(Washington)—American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) members Jerome Simon and Alfred Pratt were honored with the Veterans Affairs (VA) Valor Award on Tuesday Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. The Valor Award was given in recognition for acts of heroism. Simon and Pratt, members of AFGE Local 3553 in New Orleans, were honored during a special ceremony at the VA Central Office.
The Valor Award is the highest level of recognition in the VA and is awarded to employees who put their lives in jeopardy to save others and who exhibit great courage by voluntarily risking their personal safety to prevent the loss of human life or government property.
Simon and Pratt are both police officers for the VA. During the post-Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts, Simon and Pratt were credited with evacuating patients and staff from the New Orleans VA Medical Center amidst flooding, sniper fire and other chaos.
“We are extremely proud that Jerome and Alfred are being recognized with this prestigious honor,” said AFGE Local 3553 President Mark Gatlin-Mohammed. “It’s no surprise that they would risk their lives to help others in need. As federal employees, we have an obligation to help our fellow citizens and Jerome and Alfred did what they knew was right.”
The New Orleans VA Medical Center was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. Consequently, Simon is now working as a VA police officer in Alexandria, La., while Pratt serves as a VA police officer in Memphis, Tenn. AFGE Local 3553 relocated its operations to Jackson, Miss.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.