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37th Training Support Squadron  Instructional Technology Unit Flight Chief
Raymond D. Jenks, 37th Training Support Squadron Instructional Technology Unit Flight Chief, uses an input device (chin controller) to work on his computer.
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Lackland civilian honored by Department of Defense

Posted 11/15/2013   Updated 11/18/2013 Email story   Print story


by Mike Joseph
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs

11/15/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas -- A 37th Training Support Squadron flight chief recently received a 2013 Secretary of Defense Award for outstanding civilian employees with disabilities.

Raymond D. Jenks, 37th TRSS Instructional Technology Unit flight chief at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, was one of 21 employees and service members with disabilities recognized by the Department of Defense. This year's awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., was cancelled by the federal government shut down.

According to the DOD award program website, the program was started in 1981 to honor outstanding DOD employees with disabilities for their valuable contributions to national security.

"I was very surprised," said Jenks, who also received the award in 2003. "When I won the Air Force award that was a big deal to me. When it gets to the DOD level, there are a lot of people being considered. It's an honor."

Jenks has been the ITU flight chief since 2007. He started in the 37th TRSS as an instructional technology designer and developer in 1994.

The 37th TRSS Instructional Technology Unit designs and develops technology-based training and distance learning for the 37th Training Group. The group provides professional and technical training to more than 36,000 military members and civilians from the armed forces, federal agencies, and the international community.

The group's training and distance learning programs are typically delivered through the Internet, a combination of Internet/classroom, or by technology insertions when technology-based training is put into classrooms, said Jenks.

"Our charter has always been to save time and money over traditional training methods," he said. "We're saving TDY (temporary duty) to school funds and/or shortening TDY time. We can't teach everything with technology-based training but we can teach a lot of things a lot better and cheaper by using technology."

According to the DOD award program website, Jenks developed the first, and only, secure online testing program in Air Education and Training Command. The program ensures that tests can be taken "anytime, anywhere" with zero risk of compromise.

In addition, the process eliminates costs and other issues associated with paper or disk exams, certified mail, worldwide mailing, storage of test materials and scoring mistakes. The process was benchmarked across services, recommended for use by higher headquarters and recognized as an Air Force best practice.

"We identify the best method through a comprehensive analysis," Jenks said. "We give it back to the training managers with their training delivery options and costs associated with each, including advantages and disadvantages. Then we design and develop the software training solution in accordance with the analysis and training manager guidance.

"I'm very proud to say I think we've got the best program in the command as far as design and development of what we do," he said of his unit. "We've got an excellent team here."

A C4-5 quadriplegic after breaking his neck in 1986, Jenks graduated cum laude from Wright State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and secondary education.

Prior to the high level cervical neck break, Jenks had been a college football player on scholarship. His original goals were to coach and teach after graduation; instead he was recruited into the Palace Acquire program and became an Air Force civilian employee.

Jenks said he has very little arm movement, no finger movement, no hand movement and no leg movement, before adding with a laugh, "plenty of mouth movement."

"I have help eating and things like that, but not in doing my job," he said. "I'm self sufficient with what I do or I wouldn't do it."

To accomplish computer tasks, he uses an input device - a chin controller - with his mouth or chin. There are two screens on his desk: one for the input device with rows of letters and the other a computer monitor. What he enters on the input device transfers to the computer monitor.

"There are no limitations with the input device on what I can do on a computer compared to what you can do," Jenks said. "I don't always have to look at the screen because it gives me audio feedback with a beep. I can't draw the keyboard I've used for 20 years; I just know where the keys are.

"This machine is life for me on this job. It's earned its weight in gold."

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