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News & Stories
News | April 24, 2024

DPAA Brings Partners Together for 3rd Annual Symposium

By Sean Everette, DPAA Public Affairs

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and 30 partner organizations met in New Orleans April 16-17 for their annual Partner Symposium in order to build relationships and exchange ideas about their common goal of finding and recovering those still missing from our nation’s past wars and conflicts.

This was the third year of the symposium and was the largest yet.

“The Partner Symposium is an effort to get our partners to connect with each other, to stimulate conversation about current trends in field archaeology and historical research, and discuss their best practices and lessons learned,” said Rocky Gillette, DPAA’s Acting Director of the Partnerships and Innovation Directorate. “They can then learn from each other and find things other partners are doing that could assist them in some capacity. This is really an opportunity to network, connect, and to create that inter-connection between the partners so they can generate new ways of doing things, new approaches, thereby increasing even more what they’re bringing to the table by sharing their knowledge.”

For many of the attendees, it was also about finally meeting face-to-face with people they regularly only see on a screen or hear through a phone.

“I’m one that believes that face-to-face discussion is a lot better than distance communication of any kind, even with advanced technologies,” said Dr. Derek Abbey, Project Recover’s President and CEO. “This helps our relationships, not only with DPAA but bringing in so many partners together, it’s also an opportunity for us to engage with people we might not be communicating with. Build relationships with them. Explore new ideas. Learn new things.”

The event also served as a way to share the motivation that keeps DPAA and its partners hard at work to fulfill our nation’s promise.

“That’s kind of the beauty of this event is everyone has the same fire,” said Chuck Konsitzke, the University of Wisconsin’s MIA Recovery and Identification Project team lead. “It’s a multiplier of drive, and when you can at least show who you are to individuals at DPAA, they learn more about you. It’s a multiplier of one, knowledge; two, passion; three, company.”

DPAA’s partners have increased the agency’s ability to achieve its ultimate goal: provide answers to families and bring their loved ones home.

“It's become clear over the years that the partners have added significantly to our capabilities and capacity,” said Gillette. “When we are able to actually expand on that and have them bringing more to the table by helping each other improve and learn from one another, we get even more return on our investment. We see better results, and of course, ultimately all of this goes to helping the families.”

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Public Affairs Contact Information

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency PAO
Washington, D.C.
2300 Defense Pentagon
Attn: Outreach and Communications
Washington, D.C. 20301-2300