JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KFVS) - Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder presented Veterans Service Awards to 35 Missouri veterans on Tuesday, who provide exemplary volunteer service to their communities.
Winners were selected from around the state and included four winners from Southeast Missouri: Dr. Farrah McSpadden of Poplar Bluff; Ruth Ann Skaggs of Fredericktown; Doug Sweet of Park Hills; and Roger Wheeler Sr. of Kennett.
McSpadden, served in the 249th Combat Support Hospital in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She was nominated for the Veterans Service Award by Missouri Sen. Doug Libla of Poplar Bluff.
In addition to balancing her time as an OB/GYN, a mother and a wife, Major McSpadden gives back to the Poplar Bluff community by volunteering to serve on her local Health Department board, the Van Buren Community Center board and by performing sports physicals for young athletes in Poplar Bluff.
Dr. McSpadden was unable to attend Tuesday's ceremony at the Capitol, and Lt. Governor Kinder will present her award sometime in the future in her hometown.
Skaggs, an Army veteran, was nominated by Julianne Kline of Farmington. Since she returned to her hometown after serving in the Army, Skaggs has been an integral member of many organizations in Fredericktown.
She serves on the Madison Medical Center Hospital Board and the City of Fredericktown Planning and Zoning Commission. She is the recording secretary of Historical Madison County, where she produces and distributes a monthly newsletter, volunteers weekly int eh association's museum, helps produce numerous publications and contributes to educational exhibits.
"Ruth Ann Skaggs has been an indefatigable force for community betterment in Madison County for over 20 years," said Kline in her nomination. "She has been a diligent, determined and assiduous volunteer, and having served her country in the U.S. Army, now serves her community with unparalleled zeal and commitment."
Skaggs is a founding board member of the Fredericktown Revitalization Initiative, serves as treasurer and board member for the Southeast Missouri SWAT challenge and sponsors Heroes on Holiday Patrol, a shopping event for children in need. She is involved in many other organizations, including Qest Club, Quilt Guild, 4-H, MU Extension Council and historic preservation.
Sweet is a disabled Army veteran who was injured in Iraq in 2004. He was nominated by Lorrett Hagan of St. Francois County VFW Post 2426 in Desloge.
Hagan said that since his forced retirement from the Army, Sweet has devoted his life to serving veterans in his community, volunteering 70-80 hours per week. He has held the positions of chaplain, judge advocate, senior vice commander and commander. He also has served as the district junior vice commander and senior vice commander of the VFW of Missouri and as district captain and chaplain for the VFW Riders of Missouri District 8. Sweet has received numerous national and state awards from the VFW.
"Under Dennis' leadership, membership at the post has nearly doubled and it has been transformed from a troubled post to the VFW's All-American No. 1 Post of Division 4 of the United States," Hagan said.
Wheeler served in the U.S. Navy from 1958-1962. He was nominated by the City of Kennett.
Wheeler is very active in Kennett, volunteering as a Boy Scout leader, as a city council member and mayor in 2007, as the current finance chairman for the city and on the Delta Fair Board for the past 25 years.
"He also is president of the Rotary Club and commander for the Kennett American Legion Post," said Kinder. "Under his leadership, the group last year held its first appreciation dinner for the Kennett Police and Fire Departments."
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.