Veteran of the Year
The Tom Hilzendeger Veteran of the Year Award aims to honor a veteran’s exceptional bravery, dedication, and sacrifice, regardless of rank or service branch, emphasizing those individuals who demonstrate a readiness to contribute to their community through selfless service. The award recipient will be announced and recognized in May 2024 at a City Council meeting.
- Must be a resident of the Antelope Valley;
- Be an active duty personnel, reservist, or retired with an honorable discharge; and,
- Must hail from one of the following branches: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, or National Guard.
Anyone can submit nominations for the Veteran of the Year award. To nominate an individual for this prestigious honor, kindly apply online at www.bit.ly/VeteranoftheYear.
If the nominee is selected for the final round, you will be asked to submit further details, such as a formal bio, a digital photo, and verification documents, as necessary.
For additional information, email email@example.com or call 661/267-5151.
Tony Tortolano, a United States Marine veteran, has been recognized as the Tom Hilzendeger 2023 Veteran of the Year by the City of Palmdale. He served in the U.S. Marine Corp. 1st Battalion, 14th Marines Unit with 155mm artillery battery from February 1981 to March 1987. Since 1989, Tony has been residing in the Antelope Valley and has supported veterans in the community. He is currently serving as the Veterans Liaison of Vets 4 Veterans and has been volunteering since 2019. In 2020, he volunteered with Toys for Tots, Coffee 4 Vets, Bombshell Betty’s, Patriot Guard riders, and Marine Corps League. Tony has earned the Good Conduct Medal, Marine Reserve Medal, and meritorious mast for Outstanding Leadership during a Battalion exercise. He strongly believes that it is a privilege and an honor to serve, help, and be friends with all veterans.
Jack Woolbert, a United States Navy veteran, has been recognized as the Tom Hilzendeger 2022 Veteran of the Year by the City of Palmdale. He served in the U.S. Navy from June 1963 to July 1967 in the U.S. Pacific Fleet and was assigned to the USS Piedmont (AD-17). Since 1985, Jack has been residing in the Antelope Valley and has been a major supporter of veterans in the community. He currently serves as the President of Vets 4 Veterans and has been volunteering since 2014. Jack works on the food distribution and immediate need program, Veteran Training Program, and maintains the upkeep on the Operation Restart House. He strongly believes in giving back to the community and is always ready to help a veteran in need.
The City of Palmdale has recognized Kevin Sanders, a United States Marine Corps Veteran, as the 2021 Veteran of the Year. During his time in the military, Kevin served in the United States Marines from 1976 to 1980 and was assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade at KMCAS in Kaneohe Hawaii. He was deployed overseas twice, once with Marine Amphibious Unit 31 (MAU-31) and once with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines.
Kevin Sanders is a well-known community member in the Antelope Valley and a passionate supporter of veterans in our community. He works as a Northrop Grumman Talent Acquisition Recruiter and helps military veterans and individuals transitioning out of the military to find long-term careers in the defense industry that can improve their quality of life. He is also a Veterans Advocate for Vets4Veterans and coordinates fundraising activities to support local veterans during times of hardship.
In addition, Kevin was named the Vets4Veterans Veteran of the Year in 2018, but he considers earning the title of United States Marine to be his greatest honor. He firmly believes that by working together, the Antelope Valley community and its partners can make the region a better place to live. Kevin places great value on giving back to his community and encourages others to do the same.