Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Honoring Service to Vets

Several Washington residents will be honored this Saturday with Outstanding Service to Veterans Awards for their contributions to Washington State’s veterans and their families during the past year.
The awards -co-sponsored each year by the Governor's Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee (VAAC) and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs - recognize individuals who devote time and energy to improving the lives of Washington's veterans.
The awards are presented at a special luncheon in Auburn, following the awardees participation in the City’s annual Veterans Day Parade. Parade starts at 11 am and luncheon begins at 1:30 pm.
2012 Award Recipients:
Outstanding Patriotic Service to Veterans

Tami Michaels lives in King County and is one of the most effective advocates a veteran could have in our state. Last year, Tami advocated for Fisher Broadcasting and KOMO TV to do a documentary on Washington’s veterans and the struggles they face coming home from war. This documentary made sure that our community does not forget about the all-volunteer military who risk their safety and well-being for our freedoms.
Outstanding Veteran Service Officer

Richard Calef is a resident of Stevens County and a Veteran Service Officer for the American Legion. In addition to exceptional service officer work, Richard created the 9-1-1 Memorial Ride which is known throughout the Tri-State region. Richard was also instrumental in the development of the VA Outreach Medical Clinic in Colville. Rick is a member of the National Association of Medics and Corpsmen and maintains a unique Memorial Complex to All Combat Medics on his ranch in Eastern Washington.

Outstanding Employee

Michael Flood, a resident of King County, is the Vice President for Community Relations for the Seattle Seahawks/FC. As a board member of Camp Patriot, Mike has ensured there are enough sponsors to cover expenses for disabled veterans to participate in the yearly events of climbing Mt. Rainier, riding the Pony Express and hunting. Mike was also instrumental in getting Washington’s first Veterans Raffle advertised during Seahawks games and coordinating the 2011 Raffle kick-off events with NFL Hall of Fame Player Steve Largent.
Outstanding Veteran Volunteers

The Washington State Women Veterans Advisory Committee was established in 2008 and is composed of an all-volunteer group of women veterans from all branches of service across the state. In the span of 4 years, this group of women veterans demonstrated vision and actions on behalf of the over 60,000 women veterans. Each year, they have organized a women veterans summit with resounding success. Through the summits, they have connected women veterans to benefits and services they might be entitled to, resulting in a 15% increase in the number of women veterans enrolled in the VA health care system. The committee works hard on behalf of their fellow women veterans and has provided the WA Department of Veterans Affairs with sound advice on how to better serve women veterans in our state. They provide their services and time selflessly and abundantly.
Outstanding Volunteer Veteran Service Officer

Lawrence Strozyk lives in Douglas County, serving as a volunteer service officer for the past 10 years with VFW Post 3617 in East Wenatchee. Larry’s success rate for submitted benefits claims for veterans has been at a steady 92%, resulting in veterans receiving well over $1.7 million dollars in retroactive payments. When Larry is not performing his service officer duties, he recruits, volunteers and organizes the Post’s Honor Guard for funeral duties and does the same for the Post’s Color Guard participations in local veterans and civic parades in Douglas County.

Outstanding Male Non-Veteran

Hal Bernton is a Seattle Times reporter and has been the military/veterans community voice since reporting as a war correspondent from Iraq in 2005. Hal’s reporting has helped shed light on an unfortunate situation faced by many returning combat soldiers, involving “other than honorable discharges” for misconduct. Hal’s investigative reporting has brought attention to the fact that many of these misconduct incidents can be directly attributed to being diagnosed with PTSD prior to the behavior change.
Outstanding Female Non-Veteran

Venay K. Money, a resident of Clallam County, has been active in the VFW Auxiliary for the past 25 years. Venay participates in the Port Angeles Annual POW/MIA Program, Veterans Day Parades, and is very instrumental in the yearly stand downs in Clallam County. Her passion for helping veterans and their families in stems from her experience being married to a Vietnam Era veteran. Venay has been instrumental in increasing the Disabled American Veterans Van volunteer drivers from 3 to 11 in her community, providing transportation for local veterans to the VA Facility in Seattle.
Outstanding Legislators

Representative Barbara Bailey, District 10, Oak Harbor

Representative Bailey has served as a member of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs since 2007 and currently serves on the Executive Committee as the Joint Committee Co-Chair. In this capacity, Representative Bailey has heard and supported numerous veteran initiatives including the creation of the Veterans Innovations Program which serves veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan and the Veterans Raffle which now provides funding for the Veterans Innovations Program. As the spouse of a military retiree and mother of two children serving in the United States Armed Forces, Representative Bailey is also a staunch supporter of military personnel and has supported legislation that helps separating military personnel translate their military experience into Washington State certificates or licenses. In 2012, she sponsored a bill that would provide a free Discover Pass to 100% disabled veterans, as well as voting in favor of several other bills for veterans and their families.
Representative Larry Seaquist, District 26, Gig Harbor

Representative Larry Seaquist is a former US Navy warship captain and Pentagon strategist who served for 32 years in the U.S. Navy. His passion for serving veterans and military personnel has carried over into his legislative career where he advocates for veterans who are pursuing their higher education goals using the GI Bill benefits they earned. In 2012, he sponsored legislation which would have provided additional funding for colleges to develop programs to serve veterans on their campuses. He also co-sponsored a bill to bring establish a fourth State Veterans Home in Walla Walla in addition to voting in favor of several other bills for veterans and their families.


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