Recognizing Civilians

Belinda Perkins is a health benefits advisor at Kenner Army Health Clinic

Position: Health benefits advisor

Place of duty: Managed Care Division, Kenner Army Health Clinic

Duties: “Explaining health care benefits to active duty service members, retirees and their families. For example, if they receive any bills from TRICARE (the military’s health insurance provider), I can assist them.”

Time at Kenner: Five years

Time in federal service: 10 years

Hometown: Austin, Texas

How you got started in federal service: I was a food service sergeant, retiring from the Army at Fort Hood (Texas) after 20 years. I took a little time off and, in April of 2011, I got hired by the VA (Veterans Affairs), working as a medical support assistant at Fort Hood.”

Talk about your work environment at Kenner: It is amazing. I really enjoy working in Managed Care. It reminds me of being in the military because I’m still able to help and assist Soldiers. They understand I’m not just a civilian sitting behind this desk – I can relate to who they are and where they came from.”

What you expect from leaders: “To take care of the people who work for them and to lead.”

A challenge you frequently face on the job: “One challenge I have is that we sometimes need to get assistance from outside agencies to assist in paying bills. So, sometimes you’re just waiting for someone else to do their job in order for me to do mine. For example, let’s say a Soldier receives a bill from a civilian hospital. Well, I have to contact that hospital to get the bill resolved. I don’t want their credit affected, and I don’t want them to get stressed out. Sometimes everything doesn’t work as fast as it should. That can be frustrating at times.”

Motivation for doing your very best: “I love serving veterans.”

Worst fear: “Catching COVID.”

One thing you can’t live without: “Being in contact with my parents. The relationship and bond I have with them is so important to me.”

Pet peeve: “People who are dishonest and trying to ‘get over.’ Sometimes people come up with ‘stories.’ Just be straight up. I can better assist those who are honest rather than creating something that doesn’t exist.”

Favorite book: “‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama. I felt she was a very inspirational first lady, but the book wasn’t just about her holding that title. It talked about where she came from and where she ended up. She was very relatable and very down-to-earth.”

Favorite food: “I’m from Texas, so I’m going to say barbecue.”

Hobbies: “I love to fish. I love deep-sea fishing.”

Talk about your family: “The majority of them are in Austin. We get together and just have a great time. There’s a lot of laughter, and I don’t care who you bring around, they treat them like family. That’s how they roll.”

A life lesson to share: “Treat people the way you want to treated. I believe that because, to me, first impressions are everlasting. Sometimes, people have bad days. If I display the fact I had a bad day with someone who walked through my door, that’s the impression I’m going to leave with them, perhaps even that this is what this organization is about, which it isn’t.”

Someone you admire: “My mother. She raised four daughters with unconditional love, kindness and encouragement. All of that has made me into the woman I am today.”

Qualities you admire in others: “I admire people being honest, open-minded with the ability to listen as well as educate someone else on something they may not know.”

The celebrity or historical person you’d like to meet: “(Vice president-elect) Kamala Harris. I think she is amazing. First and foremost, she will become our first black and female vice president.”

What people would be surprised to know about you: “I’m a very caring person on many different levels. People may not see that. They may not see that I’m very giving to causes and very passionate about them.”

Talk about your causes:“I volunteer for Crater Community Hospice. Some people think that when you come under hospice care, you going to die right away That’s not it. I’m in a veterans’ group at Crater and we focus on veterans who are getting ready to pass away. For us, it’s about quality of life, so we’ll reach out to the family to thank that veteran for their service. …That’s huge for them.”

Future aspirations: “To go back home to Texas. We have some land down there (where) I’d like to build a home, really retire and be done with work altogether.”