Marv Howland, a member of the Bridge City American Legion Post 250, received the coveted Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service in 2008.

The Jefferson Awards are a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. The Jefferson Awards are presented on national and local levels.

The awards have 150 media partners in 90 communities across the country. National honorees are a “Who’s Who” of American history makers. Recipients have included Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Colin Powell, Bob Hope and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Marv and his wife Arlene have been active Legionnaires for more than two decades. They have worked as a team to promote the cardinal principle of the American Legion to serve “God and Country.” Among their many accomplishments, they produced the annual Four Chaplains Memorial service, which ran for 17 consecutive years.

The Howlands were also instrumental in promoting the Blue Star Banner program last year, and are promoting another one this year with presentations to be made Nov. 10.

Arlene was the first female commander of Post 250 and held the post for four years. Marv has served as chaplain and service officer for several years and was selected as Outstanding Chaplain of the Year three times.

Marv served as the Legion’s chaplain of the state of Texas during 2004-05. He is now vice president of the Texas Chaplains Association and has been chaplain of the Golden Triangle Chapter of the Military Officers Association since 1989.

The Howlands recently retired from the Southeast Texas Veterans Service Group after 20 years service, providing or participating in more than 3,000 military funerals for veterans in Southeast Texas and south Louisiana. Marv founded the group in 1988, but it now has been reorganized under new leadership with its headquarters in Beaumont.

Marv said the American Legion wants the family of every veteran to know that a law was passed in 2000 requiring the active duty military to provide Military Honors for deceased veterans, providing up to three service members. However, full honors with a rifle detail are usually provided by local groups such as the Southeast Veterans Service Group or some local VFW posts. Marv noted that the Port Neches post has done an outstanding job providing these honors as well, and a similar group is being organized by the VFW and American Legion in Vinton.

“The more units we have in this service, the more veterans can receive honors when they die,” Marv said, “and that’s really what it’s all about. These men and women who have served under our flag deserve the recognition and honors when they leave us.”