Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, today honored Sgt. Karolyn Smith as the 2014 Veteran of the Year for the 71st Assembly District. Karolyn Smith has demonstrated her dedication to her country as a Sergeant in the U.S Army Reservist, having earned the National Defense Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraqi Freedom Medal and is currently in the process of receiving the Purple Heart.
“Sgt. Karolyn Smith exemplifies the dedication and sacrifices men and women take to serve our country,” said Assemblyman Jones. “After the tragic events that changed our country on September 11, 2001, Sgt. Smith felt called to serve, and fight for the freedoms we hold dear. She has served the United States and our community in East County with great honor. As she retires from the Army this year, we welcome her back to East County, and hope to rally behind her continued service to our community.”
In April 2004, Smith was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq where she endured 13 road side bombs over the course of 300 combat missions. During the course of her service, she suffered from multiple injuries: a burnt respiratory system, two blown discs in her back, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and minor Traumatic Brain Injury. Sgt. Smith continues her service to her community and country by being active in several Veterans organizations such as the Lakeside Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans Village of San Diego, and Team Red, White and Blue. She has partnered with the Santee Chamber of Commerce and City Hall to develop a peer-to peer PTSD counseling program for veterans, with the goal of lowering the suicide rate amongst the veteran population. Additionally, she volunteers at local elementary schools with their student-to soldiers events.
Assemblyman Jones and Sgt. Karolyn Smith were joined by other veterans and elected officials from throughout the state for the seventh annual Veteran of the Year Recognition Luncheon. At the event, lawmakers thanked veterans for the sacrifices they made to serve our country.
“As the end of my Army career approaches, I’m honored to have been chosen as the 71st Assembly District Veteran of the Year. I accept this recognition for all who came before me, for the men and women we have all lost and for you – my Speed and Power 127th Brothers and Sisters,” said Sgt. Karolyn Smith. “All those who have served have done something most choose not to do – your Country asked for your sacrifice, and willingly, you left loved ones, put on the uniform of your respective branch and service – I accept this award for every one of us.”