A ceremony honoring the Veterans of the Year for 2020 and 2021 will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Wilton-Saratoga Springs Elks Club at 1 Elks Lane in Saratoga Springs.
The event is free and open to the public.
The annual award is co-sponsored by the Friends of the New York State Military Museum and the Capital District of New York Chapter of the Association of the United States Army. There was no Veteran of the Year in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic; therefore the 2020 and 2021 ceremonies are being combined this year.
Presidents of the two co-sponsor organizations will be present for the awards. New York State Senator Jim Tedisco will present the New York State Liberty Medal to each veteran of the year. A proclamation by the Congressman of the Veteran of the Year will be read and remarks by the Adjutant General of the State of New York will be given. Refreshments are being donated by Dunkin' Donuts.
Garth D. Lloyd is the 2020 Veteran of the Year. Garth was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969. He completed basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and then deployed to Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division as an 11B infantryman.
On Feb. 12, 1970, Garth was seriously wounded in action by a booby trap and evacuated to the United States and medically discharged as a Specialist 4th class (SP4). Garth was awarded the Purple Heart, Air Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
After his service, he worked for the City of Saratoga Springs retiring in 2012. Garth volunteered at the Saratoga County VA Mentor Program and is currently a docent at the New York State Military Museum at 61 Lake Avenue in Saratoga Springs. He and his wife, Diane, live in the town of Milton. They have one son and three grandchildren.
Command Sergeant Major (Ret) Robert W. Van Pelt is the 2021 Veteran of the year. He served 42 years in the U.S. Army, Active, Guard and Reserve from 1969 until his retirement in 2011. After basic training at Fort Jackson, SC, and attending Signal School, he deployed to Vietnam as a Fixed Station Automatic Digital Network technical controller assigned to the 1st Signal Brigade, Phu Lam. From Vietnam he deployed to Camp Darby in Coltano, Italy.
Upon discharge from the active Army he joined the New York Army National Guard where, after a few years in the Tennessee National Guard, he returned to New York and rose through the ranks to Command Sergeant Major. Robert's assignments include Command Sergeant Major for the 242 Signal Battalion, 1-101 Cavalry Squadron, 187th Signal Brigade, 53rd Troop Command, 42nd Infantry Division and CSM for the New York National Guard from June 2001 until his retirement in June 2011.
After retirement he continued to serve soldiers as program manager for the New York National Guard Employer Support, organizing job fairs and Yellow Ribbon events for both deploying and returning service members throughout New York. Van Pelt has also served as president and long-time active member of the Association of the United States Army Capital District Chapter. Bob is a passionate volunteer who has given a lifetime of selfless service to the US Army and the nation. He and his wife live in the town of Malta.
(Photo below of our 2018 Veteran of the Year Ceremony with our honoree, Nick Laiacona, and Congressperson Elise Stefanik).