New York State Senator Mark Grisanti is proud to announce Loretta S. Thomas is the third recipient of his “Veteran of the Month” recognition program.
Retired Colonel Thomas, a resident of the Town of Hamburg, is the third recipient of a monthly honor presented by Senator Grisanti 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,” said Senator Grisanti. “She is a shining example of dedication, hard work and sacrifice and I commend her for her long career of distinguished service.”
Colonel Thomas recently retired from the United States Army Reserve as the deputy division commander of the 98th Division, which has a very large 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, New Jersey 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.
Colonel Thomas 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 masters degree in strategic studies. She has held numerous staff and command positions which always resulted in the highest evaluations and earned her a reputation for taking care of her soldiers while always meeting her mission requirements.
Colonel Thomas was awarded a Legion of Merit medal upon her retirement, a prestigious honor given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements throughout a senior officer’s career. She was also awarded a Bronze Star for her meritorious service and leadership as a battalion commander in a combat zone during her time served in Iraq and received numerous 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. 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.
Colonel Thomas, who is an active member of the American Legion organizations, also spends time engaging in local veterans issues and volunteering for community driven programs that allow her the opportunity to continue her selfless public service.