By Contributing Editor Blair Drake
For more than a decade, Col. Ron Sarg, USAF, wore three hats: legislative chair for MOAA’s Dover (Del.) Chapter, president of MOAA’s Delaware Council of Chapters, and governor-appointed commissioner on the Delaware Commission for Veterans Affairs (DCVA).
He worked tirelessly engaging federal and state elected officials to further legislation benefiting the military and veterans’ community, researched and drafted recommendations for the DCVA, and kept chapter members informed via email, briefings, and the chapter newsletter.
He got “more legislative initiatives done in a year than most people do in a lifetime,” said Col. Eugenia “Gene” Thornton, USA (Ret), president of the Dover Chapter.
When Sarg died in July at age 77, he left behind a legacy of advocacy achievements.
For his leadership and initiative in advocating for the military community at both the state and national level, MOAA is posthumously honoring Sarg as a 2022 recipient of the Colonel Steve Strobridge Legislative Liaison Award.
“He was a very humble man,” Thornton said, “He didn’t like to be singled out, but when he found out I was nominating him for the award, he replied, ‘I’m honored. Thanks muchly.’”
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For the DCVA, Sarg drafted the legislative recommendations and concerns to Delaware’s secretary of state, Delaware’s Joint Military Affairs Committee, and all state legislators.
“Once his researched and drafted recommendations were adopted by the DCVA, our chapter’s initiatives became the commissions initiatives and vice versa,” Thornton said.
In 2021, Sarg led the charge on several bills. HB 214 was signed into law by the governor in December and exempts 100%-VA-disabled veterans from school and property taxes. SB 188 would exempt military retired pay from state taxes. He also successfully lobbied for the passage of HB 122, which phases out the issuance of 14c certification of handicapped individuals.
“Ron had such an excellent reputation at our State House,” Thornton said. “He received a standing ovation when our state senators signed a bill he championed.”
In addition to his advocacy work, Sarg gave back to his community in many other ways. During the pandemic, he grew his hair and donated his 10-inch-long ponytail to Locks of Love.
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"This simple community outreach endeavor was a true privilege and pleasure to safely and painlessly dedicate my hair to fellow cancer survivors who could use it more than me," said Sarg at that time.
He also spearheaded an effort to add a dental clinic at the Delaware Veterans Home that will be used for both residents as well as VA patients to help alleviate the long wait times for getting a dental appointment.
Thornton said this was probably Sarg’s “crowning achievement” as he was a dentist in the Air Force.
When Sarg died, Thornton said it took her three days just to track down everyone and every organization he had touched. Sens. Chris Coons and Tom Carper as well as Delaware Gov. John Carney made personal phone calls to Sarg’s wife. “That speaks volumes about the impact and the level of respect he had,” she said. “He was very beloved, and his loss is devastating to the veterans’ community."
Blair Drake is a contributing editor for MOAA and lives in Souderton, Pa. She previously served on the editorial team of Military Officer magazine for nine years.
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