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Military Friendly Awards

The Pittsburgh Veteran of the Year award is a prestigious honor presented to one of the region’s outstanding veterans who demonstrates leadership, teamwork, and a commitment to serving others. The award is presented by veteran-owned Military Friendly®

Our Finalists

Winner will be announced 12/3/2023

Jack’s Work:

Founder and Chairman of the Board
Pittsburgh Hires Veterans

Regional Development Director
Guardian Angels Service Dogs

US Marine Corps Combat Veteran, Vietnam

Purple Heart recipient

Jack Wagner honorably served his country as a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He is a Vietnam Veteran and a recipient of the Purple Heart. Jack devoted 28 years to public service, including eight years as Pennsylvania’s Auditor General, 10 years as a Pennsylvania State Senator and 10 years on Pittsburgh City Council before founding Pittsburgh Hires Veterans, which provides free one-on-one employment support for veterans and spouses to improve employment outcomes. Jack also serves as Regional Director with Guardian Angels Service Dogs to rescue, raise, train and donate life saving service dogs to veterans and first responders. Jack has led the organization in acquiring land and permits for construction, selecting and guiding the contracted architectural firm, and raising funds for a 102-acre training facility a few miles from Pittsburgh International Airport. He also serves with the Sharing and Caring Organization to support hospitalized veterans. While Jack has largely separated himself from politics, he cannot ignore flawed regulations that impact the veteran community and our elected leadership. He has recently taken up the charge to change the primary electoral system in the commonwealth that disallows those registered as Independents to vote for a Republican or Democrat candidate. This rule wrongfully prevents those who identify as Independents, a group that includes many veterans, from participating in the primary electoral system.

Cameron’s Work: 

Master Sergeant  

US Air Force, US Space Force

President, Board of Directors  

Sto-Rox School District

Cameron’s roots in McKees Rocks laid the foundation for his character. Growing up in this community, he absorbed the values of hard work and resilience from an early age. Graduating from Sto-Rox High School in 2008, he wasn’t merely a student; he was a multifaceted individual deeply involved in various pursuits. Football and the prestigious Pittsburgh drumline weren’t just activities; they were platforms that honed his teamwork skills and ignited his passion for excellence. Joining the Air Force in 2011 marked a transformative phase. His service took him across continents, fostering a deep appreciation for different cultures, languages, and perspectives. This global exposure broadened his worldview and reinforced his commitment to making a difference both globally and in his hometown. While serving his country, Cameron remains deeply rooted in his community. His role as the President of the Sto-Rox Little Vikings Youth Sports Association isn’t merely administrative; it is a manifestation of his dedication to shaping young minds. Importantly, his journey surpassed military service and community leadership. Becoming the first African American President of the Sto-Rox School District Board of Directors isn’t solely a personal achievement; it stands as a testament to his commitment to breaking barriers and inspiring others through representation and advocacy. Master Sergeant Cameron M. Culliver’s journey epitomizes the fusion of determination, resilience, and unwavering commitment to service. It’s a narrative of pursuing passions, embracing challenges, and leaving an enduring impact on his community and beyond.

Jonathan’s Work: 

Operational Risk Officer

PNC Bank

US Air Force


A former Staff Sergeant, Dr. Jonathan Bliss served as a Security Forces Leader in the United States Air Force, where he performed law enforcement, security, air base defense, and force protection both stateside and abroad, including special details for Air Force One. He deployed on three missions Outside [the] Contiguous United States in support of various security and combat operations where he was awarded two Air Force Achievement Medals for exemplary service in Kuwait and Iraq. Jonathan was an exceptional airman during his time in the service, earning the 49th Security Forces Squadron Airman of the Year, Top Gun at Silver Flag Desert Warfare Training Center, as well as the John L. Levitow and Leadership awards during Airman Leadership School NCO academy, as the top airman in his class. After the military, Jonathan pursued higher education, beginning at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg where he was a Da Vinci Scholar, and ultimately obtaining a Ph.D. in Criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After a stint with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Investigative Services, Jonathan left public service for a role in the private sector where he currently serves as a Vice President, Process Improvement Advisor for LINGA, a PNC Bank subsidiary. Jonathan continues to serve the military and veteran community through his support for dozens of events, but more specifically, through his roles within PNC’s Military Employee Business Resource Group, PNC’s Military Advisory Council, and as the Executive Committee Vice Chair of Veterans Leadership Program.

Ben’s Work: 

Chief Executive Officer

Veterans Leadership Program

US Navy

Dr. Ben Stahl is the Chief Executive Officer of Veterans Leadership Program. A Pittsburgh native, Ben grew up in the working-class borough of Swissvale and is a proud graduate of Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School. A Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he has served onboard the USS Gladiator, USS Avenger, USS Dextrous and at the Naval Sea Systems Command Southwestern Regional Maintenance Center. Ben is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc.’s Community Leadership Course for Veterans, and has been included in Smart Business Magazine’s “Smart 50”. Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in Social Science, with a dual concentration in History and Government; a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership; and a Doctor of Science in Information Systems and Communications, all from Robert Morris University. Since becoming CEO in 2016, Dr. Ben Stahl has proven himself to be a dynamic leader of Veterans Leadership Program by turning the agency around from operating at a deficit and losing funding and constituents to becoming a nationally known premier Veterans Service Organization. Dr. Stahl transformed an organization that provided services to local Veterans through ten programs within 18 counties to an organization that currently takes a holistic, comprehensive, and contemporary approach, leveraging 18 programs within an expanded 30 county service delivery area in Central, Northern, Western Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio. 

Jody’s Work: 

Client Solutions Specialist

PNC Bank

US Army, US Navy veteran

Jody is a veteran of both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army, serving as an intelligence analyst for both branches. He was medically discharged and is now a 100% disabled veteran. He is a has served as the Chairperson/Ambassador for the PNC Mutt Strut for five years. He has been a Public Ambassador/Spokesman for Folds of Honor for the past two years and has helped to organize fundraising golf tournaments for FBO Guardian Angels and Folds of Honor. He administers the Tik Tok for VetTok, an online forum for veterans, and administers the Super Service Dog Nick Instagram page, which helps facilitate service dogs for veterans. Jody is involved with Disney for Vets, a TikTok community to help veterans and their families get up to date and accurate policies and discounts exclusively for veterans. He’s a spokesman for PNC’s Military Employee Business Resource Group for veterans and a spokesman and organizer for all of PNC’s military events. Jody also serves as an ambassador for the nonprofit Team Foster, which educates veterans about obtaining, maintaining and training service dogs. He is currently working with one state senator and one congressperson on laws protecting service dogs and their handlers and also protecting businesses from false service dogs by setting up a registry for service dogs. 

A big thank you to the service and support of our 

2023 Pittsburgh Veteran of the Year 

“I have been truley humbled and blessed to have been choosen by all of you as the 2023 Veteran of the Year. I has given me the oppertunity to raise awareness for the veteran community here in our region and beyond. Thank you for believeing in me … I will continue to advocate for our veterans, its my mission and my lfes work.”

 -Chris Ann Phillips