Commerce – Texas A&M University-Commerce Police Chief Donna Spinato has been honored with the Department of Defense Patriotic Employer Award.
The Patriotic Employer Award is presented by the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense organization.
Chief Spinato was nominated by Arlan Williams, who works for her as a patrolman and was also an A&M-Commerce student when not serving in the Air Force Reserves.
Williams has served two tours in Iraq, where he taught Iraqis construction skills and worked on maintaining runways, and building airplane hangars and housing. He is currently recovering from a non-combat related leg injury at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and will return to A&M-Commerce.
"Chief Spinato has always been supportive," Williams said.
"Even though it has been a scheduling nightmare for the University Police when I was in Iraq, she never has complained."
"If I had worked for a regular police agency, my position could have been filled partially by reserve officers. We are a state agency and a reserve force is not authorized. So, if it were within my power, every officer at the University would receive an award. The support from Donna and my fellow officers has been exemplary. The award is well deserved."
Williams and Spinato were honored earlier this month at a luncheon hosted by retiring A&M-Commerce President Keith McFarland.
Army Sgt. Ninoska Urbina and Navy MC1 Donald Walton, both of Greenville, were also in attendance.
"This campus has always been friendly to the military. We have always been very patriotic," McFarland said.
Chief Spinato can trace back her support for the military to her grandfather. When she saw images of the Vietnam War as a child, her grandfather took her aside and explained to her the importance of the soldiers' sacrifice.
This early encounter impressed upon her a deep appreciation for the military that continues to this day. Her family has a rich heritage of military service as well. Spinato's great-grandfather, grandfather, father, and father-in-law all served in the military, so she is well acquainted with the sacrifice required of a serviceman.
"I really take great pride in being able to serve and give back," she said of her role as police chief. Spinato also demonstrates her appreciation for the Armed Services by coordinating security for the Veterans Vigil, a three- day A&M-Commerce observance held each fall designed to honor military veterans.