DALLAS – Army & Air Force Exchange Service Director/CEO Tom Shull received the Spirt of Oklahoma Outstanding Veteran Supporter of the Year award from the state of Oklahoma, Military Order of the Purple Heart and Oklahoma Veterans Support Team.
Retired Navy Master Chief Larry Van Schuyver, Military Order of the Purple Heart representative and chairman of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission, presented the award during a virtual ceremony attended by 72d Mission Support Group Commander Col. Linda Hoover and 72d Air Base Wing Vice Commander Col. Michael Tiemann on Nov. 10.
“Your entire staff at [the Exchange] follows your example of kindness, service, honor and integrity,” Van Schuyver said to Shull. “We are so blessed to be part of the Exchange. I count you as a mentor, and I thank you.”
Military Order of the Purple Heart chapters 589, 902, 602, 820, and 641 voted to present the award, the state’s highest honor for Veteran supporters, in recognition of the Exchange’s robust employment of Veterans and Wounded Warriors. Past Spirit of Oklahoma award recipients include state Sens. Frank Simpson and Paul Rosino.
Van Schuyver presented two other awards during the ceremony: Associate Volunteer of the Year, awarded to Tinker Air Force Base Exchange Services Operations Assistant Dan Shibe; and Business Supporter of the Year, awarded to the Tinker AFB Exchange.
“None of us ever wants to shed blood for our country, but for those Purple Heart recipients who have made that sacrifice, we have the highest, highest regard,” Tiemann said. “To have an award like this bestowed upon our Exchange makes this a truly a great day for Tinker, our community and all those who represent our armed forces.”
In addition to his role with the Oklahoma Veterans Commission, Van Schuyver operates Sittin’ Pretty USA, an Exchange concessionaire that uses proceeds from the sale of military and Veteran pride apparel to support in-need Veterans across Oklahoma.
“It is truly a privilege to serve with amazing teammates like Larry, who are all in to honor our Nation’s Warfighters past, present and future,” Shull said. “The Exchange is humbled by this tremendous recognition, which would not have been possible without the efforts of Dan and his Tinker Exchange teammates to serve those who serve.”
The Exchange is committed to hiring 50,000 Veterans and military spouses—more than 47,000 have been hired so far. About 10.4% of Exchange employees are Veterans, and the Exchange has hired more than 1,640 Wounded Warriors since 2010.