'I'm very humbled:' Man who spent 24 years in Navy earns 'Veteran of the Year' honors

STURTEVANT -- There are roughly 45,000 veterans in southeast Wisconsin today. But only one of them can be awarded the "Veteran of the Year" award.

In a single, tiny room, numerous veterans and their supporters showed up on Thursday, Nov. 7 to see what was going to be the first-ever "Veteran of the year" winner in the 1st Congressional District.

"The 'Veteran of the Year' award was built on service, on excellence, and on dedication," said Congressman Bryan Steil, whose office administers the distinction.

"We had over 30 nominations. We brought it down to three finalists," Steil said.

As with any award, there can only be one winner.

Dick Vallin with Rep. Bryan Steil

"And today, we recognized Dick Vallin as the winner of our 'Veteran of the Year' award," Steil said.

Vallin is a man whose friends call "Commander" -- and who spent 24 years in the Navy.

Dick Vallin

"I'm going to be quite frank, I'm very humbled. Because there's a lot of other people who are just as well qualified, and should have had the honor just as much as myself," Vallin said.

Citing Vallin's lengthy career of service to our country, Congressman Steil also emphasized Vallin's commitment to helping veterans transition back into the workforce -- often hiring them in his company or helping them find meaningful employment elsewhere. It is a commitment that Vallin said is a no-brainer.

"The one thing that I always remembered being in command, and second in command, is take care of the troops because they are what makes it go. Not the top, but everybody on board ship," Vallin said.

If you know of a veteran deserving of this award, the application process for next year has already opened up. CLICK HERE for more information.