(a) It is the duty and function of The Veterans' Council to advise the secretary on the general administrative policies of the department, to select, at their first meeting in each fiscal year commencing on July 1, a chairperson to serve one year, to advise the secretary on rules as may be necessary, to advise the Governor and the Legislature with respect to legislation affecting the interests of veterans, their widows, widowers, dependents and orphans and to make annual reports to the Governor respecting the service of the department. The secretary has the same eligibility and qualifications prescribed for members of the Veterans' Council. The secretary ex officio shall maintain all records of the Veterans' Council.
(b) The Veterans' Council may annually honor each West Virginian graduating from the U. S. Military Academy, the U. S. Naval Academy, the U. S. Air Force Academy and the U. S. Coast Guard Academy with the highest grade point average by bestowing upon him or her the West Augusta Award. The award shall be in a design and form established by the council and include the famous Revolutionary War phrase from which the award's name is derived: "Once again our brethren from West Augusta have answered the call to duty." The council shall coordinate the manner of recognition of the recipient at graduation ceremonies with each academy.