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NEWS RELEASE - Outstanding Service to Veterans Award Recipients Honored for Their Dedication and Commitment

OLYMPIA, WA The Governor's Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee (VAAC) is proud to announce the recipients of the Outstanding Service to Veterans Awards for 2023. These awards recognize individuals and teams who have gone above and beyond in their service to veterans and their families. The award winners were honored at the Auburn Veteran's Day Parade and a special luncheon.

The Outstanding Service to Veterans Awards program aims to acknowledge the exceptional efforts of volunteers, service officers, community members, and others who tirelessly work to ensure the well-being of veterans. From assisting with benefit claims to arranging funeral honors, coordinating events, and providing support in veteran's hospitals and nursing homes, these individuals and teams have made a significant impact on the lives of veterans and their families.

David Puente, Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), congratulated the award recipients, stating, "Congratulations to our Outstanding Service to Veterans award recipients. This achievement is a testament to your dedication and unwavering commitment to our Veteran community. You've put in a tremendous amount of hard work, and your success is well deserved. You are all shining examples of what 'Serving Those Who Served' means, and we are proud to recognize each of you."

The awards are presented in three categories: Superior Award, Distinguished Service Award, and Team Award. The Superior Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Committee, recognizing outstanding accomplishments, achievements, and performance. The Distinguished Service Award acknowledges significant contributions and special accomplishments. The Team Award is designed to honor the exceptional achievements of a group or team of individuals, whether it be for their work on a special project or their overall outstanding performance. The Legislator of the Year awards are given to Legislators who devote time and energy to improving the lives of Washington's Veterans and their families through their work in the Washington State Legislature.
This year, the Outstanding Service to Veterans award recipients are:

Superior Service Award: Charles Whitman (Asotin County)
Distinguished Service Award: Gary Lott (Thurston County)
Team Award: Nine9Line Veteran Services, Shawn Durnen (Pierce County)
Legislator of the Year: Rep. Mari Leavitt, 28th Legislative District
Legislator of the Year: Sen. Chris Gildon, 25th Legislative District

“All of us who have served in the military understand the concepts of duty, honor and sacrifice. We don’t expect accolades, and that is why an honor like this one is so meaningful. I am glad to support those who serve protect our nation, past and present, and to ensure they receive the respect they are due.” - Senator Chris Gildon, 25th Legislative District

“Having been raised in a family of veterans, I am deeply humbled to receive this award. Our veterans and military personnel deserve our unwavering support, and I am fully committed to doing all I can to assist them and their families. With one of the largest military installations west of the Mississippi River within my district, I am honored with the opportunity to serve the 40,000 active-duty soldiers, 60,000 family members, and 15,000 civilian and contract employees in my district and to champion their needs." - Representative Mari Leavitt, 28th Legislative District

“What a tremendous honor it is to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the veteran community and the Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee. Having the opportunity to work with so many amazing veterans and their family members to achieve an increased impact on our military community is truly a blessing. Serving those who have served should always remain a top priority for our communities and by continuing to work together, we can continue to provide a more engaged network of support for our military members. I would like to thank all those who assist in partnering together to honor and serve our veteran community.” - Gary Lott, Executive Public Affairs Officer, Washington State Employment Security Department

"Receiving the Governor's Veteran Affairs Advisory Committee/WDVA Team Award on this special Veterans Day 2023 is an incredible honor for NineLine Veteran Services. This recognition is a testament to our team’s unwavering commitment to serving those who have selflessly served our nation. We dedicate this achievement to the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. Together, we will continue to pave the way, providing meaningful support and empowering veterans as they transition into a brighter future. This award serves as a reminder that our collective efforts can make a lasting impact on the lives of those who have served, and we are humbled to be part of their journey." - Shawn Durnen, President NineLine Veteran Services

The Outstanding Service to Veterans Awards not only honor the recipients but also serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting and caring for our veterans. Their selfless dedication and tireless efforts make a significant difference in the lives of those who have served our country.
For more information about the Outstanding Service to Veterans Awards and the Governor's Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee, please visit Outstanding Service To Veterans Hall of Fame | WDVA (wa.gov)


Media Contact Heidi Audette Communications and Legislative Director (360) 791-8966 – cell heidia@dva.wa.gov