ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 13, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a remarkable and inspirational display of unity and patriotism among government, business and community leaders, the PenFed Foundation honored veterans and their families last night at its annual Night of Heroes Gala.
Among the top honorees were Julie Keys, who accepted the Hero at Home award from her son, retired Army Staff Sgt. Adam Keys, and Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg, who was presented with the foundation's Military Hero Award.
"I'm very pleased and proud that the PenFed Foundation could play a role in organizing the gala and honoring the award recipients," said Foundation President and CEO James Schenck. "But it's important to remember that this event is the result of a profoundly unified effort by many key partners and numerous volunteers. We could never have done this without the generosity and support of our corporate sponsors, local benefactors and dedicated Soldiers and veterans. It's a dynamic and heartfelt example of what disparate groups can accomplish by joining forces and working together to reach a common and extremely important goal."
That goal, Schenck said, is to actively and aggressively help military community members secure their financial future by providing active duty military, veterans and their families with the resources they need to improve their lives through programs covering a wide range of financially oriented issues.
The black-tie event—which was planned, organized and executed by a group consisting of 90 percent volunteers—drew 600 military, government and industry leaders nationwide. Nearly every dollar of the record breaking $1.25 million raised last night will go towards helping service members and their caregivers to find the financial security they so thoroughly deserve.
In his remarks, United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Robert McDonald, stressed the role the VA's partnership with the PenFed Foundation will play in reaching his goal to enhance service at the VA. "Integrating best practices from private industry can help us reach our goal to make the VA number one for customer service. And we are working closer than ever with the PenFed Foundation."
Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Deborah Lee James thanked the PenFed Foundation for leadership in serving wounded warriors, promoting financial literacy and filling in the gaps in government coverage. "Whether its providing interest-free emergency loans, or support for wounded veterans and their families, helping to purchase a home or free lodging for veterans undergoing treatment at the VA in Palo Alto, California, PenFed has been there," she said. The evening's honorees were recognized for their service and sacrifice at home, in the community, and for the nation.
Julie Keys spent more than five years living in a hotel in order to be near Staff Sgt. Keys as he endured multiple surgeries while recovering from wounds received in combat. "I just did what I had to do—what we all would do," she said. Summing up her tenacity as an advocate for her son, she said, "He's my child, and I will fight you to give him the very best that you can give him."
Groberg, reflecting on his combat experience and the Medal of Honor, said, "I'm just honored that I was given the opportunity to serve my country as a Soldier. In a time when our enemies are trying to disrupt our way of life, I had the opportunity to face them and tell them that I'm not going to fold. This medal I wear around my neck could never represent one individual. I hope that for the rest of my life, I get to earn the right to call myself an American."
Another honoree was Joe Plumeri, vice chairman of the First Data board of directors, who received the Community Hero Award.
"Our country is such an exceptional place," Plumeri said in accepting the award. "What greater value can we provide to our country than to honor the people who protect us and serve us every day? I will tell you that I have roamed the world. I have had the good fortune to have been at many events in many countries, and believe it or not, things like this [gala] don't exist any place else. There are no organizations like PenFed that does the things that they do."
About the PenFed Foundation
Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to helping members of our military community secure their financial future. It provides service members, veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, credit-building, home ownership, and short-term assistance. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. The credit union funds the foundation's personnel and most operational costs, demonstrating its strong commitment to the programs the foundation provides. To learn more, visit: www.penfedfoundation.org.
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SOURCE PenFed Foundation