JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder on March 1 presented Veterans Service Awards to 35 Missouri veterans who provide exemplary volunteer service to their communities.
Winners were selected from around the state and included five winners from southwest Missouri: Ellen Duvall and Steve Vanderhoof of Springfield; James Compton of Mount Vernon; Everett Kelly of Buffalo; and Richard Lewis of Bolivar.
Duvall was a 20-year veteran of the Navy Nurse Corps, where she served in Vietnam on a 412-bed hospital ship, and in Desert Storm, where she helped set up a 500-bed tent hospital. Duvall was nominated by Barbara Frogue, director of Volunteer Services at Cox Health in Springfield.
In her nomination, Frogue said Duvall is active in the Rotary Club, handing out dictionaries to fifth-graders in parts of the community with low literacy rates. She has collected and delivered Thanksgiving baskets and packed food at the Ozarks Food Harvest, and was recognized by the Springfield News-Leader with the Community Outreach Nurse Award.
“At our hospital she volunteers regularly,” said Frogue. “She is a Gold Life member of our Auxiliary. She assists in the college nursing lab to provide assistance and guidance to the nursing students. She is an excellent example of a veteran who has a servant’s heart, giving to her community.”
Vanderhoof, a retired colonel in the Missouri Army National Guard, was nominated for the award by the Ozark Empire Chapter of Military Officers Association of America in Springfield.
Vanderhoof has volunteered for several years as the Area 4 chairman and as an ombudsman for the Missouri Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program. Area 4 covers 18 counties in southwest Missouri, and Vanderhoof manages the area’s volunteers to provide education, outreach and mediation for Guard and Reserve members and their employers.
Last year he was awarded the 2,000-hour President’s Volunteer Service Award. He also is very active in the Military Officers Association of America, for which he served as president of the Ozark Empire Chapter in 2013 and 2014, and currently serves as first vice president of the Missouri Council of MOAA Chapters.
Compton, a U.S. Navy veteran, was a radioman aboard an aircraft carrier from 1943 until the end of the World War II, serving primarily in the South Pacific “dodging kamikazes and torpedoes,” as he puts it.
He was nominated for the award by Kathy Fairchild of the Lawrence County Historical Society. She said Compton volunteers each week helping get food to needy neighbors, assisting veterans at the Missouri Veterans Home in Mount Vernon and helping the Lawrence County Historical Society.
“In addition to church work, he volunteered over 11,000 hours at the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon until it was closed in late 2014,” she said. “Since then, he has volunteered in the museum Lawrence County Historical Society opened to commemorate the hospital’s impact, the MRC Museum.” He also volunteers each month with the local food pantry, helping to distribute food to needy neighbors.
Kelly served in the Marine Corps from 1965 to 1971 at which time he joined the Army. He retired from the Army in 1987. He was nominated for the award by Dallas County Sheriff Mike Rackley.
In his nomination, Rackley said Kelly, after moving to Buffalo in 2007, began volunteering at the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office. Since then, he has volunteered 50-100 hours each month training new deputies, performing administrative duties and obtaining equipment grants for the Sheriff’s Office and other county departments.
“In 2012, Mr. Kelly started a program called Drug Alcohol Awareness – Youth Education Program, which travels to various schools and youth activities both in Dallas County and elsewhere in Southwest Missouri,” he said. “The program is designed to increase awareness of the pitfalls of drugs and alcohol to youths within the community.”
Kelly also started a program in the Dallas County Associate Court to provide sentencing options for youth arrested for drug and alcohol violations. He also volunteers with the Military Order of the Purple Heart, assisting veterans and their families with disability claims. “He is constantly working on projects to increase community awareness and appreciation of veterans and increase of veteran benefits within the state of Missouri,” Rackley added. “Mr. Kelly is a shining example of how one can give back to their community.”
Lewis is an Air Force veteran who has faithfully served the Bolivar community in many capacities. He was nominated for the award by Gary Christopher of the Bolivar Memorial Chapter 68 of Disabled American Veterans.
For 16 years, Lewis was director of the Bolivar Area Ministerial Alliance and Community Outreach Ministries. He was a charter member of the Bolivar Mayor’s Council on Veteran Affairs, where he created and funded successful programs to help needy veterans and their families.
“Never forgetting his military service and others who have or may be serving, he drove his organization and employees to ever-increasing effectiveness,” Christopher said in his nomination. “Combining the best of personal faith, devoted service and boundless optimism, the food pantry, thrift store, Salvation Army and Community Outreach Ministries are prepared for any future challenge.”
Lewis also serves the communities in his region in times of crisis as the Polk County Emergency Management director and a Southwest Missouri Long Term Recovery committee member. His fundraising prowess led him to successful partnerships with Bolivar veteran service organizations and a key role in organizing that city’s first Veterans Welcome Home celebration in 2013.
Following a luncheon at the Capitol in their honor, Kinder presented each of the recipients with a Veterans Service Award lapel pin and an official declaration from the lieutenant governor’s office recognizing their service to their communities.
“From all over our state, when our nation called, these men and women answered that call and served in the armed forces,” Kinder said. “For many of these veterans, and all of those we honor today, your service didn’t end when your military obligation was over.
“Instead, you all have continued to serve Missouri and your communities, giving back through countless hours of volunteer service.” Kinder said he instituted the Veterans Service Award in 2012 as a way to recognize Missouri’s hometown heroes and shine the spotlight on their selfless service.
“This award is just one small way our state can say, ‘Thank you’ to our veterans and honor the sacrifices they continue to make for their communities and state,” he said.