Reserve Affairs Official Recognized for Community Service
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2003 A life of volunteerism and community service has earned a top Defense Department official the 2003 Federal Law Enforcement Foundation's Community Service Award.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Thomas Hall received the foundation's award during ceremonies Nov. 6 in New York. The Federal Law Enforcement Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides financial support to families of FBI agents injured or killed in the line of duty. The organization also offers economic help to agents suffering from serious illness and other personal disasters.
Hall was recognized along with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, New York Gov. George Pataki and News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, among others.
"Community service has always been an important part of my life," Hall said during a recent interview. "What this particular award recognizes is that people throughout their career, either in the civilian or military sector, have considered community service as something that we all ought to do, and return to their city, state or nation service which is perhaps above and beyond."
Former colleague Robert Rosen, like Hall, a retired Naval Reserve rear admiral, nominated him for the award. Hall was the chief of the Naval Reserve, and had worked with Rosen for 12 years. The two men often collaborated on a number of projects, Hall said.
"I know of no other individual that has done more to strengthen and enhance the reserve forces of the United States of America than Secretary Hall," Rosen said. "The reserve forces today are playing an extremely vital role in the defense of our nation, both domestically and internationally."
Hall has served on five nonprofit organizations' boards, including the Boys Scouts of America and other community-oriented groups. In his hometown of Barnsdall, Okla., he established a scholarship fund to send students to college. For those efforts, the town named a street after him.
And prior to working for the Defense Department, he served for six years as executive director of the Naval Reserve Association, a nonprofit veterans organization that represents more than 23,000 Naval Reserve members and their families. Rosen said Hall "did a wonderful job" and "dedicated his life" to the organization.
Hall said he was particularly honored to receive the award "at a time when many law enforcement officers are serving as 'twice the citizens' as mobilized members of the National Guard and Reserve Components."
He said the award not only humbled him, but also reflects well on the Department of Defense. Because Hall represents the armed forces' Reserve components, he said the recognition sends a strong signal to the public that military personnel and government officials know the importance of community service.
"It wasn't so much the award," Hall explained. "I think it was the signal to all the assembled people, many of whom weren't in the military, that we who have served in the military and (are) in public service and public life consider community service as something important and worthwhile to do."
Hall stressed that throughout his life community service has always been a "thrust" for him and wife, Barbara. The two have been married for 40 years, and both have served on several volunteer boards of various community organizations.
"Anything within the community where we've lived, both military and civilian, we've tried to join," he said. "We try to return to our community and great nation some of the blessings that they've given to us. So it means a great deal to me that someone would think my returning my time to the community was worth this award. So I'm very humbled to receive it."
In accepting the award, Hall said that he told the audience of how important community service can be. And he thanked them for their support of the military forces, not just the reserves, but also the active duty forces.
"I felt it was a good time to let them know that certainly in New York City and the state of New York, patriotism is alive and well, and that their very presence demonstrated their support for our Guard and Reserve."
Hall was sworn in as the fourth assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs on Oct. 9, 2002. He serves as the principal staff assistant to the secretary of defense on all matters involving the 1.3 million reserve-component members.