EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Pennsylvania State Treasurer Stacy Garrity is on the job every day at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Looking to cut waste and fees and return unclaimed property to its rightful owners, including military medals.

Garrity is also a retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel. She was dubbed “The Angel of the Desert” during her service at Camp Bucca in Southern Iran.

On January 19, 2021, Bradford County native Stacy Garrity was sworn in as the 78th treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

“It was the first time that an incumbent had been unseated statewide since 1988 and the first time we had a state treasurer from a rural county in over 40 years I thank god and Pennsylvanians who put their faith in me,” explained Garrity.

Her story begins in Bradford County, a graduate of Sayre High School and then earned a degree in finance and economics from Bloomsburg University.

“I was the first person in my family to go to college and it was there that I joined ROTC and from there the rest is history I spent 30 years in the army reserves,” says Garrity.

That led to a career as a cost accountant at Global Tungsten & Powders Corp., in Towanda, becoming one of the first of two female vice presidents at the company.

“I was vice president of government affairs and industry liaison,” says Garrity.

While she is proud of her accomplishments she is very honored to have served our country in the Army Reserve.

She was part of three deployments to Iraq

“I was commissioned in 1986 I had three deployments all to the Middle East desert storm in 1991, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 1993, and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2009,” said Garrity.

“In 08′- 09′ was in Camp Bucca which is in Southern Iraq we had 7000 detainees and I had 1200 soldiers under my command and we were the very first facility to zero escape attempts and zero abuse allegations,” added Garrity.

While serving in Iraq she earned the nickname “The Angel of the Desert” Garrity explains how that distinction came about.

”So I got a call from NPR they ran into a detainee he said I saved his life a lot of their detainees did not even have basic education we taught English Math, so when they did leave the camp they were able to provide for their families,” says Garrity.

Her service earned her the Bronze Star twice for exceptional service and the Legion of Merit before retiring from the Army Reserve with the rank of colonel.

Now as state treasurer, she is the fiscal watchdog for the state. One of her top priorities is returning unclaimed property. That includes the hundreds of military medals that are kept in the treasury’s vault for veterans or their loved ones.

“So because I am a veteran returning these to the veteran or the family is very near and dear to my heart because it is a way to show that we honor the sacrifice that they made on behalf of all of us,” continued Garrity.

“In so far since taking office I have given back 385 medals and memorabilia that includes six Purple Hearts and three Bronze Stars,” added Garrity.

Garrity is also proud of the fight she took on for veterans at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center opening it up to visitors again three years after the pandemic.

“So our heroes who should have been enjoying their golden years with dignity and respect were being held in a bureaucratic solitary confinement,” said Garrity.

Garrity loves her role as state treasurer and of course, being a veteran

“I am not a politician I am just a normal person from Bradford County one of the most rural counties sent to I want to fight for everyday people,” adds Garrity.

“Now I will mention if I hadn’t reached my mandatory retirement date in 2016, I would still be serving I would not be sitting here as your state treasurer- because serving was and is the honor of my lifetime,” says Garrity.

This year the treasury department returned a record amount of unclaimed property.