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The Academy Of United States Veterans And Coalition To Salute America's Heroes Announce 2018 Veteran Awards Honorees


The Academy Of United States Veterans And Coalition To Salute America's Heroes Announce 2018 Veteran Awards Honorees The Academy of United States Veterans and Coalition to Salute America's Heroes today announce the five 2018 Veteran Awards Honorees consisting of individuals and organizations who have demonstrated relentless dedication and selfless service to the veteran community and their families. A sixth "Veteran's Choice Award" will be presented to an individual on site. Honorees will be presented with a coveted Vetty statuette, a custom-designed bronzed military boot placed on a sturdy base that signifies the boots on the ground work of the Veterans Service Organizations. The statuette is symbolic of the organizations and individuals that demonstrate a strong foundation in helping to create veterans' projects, educating the public on their value, while also encouraging a unified Veterans community. The 2018 Honorees are:


The Veterans Education Award recognizes an institution/organization that has surpassed expectations in its ability to provide high-level education opportunities to military members. This year's award goes to Dustin Perkins, Director of Marketing for Student Veterans of America - Illinois.

Dustin Perkins has been actively involved in helping Veterans make the transition from military life to civilian life through education and assisting with programs to better their life. Since SVA's founding in 2008, over one million veterans have returned home to pursue a postsecondary degree or certificate using VA education benefits. To meet this need, SVA's presence at the local and national levels has grown to include over 1,300 chapter affiliates, numerous private and nonprofit partners, and most importantly, an expanding list of impactful programs and services for veterans. Veterans of America are committed to capitalizing on this momentum to ensure today's and tomorrow's veterans are supported in their transition to education and employment. Dustin has helped broker relationships with over 50 colleges in Illinois to acknowledge service members by establishing career fairs and networking events to assist in the transition. The SVA Illinois Chapter is proud in their accomplishments in assisting Student Veterans access all the resources and programs available to them throughout the State of Illinois


The Veterans Mental Health Award recipient has made a significant difference in the lives of veterans whose wounds can't be seen. Recipient has provided services/methods to replace feelings of despair with hope. This year's award goes to Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc.

Since 2010, Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs has been rescuing, raising, training and then donating individually trained medical service dogs to veterans and others struggling with a myriad of disabilities. Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Carol Borden along with her dedicated Board of Directors, employees and volunteers; are unleashing the incredible power of service dogs. Guardian Angels utilizes a positive-reinforcement training method and has a team of staff and volunteers that work to ensure that each applicant is carefully considered, and receives the tools they need to be successful with their service dog, and that each dog is matched to the right recipient.

Guardian Angels has trained medical service dogs to mitigate the challenges associated with several disabilities, including: PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Traumatic Brain Injury, seizure disorders, glucose imbalance, mobility issues and hearing impairment helping to build and restore independence and improve quality of life, for both the recipient and the dog, while minimizing reliance on government, communities, caregivers, and families. To date Guardian Angels has paired more than 200 individually trained medical service dogs with deserving recipients.


The Veterans Employment Award recipient provides a structured and productive employment plan to veterans as they assimilate back into civilian life, ensuring their financial stability. This year's award goes to Bunker Labs.

Bunker Labs is a national not-for-profit 501(C)(3) organization built by military veteran entrepreneurs to empower other military veterans as leaders in innovations. Bunker Labs supports military veterans throughout the journey of starting a business: from the idea stage-where active-duty service members are thinking about what to do post-service-to the growth stage of successful companies looking to hire, raise capital, and expand into new markets. Through local chapters across the U.S., Bunker Labs provides educational programming, access to resources, and a thriving local network to help military veterans and their spouses start and grow businesses. Bunker Labs work to inspire, educate, and connect veterans with the right resources and people locally to be successful, while also providing national tools and resources like: Launch Lab Online or our Community Mobile App to support aspiring entrepreneurs where ever they may currently live or be stationed.


The Veterans Community Award goes to an organization or individual that connects and unites the veterans community as a whole and enrichens their lives while doing so. This year's Award goes to National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP).

The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is a nonprofit organization that has worked since 1980 to ensure that the government delivers to our nation's 25 million veterans and active duty personnel the benefits to which they are entitled because of disabilities resulting from their military service to our country. The National Veterans Legal Services Program serves United States veterans from all branches of service, current service members, and their dependents, in all 50 states.

The National Veterans Legal Services Program's core programs and activities include providing free legal services to help veterans, servicemembers, and their families secure disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Armed Forces; recruiting, training, and mentoring lawyer and non-lawyer advocates who represent veterans, servicemembers, and their family members on a pro bono basis on claims for benefits; publishing educational materials that empower advocates for veterans and servicemembers; and providing free legal representation through the Lawyers Serving Warriors pro bono program (LSW).

Over the last 35 years, NVLSP has assisted hundreds of thousands of veterans to secure disability compensation benefits for the injuries they sustained during their military service. Veterans confront two systemic obstacles to securing those benefits: rules and practices applied by the VA, DoD, and military service branches that deny Congressionally mandated benefits, and multi-year delays in the processing of veterans' claims and appeals because of the VA's bureaucratic inefficiency.


The Veterans Leadership Awards is presented to an influential member of the veteran's community that has demonstrated outstanding leadership potential and serves as a role-model to remaining community members. This year's award goes to Sarah Verardo, Executive Director for The Independence Fund.

Sarah Verardo has become a national spokesperson for caregivers in the United States, serving as Executive Director for the Independence Fund. The Independence Fund is a nonprofit organization that empowers our nation's severely wounded veterans and the caregivers who support them to take control of their lives. Through its dedicated mobility and treatment programs, the Fund assists veterans in transforming their lives toward a better future. To date, the Independence fund has awarded nearly 2,000 all-terrain wheelchairs to severely wounded veterans. Vernardo has become a national face for severely wounded combat veterans and their caregivers, appearing on wide array of television programs and news outlets over the past several years to advocate for VA reform. She has dedicated her life to the care and recovery of her husband and to supporting caregivers and our wounded heroes nationwide. She has also served as a highly effective advocate for veterans and caregivers, working directly with Members of the United States House and Senate.


The Veterans Choice Awards is presented to a prominent individual in the veterans community that will be recognized for their exceptional work and service to veterans. The Veterans Choice is chosen by the veteran's community. This year's surprise award will be presented to the awardee onsite.

As previously announced, the 3rd-Annual Veterans Awards (The Vettys) hosted by CNN Anchor and host of The Lead and State of the Union Jake Tapper will be held on Sunday, January 20, 2018 at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. This year's Vettys are held in partnership with Paralyzed Veterans of America, a congressionally chartered service that serves veterans of the armed forces who have experienced spinal cord injury or dysfunction.

Every year, The Vettys donates 50 percent of its profits to an external cause. This year, those funds will be donated to hurricane relief in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. They have deployed veterans who will use 100 percent of these funds to help families reconstruct and recover.

For more information about The Vettys and to purchase tickets, visit or e-mail

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