MOAA Presents Highest Awards to Five Champions of the Uniformed Services Community

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The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) recognized five supporters of the military community with the association’s highest awards at a Capitol Hill ceremony Tuesday evening kicking off the association’s annual “Storming the Hill” advocacy event #storming2016.

MOAA leadership and 2016 award recipients. (Photo by Steve Barrett)

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the most important component of this country’s national security is our people, and we can never take that for granted.

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) recognized five supporters of the military community with the association’s highest awards on Capitol Hill Tuesday evening. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, president and CEO of MOAA, and retired Air Force Gen. Tony Robertson, MOAA chairman of the board, presented the awards at a ceremony signaling the start of the association’s annual “Storming the Hill” advocacy event.

Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), and Joe Heck (R-Nev.), chairman of the HASC Subcommittee on Military Personnel, received the Col. Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award for their strong leadership advocacy to sustain fair compensation and benefits for the uniformed services community.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the most important component of this country’s national security is our people, and we can never take that for granted,” Thornberry cautioned. “One of the reasons I am so grateful to MOAA … is that I know the nation’s national security overall is your top priority.”

Heck expressed gratitude for both the leadership and staff of the House Armed Services Committee and concluded by noting how important it is “we don’t balance the budget on the backs of our men and women in uniform or their families or survivors.”

Chief Terrence M. Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), accepted the MOAA Distinguished Service Award recognizing the IACP for outstanding efforts to reintegrate returning veterans into civilian law-enforcement positions.

“The only regret that I have in my life is that I didn’t serve,” Cunningham said, adding that one of his proudest days was seeing law-enforcement and military personnel assembled together on Boston Common in response to the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April 2013.

Dr. Steven Scott, chief of Rehabilitation Medicine and director, Polytrauma Center, James A Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, Fla., also received the Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his leadership role in improving the lives of America’s ill, injured, and disabled veterans and their families.

Scott acknowledged his parents, who were in attendance. His father served in the South Pacific during World War II, while his mother’s brother flew 31 missions as part of a B-17 crew. Scott shared three insights he realized during the course of his career serving veterans with war-related injuries: 1) listen to veterans; 2) be flexible and innovative; and 3) make connections. Scott cited the MOAA Tampa (Fla.) Chapter’s Operation Helping Hand as an example of the benefits of the latter.

MOAA's Distinguished Service Award has been presented since 1997 to organizations or individuals not in Congress who have greatly aided people who served in the U.S. armed forces.

Bob Simmons, majority staff director for the House Armed Services Committee, was recognized with MOAA’s Colonel Paul W. Arcari Meritorious Service Award for his initiative and strong advocacy to sustain fair compensation and benefits for the uniformed services community. This is Simmons’ second time receiving the Arcari award.

“We don’t normally give oak leaf clusters,” Robertson said, “but when we do, you know that person has done something truly extraordinary.”

“This business of serving our men and women in uniform is a team sport,” Simmons said, expressing his gratitude for the leadership and his colleagues with the Armed Services Committee.

Simmons also acknowledged the expertise of MOAA’s government relations staff: “Your internal analytic capability is of great benefit to us.”

The award, which honors congressional staff members who have made significant contributions to the uniformed services community, is named for Arcari, a retired Air Force officer who led MOAA’s Government Relations Department from 1990 until 2001.

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About MOAA:
Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is the nation’s largest and most influential association of military officers. With more than 390,000 members — active duty, former, retired, and National Guard and Reserve officers from all seven uniformed services and their spouses and surviving spouses — it is a powerful force speaking for a strong national defense and represents the interests of military officers and their families at every stage of their careers. For those who are not eligible to join MOAA, Voices for America’s Troops is a nonprofit MOAA affiliate that supports a strong national defense. For more information, visit http://www.moaa.org.

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