Exchange material handler honored as DoD outstanding employee with disability

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. --

For Eric Poulin, his strong work ethic, kind spirit and willingness to show others the ropes have made him invaluable to his teammates at Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s at Dan Daniel Distribution Center.

His inspiring tenacity has earned him the Outstanding Department of Defense Employee with a Disability Award. Poulin will be honored at a ceremony at the Pentagon, Washington, in October.

“Eric is truly a role model,” said Scott Montgomery, Dan Daniel Distribution Center manager. “His outstanding work ethic and positive attitude have proven invaluable to the Exchange’s mission of family serving family.”

Poulin, received star treatment during a ceremony at the distribution center last month, when he was honored by Karen Stack, AAFES executive vice president and chief logistics officer, Anna Middleton, AAFES president and chief merchandising officer, and other senior leaders. All of the distribution center’s associates gathered near a podium to cheer him on, giving him a standing ovation.

At Dan Daniel, Poulin, who has mild cerebral palsy, works in warehouse receiving in cross dock and transshipping, one of the most complex areas of the distribution center. He’s known for his accurate work, and he’s regularly asked to train other associates, which is something he looks forward to.

“I know how to train people while I’m on the job,” said Poulin, adding that helping others learn is his favorite part of working for the Exchange.

Because of his strong work ethic, Poulin steps in wherever he’s needed, sometimes working seven days a week.

“I will work in other areas to help them out,” said Poulin. “Sometimes I load trucks. I do picking. I sort merchandise. I do all kinds of things, whatever they want me to do.”

His parents, Gary and Jane Poulin, laid the groundwork for his success by always believing in him. 

“Eric has such perseverance to do a good job,” his mother said. “He’s just a good, kind person and a hard worker.”

Stack called Poulin an inspiration to the Exchange family.

“We are proud that Eric works in Logistics for the Exchange,” Stack said. “It’s not what you can’t do, it’s what you can do. The glass is always half full with Eric. He proves that hard work gets you far in life.”

When Poulin isn’t working, he stays active in the Hampton Roads community through Special Olympics and CLUBWAKA, a sports organization. Poulin also enjoys coaching kids’ soccer, working with athletes from preschoolers to high schoolers.

Poulin’s brother-in-law serves in the Marine Corps, giving Poulin a personal connection to the Exchange’s core value of family serving family. That connection is evident through Poulin’s dedication to the Exchange and his commitment to troops and their families.

“He is the ideal associate that everyone would want on their team,” said Chris Taylor, Dan Daniel Distribution Center supervisor. “He is very dedicated and always willing to assist in any area, eager to tackle challenges without hesitation and displays outstanding quality of work. He understands the importance of how critical his position is to our company.”