Small whistles can make big noises.
They sound the alarm on conduct of illegality, fraud, waste or abuse. They can challenge power.
Many government workers feel they are doing their patriotic duty by bringing attention to wrongdoing.
But such disclosures can put a target on a whistleblower's back, leading them into the perilous world of retaliation.
They are sometimes smeared as traitors, turncoats and liars by their superiors and suffer harassment, punishment or firing.
Dan Meyer doesn't believe a government worker should have to choose between conscience or career.
That's why he's there to offer protection.
As the Director of Whistleblowing and Transparency for Gordon Heddell, Inspector General of the Department of Defense, it is Meyer's job to make sure that any civilian government worker who reports abuses of power does not face reprisals.
In doing so, he often goes up against those in the higher levels of government.
"But Dan is pretty fearless," said David Ingram, a project manager at the Office of the Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence. "He has the knowledge and technical acumen to determine what is right."
Meyer has been named one of 34 finalists for the 2011 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, presented annually by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service.
The medals program honors the best in the federal workforce and works to inspire others to consider public service careers. It has earned the reputation as one of the most prestigious awards dedicated to celebrating America's civil servants.
Meyer, a Hagerstown resident, was nominated in the National Security and International Affairs division. The medal is accompanied by a $3,000 award.
Winners will be announced Sept. 15 at a black-tie gala in Washington, D.C.
As someone who was a whistleblower himself, Meyer seems a perfect fit for the job and understands the important role that public disclosure plays in improving government performance and accountability.
A former U.S. Navy line officer, Meyer was onboard the USS Iowa during the 1989 explosion that killed 47 American sailors. He later disclosed investigative flaws and alleged wrongdoing to the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the Navy's subsequent investigation.
"I can empathize with the pressure that's put on you," Meyer said. "But the Navy did OK by me."
It's those who aren't so fortunate that Meyer hopes to safeguard.