On Friday, March 9, Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP partner Douglas J. Suter accepted the Navy Distinguished Public Service Medal at Matanzas by the Bay on Ft. Myers Beach on behalf of Operation Open Arms (OAA), a nonprofit organization Suter co-founded in 2005.
The Navy Distinguished Public Service Medal is the highest medal awarded to a civilian not employed by the Navy. Since 1951, only 19 citizens have received this award. It is presented to civilians for specific courageous or heroic acts, or exceptionally outstanding service of substantial and long-term benefits to the Navy, Marine Corps, or Department of the Navy as a whole. Past recipients include George Halas, Joe Rosenthal (photographer of Iwo Jima flag raising), Robert McFarlane (U.S. Marine & NSA to President Reagan) and the late John Murtha (U.S. Marine & Congressman).
Suter co-founded OAA with John “Giddy Up” Bunch, to assist U.S. troops returning from combat and foreign duty assignments with accessing numerous resources. Since its opening, it has provided nearly 3,700 troops with same-day PTSD mental health care, hotel and recreation accommodations and even 103 weddings at no cost.