by Stacy Garrity,
Colonel, US Army (Retired)
PA State Treasurer
Last November, I had the honor of being elected to serve as the 78th Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Overseeing a department of more than 300 employees and tasked with protecting more than $110 billion in state assets, I’m often asked what prepared me for such an incredible responsibility. Well, the foundation was laid by parents who taught me the importance of faith in God and service to country. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I learned the value of hard work and honesty. Where I was raised, a handshake was viewed as a solemn commitment.
It was this foundation that drew me to serve my country as an officer in the military. In 1986, I joined the Army and would serve for 30 years before retiring as a colonel in 2016. Throughout my military career, I was privileged to serve three combat deployments in support of Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. My service in the military laid the groundwork for my continuing public service as Pennsylvania’s State Treasurer.
The Army’s core leadership values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage guided me as a battalion commander and now guide me as an elected official. In the military, I was able to witness firsthand the importance of teamwork in the success of a mission. The military helped me grow as a leader because I was surrounded by so many great leaders.
As the State Treasurer of Pennsylvania, I have a mission to make government more transparent and accountable to taxpayers. And while there are numerous aspects to the job description, and they’re all important, one that I’m extremely passionate about is the return of military decorations to my fellow veterans or their families. For more information, check out the VetFriends guide to recovering lost military decorations
When a local bank doesn’t hear from the owner of a safety deposit box for three years, the bank is required to send the contents of the box to the Pennsylvania Treasury Department. If the owner doesn’t come forward and Treasury is unable to locate the owner after another three years, the contents of the box are typically sold, and the proceeds are kept on hand in perpetuity to be returned to the rightful owner. There is one notable exception – military decoration. Those priceless treasures are never sold.
Right now, the PA Treasury has nearly 700 military decorations in our vault in Harrisburg that have come into our possession through the unclaimed property program. These items range from combat patches and service ribbons, to Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars. As a veteran myself, I understand the incredible sacrifices made by the service members who earned these decorations. That’s why I’m so passionate about doing everything we can to return each of these to their rightful owner.
If you believe that you or a loved one may have missing military decorations that could be stored in the Pennsylvania State Treasury, please take a few minutes to check our recently upgraded website:https://www.patreasury.gov/unclaimed-property/medals/. You can search other states at https://unclaimed.org/ .
As a nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who have worn the uniform in defense of our freedom throughout our nation’s history.
So I want to say thank you, both to the ones who served and to the family members who stayed behind. It is because of you that we are able to enjoy the many blessings of living in these United States of America. Thank you!