A St. Bonaventure University education professor has been nationally recognized for his work with veterans.
“The award has only existed for a few years,” Gibbs said. “Considering that the competition was on a national level, and I was the first recipient to receive the Evans Award from New York, it’s an exciting feeling to have this accomplishment.”
Gibbs wasn’t aware of the honor until he arrived at the convention. His nomination came from a member in the Binghamton area.
“The people who host the convention don’t reveal who the recipient is ahead of time,” Gibbs said. “And, I have attended this specific convention for the last five years, so I didn’t think too much about it when I attended in August. This year, when I was recognized as the honorary guest is when I discovered that I won the award.”
Gibbs has actively served as Legislative Chairman for the Sons of the American Legion in New York for the last seven years.
“I specifically received the award for my legislative work,” Gibbs said. “Part of my duties as Legislative Chairmen include writing a monthly column for our statewide newsletter on legislative issues. Also, I plan and organize an annual trip to Washington, D.C. for any members who wish to go to visit their congressman. Aside from that, I prepare a written and oral report at statewide meetings and conventions on legislative issues.”
Gibbs said that the most rewarding piece of work that he has accomplished on behalf of veterans is successfully passing the Stolen Valor Act, which states that it’s a felony to claim you are a decorated veteran when in fact you are not.
Gibbs explained why this act is essential for the rights of veterans, and how it affects veterans if someone disrespects the act.
“This may not sound like much of a big deal to other people, but to those who earned their decorations (Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Distinguished Flying Cross) through risking their lives, it matters a lot that no one else can claim to be a decorated vet,” Gibbs said.
From his accomplishment and experience, Gibbs said he learned that people can make a difference if they simply pursue a passion that they believe in.
“The most rewarding part is knowing that one person can make a difference,” Gibbs said. “One person visiting their congressman and asking him or her to support a bill and having them listen and react. Last year there were over 946,000 bills going through the Senate and the House that contained the words veteran or military. No congressman can effectively know all about all those resolutions.”
Gibbs was excited to see that he had helped push through a law that would help other veterans in the future.
“It is our job as members of the Sons of The American Legion to get out there and support our veterans and active military,” Gibbs said. “It was rewarding to see that I made a difference this year and those that were with me have that same exact feeling of pride that what we did worked.”