ORLANDO, Fla. – DAV (Disabled American Veterans) 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. The winners will be formally recognized on Sunday, Aug. 7, during the 2022 DAV and Auxiliary National Convention in Orlando, Florida.

DAV National Commander Andy Marshall will present the DAV National Commander’s Award to each recipient.

The Outstanding Veterans Health Administration Employee of the Year award will be presented to Army veteran Ashley Lowry. Lowry, an intensive care unit nurse at the John J. Cochran Hospital in St. Louis, and a veteran of the war in Iraq, volunteered for extra shifts and didn’t let the challenges of COVID-19 get between her and her patients’ bedsides in their times of need. She is an active DAV member and works to help veterans in the community, just as she was helped by DAV years ago after separating from the military.

“Ms. Lowry’s selfless service and compassion in the face of adversity is a shining example of the kind of experience veterans deserve at any medical facility,” said Marshall. “She has shown a commitment to care without thought for herself, adding to the best traditions of quality VA medical care.”


The Outstanding Veterans Benefit Administration Employee of the Year award will be presented to Rebecca A. Brenen. Brenen is the veteran service center manager for the VA in Los Angeles, where she works passionately to ensure the nation’s duty to care for those who gave so much is fulfilled. Lowry has assisted DAV benefits experts in helping correct errors found in veterans claims, and she helps make DAV and other organizations aware of issues veterans are having in accessing their earned benefits.

“Ms. Brenen has been a true friend to veterans and an avid DAV partner,” Marshall said. “She has vigorously worked to fulfill the country’s promises to care for our men and women who served.”


The Outstanding National Cemetery Administration Employee of the Year award will be presented to retired Air Force veteran James LaPaglia. LaPaglia works as a digital services chief and leads the Veterans Legacy Memorial program, an online area where personal stories, remembrances and honors are shared in lasting tributes to individual veterans. Because of LaPaglia’s forward-thinking push before the program’s 2019 launch to ensure an easy-to-access interactive space, family members and friends of deceased veterans were able to express their grief online in spite of the challenges posed by COVID-19. So far, more than 30,000 memories have been shared through the program.

“Mr. LaPaglia ensured the Veterans Legacy Memorial program was highly visible to the public during the difficulties of the pandemic,” said Marshall. “He has enabled thousands to grieve and extoll the virtues of each deceased veteran who sacrificed for this country.”

“DAV is proud to recognize such worthy individuals who have dedicated their lives to serving veterans,” said Marshall. “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 members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at DAV.org.