Dave Philipps who reports on military affairs for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, has won the 27th annual Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. The $5,000 award recognizes journalists whose high standards for accuracy and substance help foster a better public understanding of National Defense.

The 27th Annual Gerald R. Ford Prizes for distinguished reporting in 2013 will be presented by Steve Ford, son of the late President Gerald R. Ford and Chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation at a luncheon on Monday, June 2, 2014 at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Following the presentation of the awards, Bob Schieffer, CBS News, will address the audience.

When announcing their decision to award Dave Philipps the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense in 2013, the judges issued the following statement:

“In a year of exceptionally strong submissions for defense reporting, the judges have selected Dave Philipps from The Gazette of Colorado Springs as the winner of the Gerald Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense in 2013.

In his second inaugural address in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln admonished the nation to “care for him who shall have borne the battle” – which forged a social compact with America’s service men and women that has lasted 150 years. Mr. Philipps’ series of articles documented a breach of that commitment with the surge in “Other than Honorable” discharges by the U.S. Army for warriors whose wounds are not always physically evident The factual scientific evidence on the long-term deterioration of cognitive functions after traumatic brain injuries was compelling. His stories were local, but the breadth of his research and interviews was national in scope. His writing style was riveting and reportorial at the same time.

In the shadow of the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, Mr. Philipps’ stories took courage to write and publish. His body of work raised important underlying issues. First, he noted that the military system has not adjusted to a new operational reality in which career troops are often warfighter and veteran at the same time. Second, his work highlighted the disparity between the rhetoric of honoring wounded warriors and the broken promises of their actual care. This is a problem that budgetary pressures will continue to exacerbate. Finally, his series underscored the increasingly important role that regional news outlets are playing in helping to showcase issues of national import.

The power of his reporting had immediate impact on the national dialogue and on the lives of wounded warriors. The number of soldiers Army-wide who were released with other than honorable discharges began to drop after the series was published. This was a unanimous selection by the judging panel.”

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation sponsors the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prizes for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency and Distinguished Reporting on National Defense to recognize and encourage thoughtful, insightful, and enterprising work by journalists covering the presidency and national defense. The Foundation is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation whose programs are supported entirely by contributions and bequests in an effort to honor President Ford’s sustained commitment to public service.

For more information about the annual prize or previous winners contact: Joe Calvaruso, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, 303 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504-5353, (616) 254-0397, jcalvaruso@38foundation.org or visit our website at www.geraldrfordfoundation.org.

This year’s winner:

Dave Philipps has worked at The Gazette in Colorado Springs for ten years as an investigative reporter, photographer, ski writer, restaurant critic and occasional cartoonist. Because Colorado Springs is home to more than 50,000 active duty troops, his work has often focused on the military and the unintended consequences of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Colorado Springs native, Philipps graduated from Middlebury College in 2000 and got a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2002. In 2010, he won the Livingston Award for National Reporting and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting for what judges called “his painstaking stories on the spike in violence within a battered combat brigade returning to Fort Carson after bloody deployments to Iraq, leading to increased mental health care for soldiers.” In 2014, he won the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for expanding the examination of how wounded combat veterans are mistreated, focusing on loss of benefits for life after discharge by the Army for minor offenses, stories augmented with digital tools and stirring congressional action. He lives at the foot of the Rockies with his wife and two sons.

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