RUMFORD – Loretta Bard, a registered nurse at the Rumford Veterans’ Clinic since its beginning in 1999, was honored as an outstanding Veterans’ Administration health care employee Tuesday morning.

The national award was presented by George Jenkins, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1641 in Rumford.

“She has been strictly for the veterans ever since she came here. She even goes to vets’ homes on her way to and from work. She does a little extra and everyone loves her,” said Jenkins, reading from the citation from VFW headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“This is our girl here,” Jenkins said, presenting her with the certificate of recognition.

Bard, a Farmington resident, played a major role in organizing a trip for western Maine veterans and their spouses to the dedication of the national World War II monument in Washington, D.C. during the 2004 Memorial Day weekend.

She was touched to be honored by both the local VFW and the national organization.

“It is nice to be recognized by the people who really make a difference to me. They are the ones who are important,” she said, adding that she’s learned to appreciate even more the sacrifices made by veterans now that at least a dozen local soldiers who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq have been coming to the clinic.

“This has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” she said as she hugged Jenkins.

The national VFW chooses one nomination from each state each year for the special honor. Her award was made for 2005.