which assists service-disabled veterans get their businesses on federal schedules. This initiative builds on a 2004 executive order from President George W. Bush designed to increase federal contracting opportunities for small firms owned by service-disabled vets. We are doing just that by: increasing awareness; through advocacy; innovation; training; recognition; accountability; and partnerships.
Expanding business opportunities is one important way to honor the men and women who, throughout history, have served proudly and courageously in our Armed Forces, placing their personal safety and ambitions second to protecting our country, preserving American ideals, and fighting the enemies of freedom. To learn more about the 21 Gun Salute, visit

Speeches and parades are important, but so is action, and not just in November. As we think back to Election Day, remember the birthday of our great Marine Corps, and stop to reflect on the sacrifices of our veterans, we will also continue to look for ways to help our men and women in uniform.

Jim Williams is Acting Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration

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