State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) today announced that he has selected Dawn R. Smith, Transition and Care Management (TCM) Program Manager at the Bath VA Medical Center and a well-known local veterans advocate, as his 2016 New York State Senate “Woman of Distinction.”
Smith will represent O’Mara’s 58th District at the Senate’s 18th Annual “Women of Distinction” tribute in the Legislative Office Building in Albany. She will be recognized along with more than 60 other honorees representing senatorial districts from across New York.
“Dawn Smith has served our nation with honor and distinction, and now she’s devoting her compassion, expertise and total commitment to the care, recognition and well-being of regional veterans,” said O’Mara. “She’s a true patriot who understands the sacrifices veterans have made for America and works day in and day out to help secure the care and respect that our veterans have earned and deserve. It’s truly an honor for me to have this opportunity to have the New York State Senate pay tribute to Dawn as a ‘Woman of Distinction.’”
Born and raised in Hammondsport, New York, Smith served in the United States Army from 1981-84 and 1986-87 as an Electronic Warfare/Signal Intelligence Voice Interpreter. She was honorably discharged with the rank of Specialist.
Following her discharge, Smith attended Angelo State University (BA) and New Mexico State University (MSW) while raising two children and serving a long tour of duty as a military spouse.
She has been employed at the Bath VA Medical Center since 2005 and currently serves as Transition and Care Management (TCM) Program Manager (formerly known as OEF/OIF/OND). Among many responsibilities, she ensures that enrolled veterans have a smooth transition into the VA health care system and receive the care they need, along with conducting numerous outreach and Welcome Home events for local National Guard and Reserve units deployed overseas.
Smith works closely with regional Veterans Service Officers, Veterans Counselors and local service organizations coordinating activities and spending countless hours working within communities to assist veterans and their families access all of the benefits they have earned and deserve. She is widely acknowledged and admired as the “go-to” contact when veterans or Service Officers have questions about a veteran’s VA health care.
O’Mara, who solicits districtwide nominations for the annual tribute, said that Smith was nominated this year by her father, Ona, and by Denis Oliver, a Service Officer at the Steuben County Veterans Service Agency.
Ona Smith said, “The fact that Dawn is my daughter had nothing to do with my nominating her, but being a disabled veteran and witnessing firsthand her dedication to and compassion for the men and women who have answered the call to serve was my number one reason. She has earned the deepest respect and love from our family and friends.”
Oliver said, "I have had the distinct pleasure and privilege of working closely with Dawn for over a decade. She is a shining example of putting service before self. She cares deeply about the veterans she helps and willingly goes above and beyond to make sure no veteran is ever left behind or forgotten. Dawn has such a positive attitude that she inspires all who are around her. I am truly honored to call her my friend!"
In 2009 Ms. Smith was instrumental in founding and organizing a seven-county Veterans Recognition/Welcome Home Event which has become increasingly popular and for the past several years has been held as “Military Appreciation Day” at Watkins Glen International to honor and thank local veterans and their families for their service and sacrifices.
In 2014, Smith received a Congressional Commendation from United State Representative Tom Reed.
Smith and her husband, Brian, who is retired from the Air Force and also works at the Bath VA, currently reside in Watkins Glen, New York.
The Senate's annual "Women of Distinction" program, which began in March to coincide with Women's History Month in New York State, allows senators statewide to select one honoree from their respective legislative districts for this distinguished, statewide tribute.
O’Mara’s past honorees have been:
-- in 2011, Carol Berry of Hornell, a longstanding regional library professional and director of the Dormann Library in Bath;
-- in 2012, Virginia “Ginny” Houseknecht of Watkins Glen, a longtime area Cornell Cooperative Extension educator and leader, and founder of the Southern Tier Parkinson’s Disease Support Group;
-- in 2013, Beverly “Bev” Stamp, co-owner and operator of Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen, a long-time and beloved ambassador of New York State’s nationally and internationally renowned wine and grape industry; and
-- in 2014, Lauren R. Snyder, a public health professional from Penn Yan who served as the Yates County Public Health Director for 28 years before retiring in 2009; and
-- last year, Linda Thomas, owner and operator of the Wellsburg Diner and recipient of a prestigious “Small Business Excellence Award” from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Dawn Smith and her husband, Brian, who is retired from the Air Force and also works at the Bath VA, currently reside in Watkins Glen, New York.