“I look at it like this. We’re born on this Earth and we get until about 80 something years old and then that’s it. You don’t know when it’s going to end. It could end early with a heart attack or automobile accident, so why not take every day and treat it as a day where there’s something you can accomplish, or some people you can meet, or some mission you can support.”
That’s how industrial hygienist Bob Stout sees things.
“My philosophy has always been one of service, said Stout. “Let me do for you what you need to have done. Let me focus on that first before my other priorities.”
Stout’s no nonsense approach to work came in handy during his long and decorated career in government service. He retired in 2007 as the first industrial hygienist to be named Chief of Safety and Occupational Health for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
So what’s he doing back at work, this time for the Sacramento District?
Bob Stout is one of a handful of former employees who continue to serve the nation through the Rehired Annuitants Program.
The Rehired Annuitants Program is a way for federal agencies to fill temporary positions with experienced personnel who can hit the ground running. After retiring, former employees can apply to be on the list of potential rehired annuitants. Each assignment last six months and can be extended if need be. They have to be willing to go wherever they are needed and they can’t keep turning down assignments or they’ll be dropped from the program.
This will never happen to Stout.
“I haven’t declined an offer yet,” said Stout. “I like to be the mule. Stack the load on my back because I’m still smiling.”
Positions with the Los Angeles County Occupational Health Service, U.S. Department of Treasury National Defense Stockpile Program eventually lead Stout to the Corps of Engineers. He worked on a wide variety of projects across the country during his time with the Corps and he was heavily involved in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina. The experience had a profound effect on him. His passion for helping people during times of crisis motivated him to stay onboard as a rehired annuitant.
“The real interest there was serving during disaster response. I felt if I was on the RA [rehired annuitant] list and another tragedy struck, I could be of assistance,” said Stout.
He got his chance to help in 2011 when a level-five tornado touched down in Joplin, Missouri.
“We were working 14 hour days helping people,” said Stout. “I found that really satisfying.”
Stout was introduced to the Sacramento District in 2012 working at the Utah Data Center mega construction project and then in 2014 when he helped grow its industrial hygiene program by developing serval quality management standards. After 6 month assignments in the Chicago and Louisville Districts, he came back to Sacramento in January to temporarily fill the vacant Chief of Safety and Occupational Health position until the district can hire a permanent replacement.
“It’s a matter of serving. I love the Corps of Engineers. I love what the Corps stands for. When the call comes for certain skill sets like in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Corps of Engineer civilian work force answers that call,” said Stout. “A lot of people join the program for the money. I think it’s a privilege and honor to be asked to come back.”