MANATEE COUNTY – Lee Washington is an honorably discharged U.S. Marine, a former bodyguard and a doting father and grandfather. Now he has one more proud title to add to his resume: 2013 Manatee County Employee of the Year.
Washington, Manatee County Veteran Services Officer, has been awarded the County’s top employee award only five months after taking the lead role of a Veteran Service Office that last year helped 14,000 veterans and their dependents obtain the benefits they earned in service to our country. County Commissioners recognized Washington at the beginning of today’s meeting, and they unanimously approved a proclamation naming today Lee Washington Day in Manatee County.
An estimated 40,000 veterans live in Manatee County throughout the year. Manatee Veteran Services last year played a part in more than $100 million returning to local veterans and dependents in the form of disability claims, survivors’ benefits, education dollars and home loans.
Community Services Director Brenda Rogers said Washington is an ideal employee who anticipates solutions to challenges before they escalate and that he’s a very effective communicator.
“While most of us are either logical or compassionate in our thinking and in action, Lee is unique in that he is able to act on both at the same time.” Rogers said. “From my view, when someone uses the title Marine as a descriptor Lee is the ‘poster child.’ He epitomizes the characteristics one thinks of honest, dedicated, brave, humble, consistent and loyal.”
Washington said Veteran Services gets the job done “extremely well” because each of the three staffers is a military veteran who understands how difficult it can be to navigate a complicated process of obtaining benefits. Standing before the Commission today he thanked coworkers in the Community Services Department and his dedicated team in Veteran Services.
“This is a job that’s near and dear to our hearts because we’re veterans ourselves,” Washington says. “This is probably the most rewarding job I’ve ever had since getting out of the service. In this position I can help someone every single day. It’s not a job motivated by money, but it’s helping steer people in the right direction to obtain the benefits they earned.
“I hope with my receiving this award, our nation’s veterans can stand a bit taller,” Washington said. “They are truly heroes and they have earned and deserve our unwavering support.”
Washington says being named Employee of the Year from among 1,600 County employees was an unexpected surprise. He hopes any personal publicity from the award will go to help Manatee residents learn more about the Veteran Services Office.
During his time as a staff sergeant in the armed forces Washington supervised the daily development and training of 82 U.S. Marines and managed the logistics of moving a unit of 800 Marines around the world.
Washington is a member of the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers, and an accredited Veterans Service Officer through the Marine Corps League, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans.
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