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Groups present awards during veterans program
Veterans were honored on Sunday at the annual Veterans Day program at Bassett High School. S.T. Fulcher (right) was awarded the first joint Martinsville-Henry County Outstanding Veteran Award, and Marc Thomas (left) received the Veteran of the Year Award from the Veteran Service Organization of Martinsville/Henry County. About 85 people attended the program. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Monday, November 11, 2013
By GINNY WRAY - Bulletin Staff Writer
S.T. Fulcher was awarded the first joint Martinsville-Henry County Outstanding Veteran Award on Sunday.
Also, Marc Thomas, commander of Chapter 52 of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), received the Veteran of the Year Award from the local Veteran Service Organization of Martinsville/Henry County (VSO).
The Martinsville-Henry County Outstanding Veteran Award is given to the person who best represents “what service to our country and the community means,” according to Henry County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams.
He presented the award along with Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins and Horsepasture District Supervisor Debra Buchanan, who originally suggested that the supervisors create the Outstanding Military Veteran of the Year Award, which they did in 2009.
The award became a joint county-city honor this year after the city asked if it could be included in the county’s Veterans Day presentation, Buchanan said Sunday at the event at Bassett High School that was attended by about 85 people.
She added that they decided to do a joint award rather than separate ones presented by the county, city and the VSO.
“There are no lines for veterans,” who are honored for their service to the community, Buchanan said.
Adkins thanked all area veterans for “their sacrifices and willingness to put their lives on the line to protect our country and freedoms. ... A call to service is a gift, and today’s honoree made this gift special with his ongoing service to our community.”
Fulcher said the award meant more because it was the first combined honor.
Fulcher’s military career began in 1972 when he joined the Army Reserve and was assigned to Detachment II, 2,174th Army Garrison in Martinsville. He rose through the ranks to first sergeant and retired from the Army Reserve with 29 years and nine months of service.
“Not only does this year’s recipient have many years of service to our country, he has dedicated his life to service right here in our community. Much of that time is to help other veterans,” Buchanan said.
Fulcher’s community service includes membership in the Marine Corps League, AMVETS, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Stanleytown Ruritans, Patrick Henry Lodge Knights of Pythias and Stanleytown Methodist Church. He also works with the Boy Scouts.
He is a past commander of American Legion Bassett Post 11 and is commander of American Legion Post 42 in Martinsville.
Buchanan said Fulcher was among those responsible for creating the local VSO, “creating a positive step forward to bringing all veterans organizations together with the goal of providing better service to the citizens of Martinsville and Henry County. He is also instrumental in coordinating the annual Veterans Day Service.”
Fulcher said after the event that of all his work in the community, he is most proud of the Veterans Service Organization, which includes groups in Henry County, Martinsville and Franklin County. Its members meet monthly and, among other things, set up the Memorial Day and Veterans Day events, he said.
In addition, four veterans groups —the Honor Guard, Pannill Post 42, Marine Corps League and DAV — meet together in one place, the Pannill American Legion Post Home on Cabell Street, Fulcher said.
Thomas’ award also recognized his outstanding work for the Veterans Service Organization for the year, according to David Kipfinger, who presented the honor.
Thomas is an Army veteran who joined the local DAV in 2004. With the support of DAV Chapter 52, he started a program to provide Christmas bags for veterans in hospitals and nursing homes in 2006, and in 2009 he was instrumental in purchasing a van used to transport veterans to the VA Hospital for medical treatment.
He is a member of the Veterans Honor Guard and is its treasurer; member of the Veterans Day Committee; worked with Philpott Lake on improvements to Twin Ridge Marina to serve handicapped veterans and others between 2011 and 2013; worked with the veterans retreat program for service men and women who have been wounded; and this year he has been involved in with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Handshake Partnership, in which grant funds are matched to supply signs around Philpott Lake.
Thomas said he became involved in the veterans groups when he moved to this area 11 years ago. He came to know some previous recipients of the Veteran of the Year Award and “probably the highest honor I could receive is to be included” in that group, he said.