On November 5, the Pennsylvania Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars presented Pennsylvania Adjutant General Anthony Carrelli and Deputy Adjutant General of Veterans Affairs Erie G. Weller with honorary VFW Eagle Awards for their outstanding leadership accomplishments. Major General Carrelli and Retired Major General Weller were praised by the State VFW for dedicating their lives to both serving in the military and managing how the Commonwealth supports its service members and veterans.
The presentation took place inside the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters building in Annville, which also houses the administrative offices of the State Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA). The event was attended by command and support staff of the Pennsylvania National Guard as well as the State DMVA administrative team.
“The VFW has a long and proud tradition of supporting and assisting our military and veterans—119 years to be exact,” said VFW State Commander Thomas M. Hanzes, a Vietnam War veteran, who was joined during the presentation by VFW State Adjutant John B. Getz, Jr. “Pennsylvania is blessed to have the best State National Guard in the nation and a premier Veterans Affairs agency that provides life-changing services and benefits to Pennsylvania veterans every day.
“We created the State VFW Eagle Award to honor and salute Pennsylvania Guardians whose integrity, dedication and leadership drives mission success in a variety of service environments. We’re proud to honor Generals Carrelli and Weller as recipients of this distinguished award. We’re equally proud to call them comrades in the Veterans of Foreign Wars,” added Commander Hanzes. “The VFW stands ready to continue supporting our Pennsylvania Guardians and the State Veterans Affairs agency as our citizen soldiers and veterans program leaders march forward to continued excellence.”
Major General Carrelli was confirmed by the Senate of Pennsylvania as the 53rd Adjutant General of Pennsylvania on June 29, 2016. In this cabinet-level position with the Pennsylvania DMVA, headquartered at Ft. Indiantown Gap, Annville, General Carrelli is responsible for the command, control and supervision of National Guard units–Army and Air–allocated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, six state-owned veterans’ homes and programs for Pennsylvania’s nearly 800,000 veterans.
General Carrelli is a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours. During his 33-year career, General Carrelli deployed in numerous operations to include Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and served as commander of the 111th Fighter Wing in Horsham, and the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Pittsburgh, and Deputy Adjutant General – Air.
“The Pennsylvania Guard is often relied on by our nation’s top military commanders to executive mission critical activities in far off places. The VFW salutes Adjutant General Carrelli, his officers and enlisted personnel for employing their impressive capabilities to accomplish their objectives in commendable fashion,” noted State Commander Hanzes. “We also honor Adjutant General Carrelli for keeping lines of communication open with the VFW so we can demonstrate our longstanding support of all Pennsylvania Guardians and share our priorities for how the State serves its veterans.”
Major General (Ret) Weller was appointed Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans Affairs on November 21, 2016. He supervises the administration of state veterans programs, outreach and reintegration and veteran initiatives for nearly 800,000 veterans and their dependents. Major General (Ret) Weller also oversees the operation of the commonwealth’s six Veterans’ Homes.
Major General Weller retired in August 2016 after over 35 years of military service. Prior to retirement, he served as the Deputy Commander for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. He has also commanded Air Force units at the Squadron, Group and Wing level.
Major General Weller’s career includes participation in numerous operations in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
“The VFW works closely with General Weller and his Veterans Affairs staff to help veterans across Pennsylvania access benefits and services that enhance their lives,” Commander Hanzes stated. “We know that General Weller’s passion for serving veterans is second to none. His dedication, frankness, humility and drive to do what’s best for those who have served their nation truly benefit veterans of all ages and their families. The VFW appreciates his willingness to seek opinions and ideas from within the veteran community, and his commitment to apply this input into his agency’s planning process.”
The State VFW also presents VFW Eagle Awards to Pennsylvania Guardians twice a year during the organization’s State Convention and Mid-Winter Conference. Nominations for the award are routed through the Adjutant General’s office. Seventeen members of the Keystone State’s Army and Air National Guard have received VFW Eagle Awards through these nominations. Additionally, the Pennsylvania VFW has chosen seven Guard officers or State agency officials to receive honorary VFW Eagle Awards.
(Photo Caption: Pictured are (from left) Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars State Commander Thomas Hanzes, Pennsylvania Adjutant General Anthony Carrelli, Pennsylvania Deputy Adjutant General of Veterans Affairs Eric G. Weller and PA VFW State Adjutant/Quartermaster John Getz. Photo by Thomas Cherry/PA DMVA)