FOR YOUR SERVICE — Sen. Mark Grisanti is pictured with Loretta Thomas, who was named the veteran of the month for March. Photo submitted by Grisanti’s office.
HAMBURG — New York State Sen. Mark Grisanti has announced that Loretta Thomas is the third recipient of his veteran of the month recognition program.
Thomas, a retired colonel and resident of the town of Hamburg, received the designation, following an application and nomination process coordinated by staff members who work in Grisanti’s veterans liaison office.
“I am pleased to recognize Loretta with this honor, especially because March is National Women’s History Month,” Grisanti said. “She is a shining example of dedication, hard work and sacrifice, and I commend her for her long career of distinguished service.”
Thomas recently retired from the United States Army Reserve as the deputy division commander of the 98th Division, which has a presence in Western New York.
Her 32-year career included several mobilizations, one of which was as a battalion commander in Iraq for 18 months and another involving a two-year stint at Fort Dix, N.J., as the director of training and operations for the power projection platform, which mobilizes and demobilized soldiers, sailors and airmen for the War on Terror.
The Hamburg resident is a graduate of Rider University and was commissioned in the ROTC program. She is also a graduate of the United State Army War College, where she earned a master’s degree in strategic studies. She has held numerous staff and command positions.
Thomas was awarded a Legion of Merit Medal, upon her retirement. This is given for meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements throughout a senior officer’s career, according to the United States Army. She was also awarded a bronze star for her service and leadership as a battalion commander in a combat zone, during her time served in Iraq. She has also received many other honors, including four Meritorious Service Medals, five Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
“What makes Colonel Thomas a role model to many soldiers, including new female recruits, is the fact that she lost her husband in a vehicle accident, nearly 20 years ago,” Grisanti said.
“The couple had only been married for a short time and her husband’s death, who was a major in the United States Army, left her a widow with two young children. She raised them as a single parent, while pursuing the rigorous demands of military life, representing a powerful example for all veterans and citizens of duty, honor and selfless service which exemplifies the modern day volunteer soldier.”
Thomas, a member of American Legion organizations, also spends time engaging in local veterans issues and volunteering for community-driven programs.