TAMPA, Fla.—DAV (Disabled American Veterans) National Commander Stephen “Butch” Whitehead will present the DAV National Commander’s Awards to three devoted and accomplished Department of Veterans Affairs employees for their outstanding commitment to the Veterans Benefits Administration, Veterans Health Administration and National Cemetery Administration, respectively. The winners will be formally recognized Aug. 1 during the 2021 DAV and Auxiliary National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

The Outstanding Veterans Benefits Administration Employee of the Year award will be presented to Navy veteran Ciena Faeth, a change management agent at the Veterans Benefits Administration regional office in St. Petersburg, Florida. Faeth has proven herself to be a versatile and stellar VA employee. Her claims processing experience results in exceptional customer service. Faeth also leverages her many years at the VA to review, analyze and evaluate data, which she translates to best practices and provides recommendations. She also personally assists veterans utilizing the VA’s Veteran Readiness and Employment Service. Faeth joined the department in 2014.

“Ms. Faeth provides incredible service to the 1.5 million veterans in Florida,” said Whitehead. “A jack of all trades, she has proved herself to be the single point of resolution for veterans organizations when unique issues arise. Veterans everywhere are lucky to have Ms. Faeth in their corner.”

Ronald Triolo is this year’s Outstanding Veterans Health Administration Employee. As executive director for the Advanced Platforms Technology Center, overseeing the design, prototyping and production of medical devices for veterans with limb loss. A researcher with over 25 years of experience, Triolo’s work focuses on technology that restores or improves function for individuals with limb trauma, dysfunction or amputation. Despite serving much of his career with the VA, he is a tenured full professor in orthopedics and biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

“Dr. Triolo’s scientific work is as charitable as it is revolutionary,” said Whitehead. “He’s a pioneer in the field of the development of systems that allow individuals with spinal cord injury, stroke or multiple sclerosis not only to stand again but to thrive.”

The Outstanding National Cemetery Administration Employee of the Year award will be presented to Army veteran Greg Smith, grounds maintenance supervisor for the newly opened Cheyenne National Cemetery in Wyoming. He is being recognized not only for his keen ability to plan, organize, direct, review and improve the hallowed ground in which veterans and their family members are buried but also for his cheerful attitude and demeanor. Since November 2020, Smith has completed 33 burials, including one in which the veteran’s body was unaccompanied, prompting Smith to reach out to local veterans organizations in Cheyenne to ensure the veteran would not be laid to rest alone.

“When reaching their final resting place, veterans and their families should be thankful to have someone like Mr. Smith serving them,” said Whitehead. “By ensuring our veterans are laid to rest with respect and dignity, Mr. Smith follows through on our nation’s promise to never stop caring for veterans upon their return home.

“DAV is proud to recognize such worthy individuals who have dedicated their lives to serving veterans,” said Whitehead. “They represent the very best the VA has to offer, and I know veterans everywhere are thankful.”


About DAV
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: keeping our promise to America’s veterans. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them, fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill, providing employment resources to veterans and their families, and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a nonprofit organization with more than 1 million veteran members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932.