National Employment Award winners honored at national convention
Assistant Secretary James Rodriguez, Dept. of Texas Historian Shirley Platt, Past Dept. Commander Gerry Hince, Dept. of Texas Commander Gene Toohey, VE&E Commission Chairman John Bowen Sr., CEO Gerard Morales, Director of Talent Acquisition Elle Pallugna, Representative Eric Brown, Senior Director Adam Rocke at the Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, N. C., on Saturday, August 26. Photo by Jennifer Blohm/The American Legion

National Employment Award winners honored at national convention

The National Veterans Employment & Education Commission recognized the 2022 Employer of the Year and Employment Service Award winners on Aug. 26 at The American Legion’s 104th National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Gerard Morales, CEO of Texas Veteran Security, was on hand to receive his company’s award as the Medium-size Employer of the Year. A Marine Corps veteran himself, Morales said Texas Veteran Security was inspired by his father, a Vietnam-era Marine Corps veteran.

“All our veterans that come back, they need somewhere to work. Sometimes it’s transitioning from active duty to school, so we help them with that transition. A lot of these guys end up getting law enforcement jobs, border patrol jobs, things like that, so just really proud to be part of that,” Morales said.

Other award winners receiving their honors in person included Eric Brown of Dallas, Texas, the Local Veterans Employment Representative of the Year; and Elle Pallugna, director of talent acquisition at Harris Health System from Harris County, Texas.

“We were recognized in 2019 but with the pandemic, we were unable to receive this. So I’m very proud to receive this on behalf of Harris Health System,” Pallugna said.

Department of Texas Commander Gene Toohey accepted awards on behalf of other Texas award winners, including Small Employer, TangoAlpha3; Local Office of the Year, Workforce Solutions; and the Enhance the Lives of the Disabled Award winner, PRIDE Industries.

“This award wouldn’t be made possible if not for the prior leadership of the Department of Texas that cares so much about the Veterans Employment Commission,” said Toohey, who was elected department commander in July.

While crediting Texas for its success in the award categories, committee chairman Eric Measles urged commission members to submit more nominees next year.

“These award programs are important to us because what we do is we recognize those businesses that go above and beyond. … Let’s see if we can give Texas a run for their money,” he said.