Local VFW honors Craig’s Emergency Service Responders

Craig County’s local Veterans of Foreign War honors a person from each category annually for their exceptional service to the community and area of expertise. From left to right, Billy Lee – Post Commander, Amber Charette – Emergency Medical Technician of the Year, Jerry Overton – Fireman of the Year, Deputy Jesse Crowder – Officer of the Year and Bill Burleson – Post Quartermaster.

Pam Dudding
Contributing writer

People say they don’t really know their Emergency personnel in a county until they are personally called upon. The Craig County community has repeatedly shared that they are blessed to have the dedicated and talented individuals serving them, responding in not only a short time, but with care, integrity and excellence.

On Monday, December 9, the local members of the Craig Veterans of Foreign War Post #4491, met together to honor various Emergency personnel.

Each year, the VFW Post opens the nominations for Policeman of the Year, Fireman of the Year and Emergency Medical Technician of the Year. People are encouraged to send in letters of recommendation for each award.

“We feel this is a small part of what every one of the emergency workers deserve,” VFW members said. “They are always there for us and serving us at the drop of a phone call.”

The winner of the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) of the Year Award was Amber Charette. The person who nominated Charette wrote, “Amber has been a paramedic for over a year now and took time away from her family to achieve this certification, which takes almost a year to complete. Amber has been working for Craig County Emergency Services full-time for a year now. She has great patient contact skills and has a great skill set when dealing with the public. Amber was a volunteer for CCRS for several years, she started out as an EMT-B then became an Intermediate before proceeding to Paramedic. I believe that Amber has shown how dedicated she is to the EMS system for the citizens of Craig County by the amount of time she has taken to become a paramedic.”

Charette said she was extremely honored to be the one chosen for this award and was in “complete shock” when she was told it was her. “We have some amazing providers in our county and to be named EMS Provider of the Year is a huge blessing and makes me very thankful,” she said before adding, “I can’t express my gratitude to the VFW, Craig County Emergency Services and all of those who helped me along the way. It’s truly an honor serving the county I grew up in and love as a paramedic, and an even bigger blessing I get to do it as my career.”

Jerry Overton was honored as Fireman of the Year of the Simmonsville Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) at Station 3 where he has been a member since it formed in March of 1976. Wrote Chief Brian Lipes, “Overton was Chief of the department for more than 20 years and did a great job in handling the department. SVFD has made many great strides over the years and Jerry has been a major part of the growth and development of the department. He made sacrifices in getting the most up to date training for the members of the department in his years of holding the position of Chief. He continues to be active in the everyday functions of the fire department, even after 43 years.”

Officer of the Year was awarded to Deputy Jesse Crowder. Sherriff Trevor Craddock wrote a letter to nominate Deputy Crowder who was employed in May of 2018 and graduated from Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy in October of 2018. After that, he continued to complete the Court Security/Civil Process Basic School in February of 2019 and Field Training in March.

“Deputy Crowder has been exemplary in his performance as a Deputy Sheriff. He promotes highway safety by keeping our highways safe with his daily patrols and enforcements of Virginia’s traffic and driving under the influence laws as well as his ability to locate illegal drugs and enforce our drug laws. Although Deputy Crowder has only been with us for a short time, the impact of his work ethic is evident in his ability to protect our community. Deputy Crowder is an asset to the Craig County Sheriff’s Office as well as Craig County.”

Deputy Crowder noted that he was honored to be selected as Officer of the Year. “I would like to thank the members of the VFW for presenting me with the award,” he said.

Each winner was presented with an appreciation certificate, signed by both Billy Lee, Post Commander and Bill Burleson, Quartermaster and received a gift card.

Drinks and desserts were served while the handshakes and appreciation conversations took place.

“We really appreciate all of these men who serve our community,” additional VFW members noted.

They added, “We can’t thank them enough for always being there when we need them. All of them are not only great citizens, but great friends as well.”

The room was filled with laughter and joyous conversations. It appeared that true community, with respect and honor, was ever so present amongst everyone.