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Ross honored for service

Pike County Veterans Affairs Service Officer Randy Ross was selected the 2009 State Veterans Affairs Service Officer of the Year. He received the award at the American Legion’s Annual State Convention in Mobile June 25-27.

Ross has served Pike County as its veterans service officer for 11 years and also served as the itinerate veterans affairs service officer for Crenshaw County for nine years and is currently serving as the itinerate veterans affairs service officer for Coffee County.

Braxton Bridges, American Legion state adjutant, said Ross was nominated by his district supervisor, Marshall Smith, for his commitment and dedication to his job and to his outstanding involvement in community affairs outside his job.

“Randy continually does the extra things that demonstrate his outstanding care and concern for veterans and his dedication to his job,” Bridges said. “In 2008, Randy organized an Honor Ride to Washington for the veterans from the Pike County area … and he went with them.

“He takes part in the annual Veterans Day Breakfast at the Troy Nutrition Center and the Veterans Day program and Memorial Day services in the country. He also participated in the Yellow Ribbon campaign to welcome soldiers back from Iraq. Randy makes sure that veterans are aware of the benefits to which they are entitled. He covers all the bases for them. He’s an all around outstanding guy who does an all around outstanding job for our veterans.”

Ross said he was both humbled and honored to be recognized for the job that is “the most fulfilling work that I have ever done.”

“The day that I got the call saying I had the job as the veterans affairs service officer in Pike County was one of the most exciting days of my life,” Ross said. “In these 11 years, there has never been a day that I didn’t want to get up and go to work. The job is so fulfilling because we have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the veterans that we serve. The benefits they receive positively impact their lives.

“It’s always nice to be recognized for the work that you do, and my hope is that what I do is a benefit to those we serve.”

Ross said that the rewards of a veterans affairs service officer are many.

“For me, the interviews with our veterans and hearing their stories bring history to life,” he said.

“One of the most gratifying opportunities has been to travel to Washington with veterans of World War II and see, first hand, what the WWII Memorial means to them and to share the camaraderie of the other veterans.

“There’s a thread that binds the veterans of all branches of service and of all wars. Our veterans are a unique and honored group. We owe them our freedoms.”

Ross thanked the American Legion for the honor and the state of Alabama for giving him the opportunity to serve.

Ross is a native of Brundidge and a graduate of Troy University.

He was active duty with the Navy and served aboard the aircraft carrier Saratoga in the Gulf of Tonkin during the war in Vietnam.

He retired from the Navy Reserve after 20 years.