HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs inducted two new members into its the Hall of Fame, recognizing their exceptional service to veterans, the military and the nation.
Honored today were Dr. Rory Cooper, director of Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; and the late Maj. Gen. Gerald T. Sajer, who served as state adjutant general from 1987 to 1995.
Cooper, of Gibsonia, Allegheny County, has distinguished himself through exceptional service to veterans and members of the United States military for the past two and a half decades.
“Dr. Cooper is a uniquely gifted scientist, engineer, inventor, educator, author, athlete, motivational speaker and public servant,” said Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig, the state’s adjutant general. “He has dedicated himself to improving the lives of veterans, people with disabilities and service members through advanced engineering and medical rehabilitation research and development.”
Since 2004, Cooper has been co-director of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s science symposium on research to clinical care and medical rehabilitation. He is a co-editor of the Borden Institute Textbook of Military Medicine on the care of combat amputees.
Cooper led the effort to bring this year’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games to Pittsburgh and has served as chairman of the event’s local organizing committee.
His advocacy and knowledge of the needs of people and veterans with disabilities earned him a position on the National Board of Easter Seals. Most recently, Cooper received the 2011 Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award from the University of Pittsburgh for his numerous contributions to the community and beyond.
Sajer, of Milton, Northumberland County, died on May 14. He was a veteran with more than 49 years of military service beginning as a rifleman in 1947 and culminating as the 48th adjutant general of Pennsylvania from 1987-1995.
“During General Sajer’s tenure as the adjutant general, he worked tirelessly for the soldiers and airmen of the Pennsylvania National Guard,” Craig said. “His exceptional accomplishments are a credit to his unique, thoughtful and tireless vision to ensure that Pennsylvania would set the standard for all National Guards in the country.”
As adjutant general, Sajer was instrumental in establishing and maintaining many valued programs for the Pennsylvania National Guard. He also worked closely with state and federal legislators to improve benefits for veterans and their families.
Sajer was instrumental in developing the Eastern Army Aviation Training Site, worked to increase funding for aging Guard facilities throughout the state, and laid the groundwork for the transfer of Fort Indiantown Gap from the U.S. Army to the state.
An integral participant in the improvement and development of care for all veterans through the State Veterans’ Home program, Sajer helped establish the Gino J. Merli Veterans Center in Scranton and provided vision for future veterans’ homes.
The DMVA Hall of Fame, established in 1998, recognizes unique and exemplary contributions to the department and the Pennsylvania National Guard. This award not only recognizes significant achievements, but also the honor and prestige an individual has brought upon the department, the Pennsylvania National Guard and Pennsylvania veterans. It is highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the department.
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