Editor’s Note: This release was edited by Larry Lapka
DeCA Director of Public Health and Safety Parham Retires • FORT LEE
Army Lt. Col. Angela Parham, the Defense Commissary Agency’s (DeCA) director of Public Health and Safety, retires from the Army on Jan. 31 and will exit the agency on retirement leave Nov. 21. DeCA is going through the selection process for her successor.
As DeCA’s director of Public Health and Safety since June 21, 2019, Parham led a staff in Asia, Europe and the United States that planned and implemented the agency’s consumer and occupational safety and health programs.
DeCA’s food safety mission ensures all edible products destined for commissary shelves are inspected by military Veterinary Services personnel, who check items for documented place of origin, and ensure they are within appropriate temperature ranges and free of any pests or signs of contamination that could cause food-borne diseases.
In the area of occupational health and safety, agency specialists are charged with tracking U.S. federal requirements along with those governing the local national employees in the country where the store operates.
“I expected my position to mostly involve food safety issues like recalls, but it seems the types of public-health related issues that can arise are practically endless,” Parham said. “We have to stay ahead of any potential issues to ensure our stores and products remain safe and that we comply with all regulatory requirements. It has given me a new respect for the entire retail grocery industry.”
Parham came to DeCA in 2019 from the U.S. Army Central Command (USARCENT) headquarters at Shaw AFB, S.C., where she was the command veterinarian.
During her assignment at USARCENT, Parham, though stationed in Shaw AFB, traveled frequently to the Middle East, working in Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, Afghanistan, Oman, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
She has been a veterinarian for 23 years, graduating veterinary school in 1997 from the University of Georgia, and subsequently entered active duty as a captain in the Army Veterinary Corps.
Her previous assignments included stops at Tyndall AFB, Fla.; Camp Walker, South Korea; Fort Gordon, Ga.; and Fort Wainwright, Alaska, where she was commander of the Alaska District Veterinary Command.
From 2014 to 2016, she completed an applied epidemiology fellowship with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, working in Atlanta, Ga., and deploying to Sierra Leone.
From 2013 to 2014, Parham served as the command veterinarian for the Area Support Group-Kuwait at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where she supervised the food safety and clinical veterinary missions in Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Parham earned both her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in Biological Sciences (1991) and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (1997) from the University of Georgia. She also earned a Master of Science in Veterinary Public Health in epidemiology (2008) from Texas A&M University.
Parham is a board-certified Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.
“I will always remember my DeCA assignment as one of the most interesting and rewarding assignments of my career,” she said. “I’m very proud of the work my team does and the work everyone has done in light of the pandemic.
“Despite having some COVID cases, which is unavoidable in a situation like this, DeCA has performed very well in keeping employees and customers safe. I hope everyone realizes what a great job they are doing as they continue performing to such a high standard.
“Keeping up the mitigation strategies — the masks, the distancing and the endless gallons of hand sanitizer — is very taxing. Kudos to all those who are doing what needs to be done.”
Edited by Larry Lapka
Army Lt. Col. Angela Parham goes through a health screening at the NS Norfolk, Va., Commissary in June. Photo: Michael Cerny, DeCA