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Twelve Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Employees To Receive Governor’s Awards for Excellence


Annville, PA - Tomorrow, Governor Tom Wolf will present 12 members of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) with Governor’s Awards for Excellence for their work to improve the lives of Pennsylvania’s nearly 800,000 veterans, the fourth largest veteran population in the nation.

The awards recognize commonwealth employees for exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation, and increased efficiency. The DMVA 12 employees are among 50 award recipients across 12 agencies honored for their exceptional accomplishments in 2021.

“I am so proud of our twelve employees who have earned this prestigious award. Our dedicated workforce strives daily to improve the lives of veterans and their families. Today they are recognized for their excellence,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA. “This diverse group of employees exemplify our mission of serving those that served. Congratulations and well done!”

Veteran Outreach Team

Ten members of DMVA’s veteran outreach team are being recognized for their dedicated advocacy and networking across the commonwealth. They are: Samantha Crossman of Bellefonte, Centre County; Daniel Dudkiewicz of Ashley, Luzerne County; Chelsea Ellsworth of Fairview, Erie County; Susan Meighen of Washington, Washington County; Erica Lynn Moore of Harrisburg, Dauphin County; Zachariah Pearson formerly of Smethport, McKean County; Zackary Portser of Johnstown, Cambria County; Jennifer Spitler of Thompson, Susquehanna County; James Stafford of Lancaster, Lancaster County; and Craig Swineford of Duncansville, Blair County.

Veterans and their family members face a wide variety of needs after their service, from reintegration to civilian life to aging-related concerns. There are many programs and support services that can be leveraged to address these varied needs, but only work if veterans know they exist. That is where DMVA’s energetic and focused veteran outreach team has excelled. The team has successfully removed barriers to these services by uncovering, raising awareness of, and streamlining connection to resources across the commonwealth. They have done this primarily through an innovative DMVA initiative called PA VETConnect, an outreach program allowing DMVA to concentrate on delivering services from within the communities where veterans live. It also allows DMVA to utilize community-based providers to fill gaps in services. Thanks to PA VETConnect and these dedicated employees, thousands of veterans are getting the services they need and living better lives.  

Veteran Suicide Prevention Lead

Richard C. Hamp of Fostoria, Lebanon County, is the special assistant to DMVA’s deputy adjutant general for Veterans Affairs. He is the agency’s key advocate for reducing veteran suicide across the commonwealth. Hamp is Pennsylvania’s lead on the federal Veterans Administration – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ​and the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and Their Families. He works diligently, building strong collaboration between government, non-government, and non-profit partners to help veterans in their communities, including taking the initiative to write grant proposals resulting in over $7 million for programs that help veterans in crisis. Hamp has been instrumental in rolling out several veteran suicide awareness programs and most recently served as a subject-matter expert on the DMVA’s virtual town hall on preventing veteran suicide.

Veterans Homes Leader

Barbara Raymond of Erie, Erie County, is the director of DMVA’s Bureau of Veterans Homes. When COVID-19 presented more challenges than ever, Raymond stood out by showing strong leadership, optimism, teamwork, and risk mitigation. Without hesitation, she dedicated more than 18 months to leaving her post as commandant at the Pennsylvania Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in Erie, to assist and lead the staff at the Southeastern Veterans’ Center in Philadelphia with its increased clinical demands. In typical fashion, Raymond led by example, boldly tackling problems without losing one ounce of compassion. Raymond developed trust and confidence from residents, families, and staff, and was instrumental in the agency’s COVID-19 mitigation response, vaccine rollout and education efforts.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Butera - 717-861-2178

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