RALEIGH — Richmond County veterans’ advocate Mary O’Neal received a standing ovation on the floor of the North Carolina Senate on Thursday.
State Sen. Gene McLaurin, D-Richmond, honored O’Neal’s lifetime service with an invitation to appear at the General Assembly. He read a senatorial statement thanking her for her work as a volunteer and official in the N.C. AMVETS Auxiliary groups.
“I have known Mary for many years and have always admired her spirit of true loyalty, service and dedication to our veterans,” McLaurin said in a Friday release. “Her tireless work has led to many veterans receiving care packages, calling cards to call their families and countless services for disabled veterans and their families. I am proud to know Mary and humbled by this opportunity to recognize her in the Senate.”
McLaurin stood beside O’Neal in the Senate chamber and read a page-long senatorial statement signed by Senate Principal Clerk Sarah Lang.
O’Neal is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4203 Auxiliary, Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary and AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary 316, a group she has led as president since 2006.
She served as the AMVETS Auxiliary state president in 2013 and is currently the state auxiliary’s national executive committee representative.
“Mary J. O’Neal should be commended for the service she has rendered to her community, her state and the nation’s veterans,” McLaurin wrote in the senatorial statement.
O’Neal received her bachelor’s degree from California Lutheran College and later earned a master’s degree from East Carolina University in Greenville. After college, she volunteered in Ethiopia for the Lutheran World Brotherhood Exchange.
She soon married her husband, Ed O’Neal, who was later assigned to Fort Bragg. During her professional career, O’Neal worked for the N.C. Employment Security Commission and served as president of the state employment counselors’ association.
Family members and Lacy Shepherd, who served as North Carolina AMVETS commander in 2011, accompanied O’Neal onto the Senate floor. After he read the statement honoring O’Neal aloud, McLaurin led state senators in a standing ovation.