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Leaders Recognized for their Service to South Dakota's Veterans





For more information, contact: Audry Ricketts at 605-773-8242 or audry.ricketts@state.sd.us (South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs)

 

PIERRE, S.D. County and tribal veterans’ service officers (CTVSO) and staff from the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs (SDDVA) were recognized for their dedication to serving veterans and veterans’ families at an awards program Monday, August 15, in Pierre.

 

The annual event, organized by the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs, was held in conjunction with the veterans' benefits training conference for CTVSOs.

 

“Our staff and our county and tribal veterans services officers counsel and assist veterans and their dependents,” said Greg Whitlock, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. “Regardless of service era, our team and our partners take an all-inclusive approach to ensure all veterans have access to their benefits. Their diligence makes filing claims for our veterans and family members as seamless as possible. These award winners are the best of the best. They care for every person that walks through their doors or call their offices.”

 

Lee Borries, veterans service officer for Pennington County, was awarded the 2022 Veterans Service Officer of the Year award. He was acknowledged for his advocacy for veterans, his ability to build relationships with partners within the veteran network, and his willingness to mentor new members of the team.

 

Matt Pillar, veterans service officer for Lake County, received the 2022 New County Veterans Service Officer of the Year award. Pillar was recognized for his desire to grasp and utilize information to assist his veterans and for his outstanding ability to communicate with veterans and their families.

 

Shannon Phillips, SDDVA state veterans service officer in the SDDVA Sioux Falls Claims Office, was awarded the SDDVA 2022 Outstanding Department Staffer of the Year award­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­. Phillips was recognized for her outstanding ability to communicate with veterans and their families, and her strong leadership and work ethic.

 

Jeri Smith was named the 2022 South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs Outstanding Leader, Mentor, Advocate of the Year.  Smith was recognized for her sense of responsibility, pride, and ownership of the programs she manages and her timeliness in processing all claims for the Department.   

 

Pierre Elks Lodge 1953 was presented the 2022 SDDVA Partner of the Year Award.   The Lodge was recognized for their continued dedication and support for veterans in their footprint.  For over 30 years the Lodge has delivered Christmas gifts and supplies to veterans in both the state and federal facilities in Hot Springs, assisted with homeless veterans, and sponsored military honoring banners. 

 

As John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

 

“It was truly an honor to recognize these great leaders,” said Whitlock. These trailblazers know how to use whatever’s at hand and make the best of any situation.”

 

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