Honoring Those Who Secure Our Freedom
Every year during March we present the Freedom Award to outstanding female veterans who live in Rockland County for their service to our nation, and the importance of awards like this one cannot be overstated. Acknowledging those who have sacrificed to protect the freedoms we enjoy is crucial, particularly women whose contributions to building and protecting our country have long been overlooked.
This month I had the honor and privilege of presenting the 2020, 2021 and 2022 Freedom Awards to three remarkable women.
United States Army Veteran Vanessa Melanson is our 2020 awardee.
Lieutenant Colonel Vanessa Melanson served as an officer in the United States Army Medical Service Corps as a Principal Investigator for biodefense research in the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). Her research helped develop vaccines for viruses including Ebola and Marburg, but her heroic contributions didn’t end there. This hero also served as Chief of the Diagnostics and Laboratory Services in Entomology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research before then going on to become a professor at the United States Military Academy, West Point. After 14 years of active duty, Melanson went into the reserves where she still serves to this day.
United States Navy Veteran Viviennee Reuille is our 2021 awardee.
Engineman First Class Viviennee Reuille is a retired United States Navy Veteran. Reuille served in the Navy for 11 incredible years from 1986 through 1995 and then went on to continue serving her country in the Naval Reserves from the year 2000 until 2014. During that time, she earned countless awards including Sailor of the Year and Secretary’s Outstanding Unit Award Commander, in the Navy’s Northeast Region.
Lastly, Army National Guard Veteran Myrnaliz Nieves is our 2022 awardee.
Staff Sergeant Myrnaliz Nieves served in the Army National Guard for 13 years. The Army Combat Veteran always knew she wanted to serve in the military and joined at the young age of 17. Following basic training, she became a Human Resource Specialist and performed military funeral honors for fallen heroes and also served as the Equal Employment Opportunity representative overseas in Afghanistan from 2012-2012. While she has since left the military, she’s not finished saving lives and went on to pursue a career in law enforcement.
The dedication by these three women to their country and outstanding support to the military prove just how deserving they are of this award.
The freedoms we enjoy today would not be possible without brave individuals including these three local heroes who served our nation, and it was my pleasure to recognize their sacrifice for our liberties by bestowing them with the Freedom Award.