Chapters 1080 and 1059 held a Veterans Day Ceremony and awards presentation on Nov. 6 at Union Correctional Institution (UCI) in Raiford, Florida.
At the 2017 VVA National Convention, Chapter 1080 received two national awards: Incarcerated Chapter of the Year and Incarcerated Member of the Year. The Incarcerated Member of the Year was awarded to Incarcerated Chapter 1080 President, Ed Shook.
Gary Newman, Clay County Chapter 1059 president, presented the award to Shook and Chapter 1080 in an hour long ceremony before a gathering of 100 people at the All Souls Chapel on the campus of UCI.
The keynote speaker was Bob Papa of the Patriots of Valor in Middlesex, New Jersey. He has been ministering to prisoners nationwide, focusing the last 2 1/2-years to approximately 450 incarcerated veterans.
Shook was humbled by the award as Incarcerated Member of the Year which was presented by Newman. Shook credited his chapter members and Newman, who helped start the chapter five years ago after receiving a letter from an inmate at UCI. It was Newman who recommended Shook and the chapter for the national and state honors.
“This reflects on the hard work of the Chapter and the administration,” Shook said. “We are going to celebrate this award and try to continue to uphold the award to never leave our veterans behind.”
Among the accomplishments of Chapter 1080 include the Labor Day weekend three-day walk-a-thon at the prison which raised over $3,200 in pledges. Shook and the chapter made two presentations of $1,600 — to the Lake Butler Sixth Grade Middle School and Clay House for homeless veterans in Veterans Treatment County system in Clay County. They had 254 walkers participate, walking 1,441 miles.
At the ceremony, Newman also presented seven dog harnesses to the Baker County Correctional Institution for their dog training program which is based on the UCI program.
“This is giving back to the community to help get the dogs trained so they can be turned over to people in the community,” Newman said.
“To become the 2016 Florida State Council’s Member of the Year it takes leadership, cooperation and decision making,” Newman said. “It takes a lot of responsibility. You are all part ownership of the award.”