Washington State’s Outstanding Service to Veterans Awards recognize individuals who devote time and energy to improving the lives of Washington's veterans.
The awards - co-sponsored each year by the Governor's Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee (VAAC) and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs - are presented at a special luncheon in Auburn, following the awardees participation in the City’s annual Veterans Day Parade. The 2014 Award Recipients are:
Superior Award - Keirsten Lyons.
Keirsten works for the American Red Cross in Spokane as Regional Service to Armed Forces Director. She single handedly developed a non-existent Service to Armed Forces program into one of the most robust programs nationwide. She works tirelessly to develop and implement meaningful programs supporting service members, their families and veterans in 22 counties. One of Keirsten’s critical actions was to reinstate a Red Cross Office on Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane.
Distinguished Service Award - Robin Baker.
Robin works for the Department of Defense as the JBLM Director of Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Robin is a veteran and the anchor for the successful transition of 1000 of veterans to our communities. She employs innovative, out-of-the-box thinking that produces partnerships, programs and initiatives bringing veterans unemployment below state average, reducing risk for homelessness and incarceration and increasing access to higher paying jobs through apprenticeship programs.
Distinguished Service Award - Keith Reyes.
Keith has been instrumental in reactivating the Military Order of Purple Heart Chapter 12 in the Seattle area. Keith was instrumental in creating a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program at the Mt. Vernon Veterans Affairs Community Base Outpatient Clinic.
Distinguished Service Award – Lloyd Gabriel.
“Gabe” is a former Army/Air Corps Prisoner of War from WWII. As a member of the American Ex-Prisoners of War organization, he was very instrumental in assisting his fellow POW’s and their spouses in applying for federal and state benefits. For many years Gabe has been the cornerstone of the Tri-Cities Chapter of the American Ex-Prisoners of War, serving as their Service Officer and editor of their newsletter.
Distinguished Service Award- Robert Donaldson.
Robert is instrumental in assisting over 6,000 veterans and their families file for their federal and state benefits. He constantly mans the American Legion booths at various conferences statewide and he provides valuable information to veterans and their families. He has been an active member of the American Legion, holding positions as District Commander, District Vice-Commander, and Membership Chair and as the Western Washington Vice Chair for Disaster Preparedness. As the District Chair for Disaster Preparedness he is responsible for getting the Pierce County Posts prepared to assist residents of Pierce County in the event of a disaster. He has been a key person in creating four new American Legion Posts in Washington State.
2014 Team Award- WA National Guard Joint Services Support Program (WNG JSS).
The WA National Guard Joint Service Support Program assists members of all reserve components in Washington State. They offer short term as well as long term financial assistance to members of the National Guard and Reserve. For fiscal year 2014 they assisted a total of 1,037 service members with direct financial assistance totaling over $363,000.00. For 2014 they assisted 369 members with their employment needs. This group volunteered a total of 14,239 hours for Family Program events. They are dedicated to meeting the needs of the members of National Guard and Reserves.