Photos by Jamie Wiggan
Senator-elect Devlin Robinson with Tony Ficarri National Commander of the Italian American War Veterans and Jim Bruder.
By Jamie Wiggan
After serving their country 40 years apart, Devlin Robinson and Jim Bruder stood together to receive awards for their current work in the community before a gathering of local veterans Nov. 12.
Kennedy resident Tony Ficarri presided over the ceremony, hosted by the Sto-Rox Post 30 of the Italian American War Veterans.
As the organization’s national commander, Ficarri established the Achievement Award this year to honor Robinson for securing Pennsylvania’s 37th Senate seat.
“It may become an every year thing,” Ficarri said.
“…It just all came together this year with Devlin’s race and Veteran’s Day.”
Bruder, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Pittsburgh’s Carrick neighborhood, was also recognized for his decades of service to veterans and their families.
“I do what we all do — I do to help veterans and people in need,” said Bruder, who with his wife Terri is also active in several outreach efforts of Christ Community Church in McKees Rocks.
Most recently, Bruder has worked to help Oakland-based Pittsburgh Fisher House — a free residential facility for families of recovering veterans — establish a second location in O’Hara Township.
Robinson, a former marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said his entry into politics came by way of his voluntary work within the veteran community.
“I felt called to serve veterans again when the veterans I served with succumbed to the effects of the wars they served in,” he said.
In particular, Robinson saw many struggling to adjust to non-military life after serving, and felt he could draw on his success as a civilian business owner to encourage others through their transitions.
“The one thing the Marines Corps does really well is training you for war,” he said. “…A lot of veterans don’t know where to go” when they return, he said.
After helping a number of local officials get into office as a campaign volunteer, Robinson first sought the 37th Senate District when the seat opened up for a special election in 2019, but that time he lost to fellow Republican D. Raja in the primaries.
The reliably red district turned blue during that election, where incumbent Pam Iovino defeated Raja and flipped the district to the Democrats. This time around, however, Robinson wrested the suburban district back to the GOP.
When he takes office in January, Robinson said his priorities are protecting natural resource jobs and pushing for infrastructure upgrades throughout the region.
“The main thing I want to do is advocate for Western Pennsylvania,” he said. “…I know the people, I know the players, I know the region."