Anngela Vasser-Cooper received the 2013 Buffalo Soldier Award from Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef on Tuesday. The Nyack resident is the second woman to receive the award since its inception in 1993 and the second member of her family to be presented with it. Vasser-Cooper’s uncle, John Vasser, received the award several years ago.
“It’s given to an outstanding individual who has served in the military but also who as a Rockland resident has gone beyond service in respect to the military and served the community in some form or fashion,” explained Vanderhoef.
Vasser-Cooper is the founder and CEO of Women Veterans Association of Hudson Valley, Inc. The non-profit was created in 2009 to assist all veterans but with an emphasis on women. Vasser-Cooper is also as a medical social worker at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Manhattan. She reaches out to female veterans to make them aware of services and assistance available to help them readapt to civilian life.
“It’s always an honor, an admiration for being recognized for making a difference in one’s community,” said Vasser-Cooper.
Even though women comprise 14.5 percent of the more than one million members of the military, she said little attention is paid their mental health when they return home.
She enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1980 as a communications specialist, served one tour in Seoul, South Korea and received a Sharp Shooter Medal and Leadership Certificate. Upon returning, she graduated from Rockland Community College, earned a bachelor’s degree from Empire State College and her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Fordham University.
A committee of previous recipients selected Vasser-Cooper for the 21st Annual Buffalo Soldier Award. The award is given to an outstanding African American veteran who lives in Rockland and is named after the soldiers of the 10th Black Cavalry Regiment, who were nicknamed “Buffalo Soldiers” because of their bravery. The woman to receive the award was Mattie Moore in 1996.
Several former Buffalo Soldier honorees praised her efforts and commitment.
Grady Anderson noted, “She does shoot straight. She shoots from the heart. She shoot from the heart for women veterans.”
Her uncle John Vasser said he was very proud to see her win the award.
“She has the passion in her work,” said David. C Smith. “The work that she is doing makes us all proud.”
Dr. Willy Bryant said, “It’s an historic occasion.”
The Women’s Veterans Association provides referrals, organizes seminars, lectures and events for women veterans including trips to the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
On Saturday, April 20, the Association is hosting a seminar and luncheon to inform the community about the difficulties faced by veterans who are returning home such as depression, suicide, PTSD and military sexual trauma.
“We bring awareness to the community and address these health issues,” said Vasser-Cooper.
Mental health speakers including a suicide prevention expert and veterans will discuss these topics. Women veterans will be thanked for their service to their country during the event at the Crown Plaza in Suffern. Vasser-Cooper is partnering with the Veterans Administration and Senator David Carlucci to put on the program, which runs from 12:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. For more information on the seminar contact Vasser-Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-480-5660.