PITTSBURGH DISTRICT OFFICE
May 18, 2011
Contact: Janet Heyl
(412) 395-6560, ext. 103
Release Number: PGH11-15 Janet.Heyl@sba.gov
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PITTSBURGH – When John Pippy was in high school he applied to the Air Force Academy, hoping to become an officer in the same branch his father served as an enlisted man during the Vietnam War. But the U.S. Army sacked those plans when they recruited the defensive end to play football for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
“West Point talked so much about leadership, I loved it, I’m from a blue-collar town near Boston and have always had a sense of duty and patriotism, not only was my dad in the Air Force but my grandfather was in the Navy during World War II,” Pippy said. “We joke in our family that because I joined the Army we have a complete circle representing the military services.”
Pippy, 40, has since dedicated his adult life to service. For 19 years, he has defended his country as an officer in the U.S. Army and Pennsylvania National Guard and since 1997 he’s served Pennsylvania residents as a state legislator. This month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) salutes Pippy as Western Pennsylvania’s Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year.
Pippy and eight other local small business owners and advocates will be lauded at the Western Pennsylvania SBA May 27th Awards Luncheon at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh. The luncheon is held in conjunction with the 48th annual celebration of National Small Business Week.
While majoring in environmental engineering as a cadet, Pippy met his wife who was also an Academy cadet. While home is his house in Moon Township, Pippy has travelled the world as a soldier, from South Korea and Germany to Iraq and Kuwait. His travels have taught him about different cultures and human needs.
"What we in the U.S. take for granted, such as water and electricity, isn’t the norm for a lot of cultures,” he said. “You realize how fortunate you are.” For Pippy, taking care of those who have served has been his stateside mission as a legislator in addition to his duties as a major in the Pennsylvania National Guard.
“About one-half of the individuals who have served in the current war are reservists or members of the National Guard,” Pippy explained. “Their experiences shape the community they live in, so it’s important that we honor all those who have served their country.” In addition to supporting legislation to reduce the capital stock and franchise tax which spurred economic growth and jobs, Pippy also sponsored a Small Business Energy Efficiency grant program.
The program provided a matching grant of up to $7,500 for small businesses to defray the costs purchasing and implementing energy efficient products or systems. Pippy has also provided quality-of-life benefits for Pennsylvania armed service members and retirees, writing legislation to ensure that military personnel receive lower tuition rates when stationed in Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh-based Robert Morris University now offers free tuition to veterans.
“It’s a win-win situation at Robert Morris because non-military students and professors can discover so much from our men and women who have served their country and share their life stories,” he said. Pippy himself said he has learned from retired military personnel he often meets at veteran organizations.
“I was at a Vietnam Memorial function and a gentleman came up to me and told me his brother would never be able to see the memorial because he was wheelchair bound and could'nt travel,” Pippy explained. “We couldn’t find a DVD, so we took a film crew to D.C. and a park ranger hosted a tour.” Pippy said DVDs were burnt and the tours, along with a Korean Memorial tour, now are available online.
According to Western Pennsylvania SBA District Director Carl Knoblock, Pippy serves as an example of why veterans are so valuable to their community.
“I commend and thank him for serving his country and for continually improving the lives of military personnel, both active and retired, in Pennsylvania.”
Pippy said it was a privilege and honor to be selected as the SBA’s veteran champion.
“I think it’s great that the SBA recognizes service to veterans,” he said. “I was just doing my job [as a senator and officer] and will stay in the military as long as they have a job for me,” he added. “I can’t imagine not being part of a military family.”
Note: If you would like to speak with Sen. John Pippy or Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, please contact Janet Heyl at 412-395-6560, ext. 103
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