BUFFALO (August 19, 2015)—Former Erie County Sheriff and Korean War veteran Thomas F. Higgins and Vets 4 Vets will receive the individual and organizational awards during the 5th annual Louis R. Palma Veterans Appreciation Tribute Award Ceremony on Saturday, August 29 at 1 p.m. in the Hall of Honor building at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.
Laura A. Zaepfel, Vice President of Uniland Development Company, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Naval & Military Park’s Board of Directors, will Chair this event.
“It gives us great pleasure at the Naval & Military Park to recognize an individual and organization each year that has gone above and beyond in their efforts to assist our veterans and their families,” Ms. Zaepfel goes on to say. “We look for a veteran who has, upon return to civilian life, continued to demonstrate exemplary service to our country and community. We also seek organizations that have served our veterans and their families over an extended period of time.”
Thomas F. Higgins, former Erie County Sheriff and United States Marine Corporal dutifully served our country during the Korean War from 1951-54. During that time his division was ordered to guard against an attack on South Korea while peace talks were underway.
Although many veterans and journalists reflect on the Korean War as America’s “forgotten war” because it was waged a few years after World War II, Higgins has consistently devoted resources to the care and recognition of WNY’s Korean War veterans through a variety of ways. Over the years he has spent considerable time with Korean War veterans and specifically, veterans from his 2nd Marine Division—East Coast Chapter. He also led the committee to create, fund and build the Korean War Memorial on the grounds of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.
As a civilian, Higgins entered the law enforcement field and rose the ranks to become Sheriff of Erie County which he retired from in 1997. He has worked tirelessly to garner support and raise awareness and funds for the military community and for those Korean War veterans who fought so bravely so others could live with peace, freedom and dignity.
Vets 4 Vets is a non-profit outreach program that works in conjunction with the Buffalo Department of Veterans Affairs (The VA). Among their service goals is the effort to assist veterans in receiving their VA benefits. Over the past six years, Vets 4 Vets has worked tirelessly to obtain numerous donations that directly helped our veterans including food for them and their families; clothing and shelter. This service group is obtaining recognition for their outstanding contributions to such agencies as the Wounded Warriors, the VA Family Day at the Naval & Military Park, the national Veterans’ Golden Age Games and to women veterans and their families.
Vets 4 Vets collects and distributes baby supplies to visitors of the Women’s Wellness Center at the VA and they have donated gift cards for Vets, they have paid overdue gas or electric bills and they have assisted veterans with their monthly rent or mortgage payments.