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Gregg Zoroya
12:47 p.m. EDT June 18, 2014

Actors have Oscars. Live theater, the Tony Awards. Journalists receive Pulitzers and scientists Nobel Prizes.

Now there is the Lincoln — for veterans.

The idea is to recognize exemplary service by and for veterans. The award is the brain child of an ex-Green Beret and former assistant secretary with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Tommy Sowers, in cooperation with the Friars Club and Friars Foundation.

The 10 award categories include lifetime achievement recognition for selfless service by a veteran and outstanding achievement by a veteran in helping other former servicemembers. The remaining categories recognize those who helped veterans through government, medicine or science, caregiving, entertainment, art, business and in the non-profit and public arenas, according to a Lincoln Awards press release.

"It's really for veterans and those who care for them," says Sowers, who served as a VA assistant secretary from 2012-2014. He currently is a visiting assistant professor at Duke University. "We want to shine a light on those who are really doing great work."

Candidates from the public will be vetted by the Friars Foundation with recipients chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of former military and veteran officials, including two ex-VA secretaries, a Medal of Honor recipient and a former Army vice chief of staff.

With the Friars Club participation, the initiative has a strong celebrity element. Jerry Lewis is on the awards committee and several actors and entertainers are on an advisory board. The awards will be presented during a two-day event Jan. 6-7 that will include a concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

People who wish to nominate award candidates can visit www.thelincolnawards.org through Aug. 18, according to a release by the Lincoln Awards.

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