A retired Army colonel and combat wounded Vietnam War veteran, Gill Ruderman, has been selected as veteran of the year by the Manatee County Veterans Council.
Don Courtney, past chairman of the council, recommended Ruderman for the honor based on his long history of service to veterans in Manatee County.
“There is no veteran in Manatee County who has volunteered to help veterans more over the past several years,” Courtney wrote in his recommendation.
Ruderman served as vice chair of the veterans council for four years, has headed up the Veterans Educating Students program for six years, and has served on the Veterans Day planning committee for four years. He is also a volunteer at Southeastern Guide Dogs, at Sarasota National Cemetery and at Tidewell Hospice.
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Also selected Thursday were auxiliary member of the year, Sharon Spry, and civilian of the year, Adell Erozer, executive director for Turning Points.
There is no veteran in Manatee County who has volunteered to help veterans more over the past several years.
Don Courtney said of Gill Ruderman
Spry, as regent of the Manatee Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution, was recognized for encouraging DAR members to support veterans projects, including Christmas and Thanksgiving food baskets for Manasota Operation Troop Support, Stamps for the Wounded, Wreaths Across America, and Paws for Patriots.
“But the project closest to her heart is honoring our Vietnam veterans,” wrote Kathy M. Doddridge, registrar of the Manatee DAR. “Regent Spry has been involved with the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War since the Partner Program was presented to the DAR almost two years ago.”
Spry has prepared the certificates and the packets that have been presented to almost 200 veterans.
Erozer, recommended for her award by Stuart A. Taube, vice chairman of the Veterans Council, was recognized for leading efforts to assist homeless veterans, as well as non-veterans and their families.
“Adell is also responsible for the creation, and organization of the annual Manatee County Stand Down. Historically, this event has been the largest veteran and community homeless outreach, going on 19 years now,” Taube wrote.
This year’s Stand Down is set for 8 a.m.-noon Nov. 5 at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto.
“Everything is going well,” said Derrick Heard, director of the Yellow Ribbon program serving veterans at Turning Points, of plans for the Stand Down.
At the Stand Down, homeless people can get breakfast, showers, haircuts, driver licenses or identification papers, counseling and more.
A separate area at the fairgrounds for vets will be used for counseling on their benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In other business:
- John Rosentrater, director of Sarasota National Cemetery, said that the cemetery will mark its eighth anniversary in January. Since the cemetery opened, more than 14,000 veterans and eligible family members now rest there.
- Don Courtney discussed the council’s Veterans Day service Nov. 11. The parade will assemble at 8:40 a.m. at the county fairgrounds and step out toward Sutton and Lamb Park in Palmetto at 10:15 a.m. The Veterans Day service is set for 11 a.m.