LSU alumnus and Vietnam veteran Heyward Jeffers III will be the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Military Honor Award from the Folds of Honor Foundation on Sunday for his military service and service for his fellow veterans and their families.
Jeffers, a 1973 LSU graduate and 1992 graduate from the Southern University Law Center, works as a senior staff attorney in the state Senate, according to a news release from LSU.
He was chosen to receive the award by the Folds of Honor Foundation Patriot Shootout Distinguished Military Service Selection Committee.
He is the second recipient of the award.
“I was shocked, surprised and then when it started to sink in, I was very humbled,” he said. “I talked to the Folds of Honor people and they said they wanted an unsung hero and I’m pretty unsung.”
Committee Chairman Bret Pinson said the award honors those who served their country honorably and who continue to support the troops and veterans after their service ends.
“The work that he’s done has or will affect every Louisiana veteran in this state,” Pinson said.
As a staff attorney, Jeffers handles veterans affairs for the Senate, writes resolutions honoring the fallen each year since 2005 and works with legislators on bills affecting veterans and their families.
One bill they are working on now would allow veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries to bring a service dog into businesses, as blind people are allowed to do.
He said service dogs have been shown to help veterans cope and adapt to life after war.
Capt. William T. Congers, the first recipient of the award and a committee member, said in an email that Jeffers served “gallantly on the battlefield overseas” and continues to fight for veterans rights and benefits in Louisiana.
“Heyward Jeffers is an excellent example of our military motto ‘We will leave no one behind,’ which extends far beyond the battlefield,” Congers wrote.
The award is given in memory of Staff Sgt. William Austin Daniel, a Baton Rouge native who died at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston on Sept. 7, 2009.
Jeffers joined the U.S. Army in 1967 after graduating from Baton Rouge High School, according to the LSU news release. In Vietnam, he was part of a team that rescued three medical personnel badly wounded during attacks on Pleiku on Aug. 23, 1968.
All three medical personnel survived.
For his bravery during the war, Jeffers received several honors, including the Army Commendation Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze campaign service stars.
He briefly covered politics at the Capitol for The Associated Press upon graduation from LSU before joining the Senate staff as a public information officer for 12 years.
Folds of Honor provides help to families of soldiers killed or wounded in action through scholarships and other financial assistance.