Wilmington VA police have a longstanding reputation for being spotlighted as one of the best VA Police teams in the nation. That’s what police Chief Paul Woodland and Capt. Christopher Peters said after bringing home its 10th “VA Officer of the Year Award.”
For the last seven years, at least one Wilmington VA police team member has been selected for VA’s most prestigious awards for law enforcement. In 2021, Wilmington swept three of the five top honors.
“We try to build our officers up for success,” Peters said. “I think the team building is what makes us a great team. Our culture is focused on putting Veterans first and taking care of staff. We’re truly like a family.”
After 10 years in the Air Force, Peters started his career with VA in 2016 as a dispatcher and later as an officer before being promoted to police captain. He was nominated and selected as the 2018 Patrol Officer of the Year for his dedication and work ethic. Peters most recently earned VA’s 2021 Supervisory Officer of the Year.
“Doing the work of several vacant positions”
“During 2020 and through 2021, Capt. Peters showed a selfless dedication to the department, doing the work of several positions that had become vacant all at once,” Woodland said. “Chris had his hand in everything that led to us not only sustaining, but excelling, during a time in which our department was short staffed. It took a lot of extra hours and a lot of stress to accomplish that. That type of work ethic cannot go unrewarded.”
Army Veteran and VA Police Sgt. Yadin Campbell received VA’s 2021 Patrol Officer of the Year for securing 135 prohibited items, closing out a 31-year-old cold case and assisting a Veteran’s roommate during a mental health crisis, among many other accomplishments.
“I’m honored to receive this, but I wish it was a team award. I couldn’t have done this without them,” Campbell said. “Choosing to work at VA was a no-brainer. After I got out of the Army, I knew I wanted to keep serving and they were hiring. I couldn’t have chosen to go anywhere better.”
“Treats Veterans with dignity and respect”
Campbell was nominated by his supervisor police Maj. Stephen Thayer, who described Campbell as a great employee with the right attitude who treats Veterans with dignity and respect. He further described Campbell as a team member who gets the job done in a kind, compassionate and respectful manner.
Air Force Veteran and lead dispatcher Jessica Salter earned VA’s 2021 Administrative Support Person of the Year.
Salter volunteered more than 160 hours to help staff medical center events, raised $25,000 in scholarships for military families and refueled a stranded Veteran’s car with her own funds.
“Jessica is always willing to go above and beyond,” Peters said about her work ethic. “On her day off, she volunteered to work to assist with the VA Secretary’s visit in 2021. At the peak of our drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination efforts, she guided people on where to go while it poured down raining—all with a smile on her face.”
“To them, they’re just doing their job.”
Salter described the team dynamic as “one big family.”
“We have a really good dispatch team here so to get up to the national level was amazing,” she said. “I was extremely proud to be put in for the award. We’re a family here and very cohesive.”
Each year, VA’s Office of Security and Law Enforcement solicits award nominations from 153 VA facilities across the nation. The awards are split into two categories based on the number of police staff. Each category has an award for top patrol officer, lead officer, supervisory officer, police chief, and administrative support.
This is the second time Wilmington VA has earned three out of the five awards in its respective category. In 2018, Wilmington VA had recipients for patrol officer, lead officer and supervisory officer of the year.
“It’s great to see their hard work get noticed at the national level, especially when I know how deserving they are,” Woodland said. “The tough part is getting the officers to brag about themselves in order to complete the nomination packages because they are all so humble. To them, they’re just doing their job.”
To learn more about a law enforcement career in VA, visit www.vacareers.va.gov.