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Ohio Veterans Newsletter

Ohio Veterans Update

Summer 2022 Edition

Biennial Conference Draws Hundreds of Women Veterans

The 2022 Ohio Women Veterans Conference

The 2022 Ohio Women Veterans Conference was worth the wait.

Last held in 2019, the biennial event was on the books to resume in 2021 but eventually cancelled because of health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the conference returned in grand fashion on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, as approximately 300 women veterans from throughout Ohio and nearby states gathered at the Ohio Union on the campus of The Ohio State University for a day filled with special guest speakers, breakout sessions, a luncheon, wellness activities, a resource expo and networking opportunities.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Deborah Ashenhurst were featured speakers during the opening ceremony in the morning, and MAJ Kimberly Snow and MSG Desiree Layne addressed a filled Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom during the luncheon to discuss the efforts of the military’s Female Engagement Teams. Kim Frisco, a 2020 inductee of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame and the current Executive Director of the Montgomery County Veterans Service Office (CVSO), served as emcee throughout the day.

One of the breakout sessions centered on education and employment benefits for veterans and featured input from Ohio General Manager Jim Evers of Intel, Jared Shank of the Ohio Department of Higher Ed and ODVS Workforce Manager Ryan Blackburn. Other sessions touched on topics such as healthcare, mentorship, transition out of the military, entrepreneurship, apprenticeship and maximizing VA benefits.

Women Pose at the 2022 Ohio Women Veterans Conference

In addition to the many breakout sessions, the conference featured a large expo, a smaller job and education-centric expo, a women’s military uniform exhibit, CVSO information and the HER2 Room for Health, Empowerment, Restoration and Relaxation. Attendees also had access to a special showing of “The SixTripleEight” documentary about the all-black female battalion that served in the European Theater during World War II.

Director Ashenhurst wrapped up the daylong event with words of gratitude and a salute to those who served. Also offering remarks was Angela Beltz, chair of the Ohio Women Veterans Advisory Committee. Ohio is home to approximately 67,000 women veterans – and we thank them all for their service and dedication to our nation.

You can find our On The Road video that encapsulates the day on YouTube and at OhioVets.gov. Also, the conference has been captured in pictures in our Flickr Album.

For additional information on the conference, visit our Women Veterans Conference webpage.

Christmas in July Brings Holiday Cheer to Veterans Homes

Christmas in July Celebration at OVH Georgetown

The summer heat usually doesn’t evoke thoughts about the yuletide season, but the residents of our Ohio Veterans Homes were treated to a Christmas in July celebration last month. ODVS hosts this wonderful event at each Home annually with help from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and numerous volunteers.

On July 13, at a ceremony held in the Great Room of the Ohio Veterans Home in Georgetown, ODVS Assistant Director Sean McCarthy, Nursing Home Administrator Linda Slone and Ohio American Legion Past Commander Jean Wilson offered remarks of gratitude while Ernie Moore of ODRC served as Master of Ceremonies. The festivities continued with volunteers passing out presents to the veterans and an afternoon of bingo.

Christmas in July Celebration at OVH Sandusky

On July 28, the merriment shifted to Sandusky. Mr. Moore returned to his role as emcee while other dignitaries – including AD McCarthy of OVH Superintendent Ross Matlack – honored residents at the original Ohio Veterans Home, which is home to hundreds of wartime veterans. Many of them attended the ceremony at the Home’s outdoor pavilion and stayed for a picnic lunch, bingo, and a plethora of presents.

Christmas in July is a hallmark day at the Homes but just one of many activities available throughout the year to the residents of Georgetown and Sandusky, including those who live in the domiciliary.

Ohio Taps Project Pays Tribute to Fallen Service Members

Heading into Memorial Day and in search of a way to honor central Ohioans who paid the ultimate sacrifice to our nation, longtime anchor Angela An of WBNS 10TV reached out to ODVS to see if we could help the station identify KIAs from various U.S. conflicts. We obliged, of course, and 10TV was able to show those infographics throughout Memorial Day weekend newscasts.

Ohio Taps Project Overview

That simple request led to the development of ODVS’s Ohio Taps Project, which entails the department paying tribute to a fallen Ohio service member on social media so that our audience can learn more about the brave men and women who died in service to our country, never getting the chance to become an Ohio veteran. These posts, which can be found on our official Facebook page, began on Memorial Day, appear each evening at sunset Eastern time, and will run through to Nov. 11 – Veterans Day. Taps Tribute to Maxton W. Soviak

ODVS long has played a role in honoring the fallen and the loved ones they leave behind. Annually, the department hosts the Governor’s Wreath Laying close to Memorial Day. This solemn ceremony, typically held near the Veterans Plaza on the east lawn of the Ohio Statehouse, honors service members from the state who recently lost their lives as well as all Gold Star families.

Since the Civil War, more than 28,000 Ohioans have died in service to America.

Connecting with the Veteran Community at the State Fair

ODVS Director Ashenhurst Greets Veterans at the Fair

The return to full operations at the Ohio State Fair once again allowed ODVS the opportunity to meet with a multitude of veterans and military family members and create a memorable experience for many. Keeping with tradition, the first Sunday of the Fair – July 31 – was marked as Veterans & Military Day and ODVS personnel, including Director Ashenhurst, greeted visitors throughout the day as they entered the fairgrounds near the Cardinal Gate.

Joining us at our display table were representatives of nearby County Veterans Service Offices and the Chalmers P. Wylie VA Hospital (Columbus VA). Ohio is home to more than 700,000 veterans and each year thousands of them visit the Ohio State Fair. Crowds at the Ohio State Fair

Several prominent veterans, including honorees of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, also participated in a special parade in the afternoon. The parade winds its way from the northern tip of Ohio Department of Natural Resources Park, along the Food Highway and across 17th Avenue. Members of our staff and veterans of distinction manned one of the floats and passed out schedule cards with ODVS information. Veterans waved to fairgoers and onlookers cheered on the former service members in a wonderful display of gratitude.

ODVS Staff at the Ohio State Fair

This year, Veterans & Military Day came on a day which set a new all-time attendance mark for the Fair.

We cherish the opportunity to celebrate our amazing #OhioVets and many thanks go out to the veteran community and our partners, including the staff at the Ohio Expo Center & State Fair. Thanks for a great day – and thank you to ALL who serve our great nation.

988 Crisis Line Launches

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has established a national Veterans Crisis Line to ensure that veterans in emotional crisis have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. To operate the hotline, the VA partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Veterans, family members and friends can call the lifeline number by simply dialing 988 and then pressing 1.

988 Phone Number

The old number – 800-273-TALK (8255) – also will remain available for use. All calls are confidential and are routed to the hotline where callers can speak to counselors who are familiar with military experience about any issue that is creating a life crisis situation. The online service www.veteranscrisisline.net also remains an avenue to help.

In Ohio, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction services and the Governor’s office took point on announcing the “go live” unveiling of the new crisis line on July 16. By dialing 988, anyone who is in crisis can receive immediate help.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “988 is a statewide resource that will quickly connect anyone who needs immediate support or crisis treatment to a trained counselor who can listen and connect them with resources. I encourage Ohioans who are in crisis themselves, or helping someone who is, to call 988 for help.”

In 2020, Congress designated the new 988 dialing code to operate through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s (NSPL) network of more than 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers across the country. The service was established to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets the nation’s growing suicide and mental health related crisis care needs.

“Too often, Ohioans in crisis don’t know where to turn for help, and the stigma of asking can keep them from reaching out,” said OhioMHAS Director Lori Criss. “We are working to change all this in Ohio. Moving to a three-digit crisis number helps increase the visibility of the help available to Ohioans experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis. 988 is more than just an easy-to-remember number – it is a direct connection to a compassionate person on the other line who is trained to provide support to anyone in distress – whether that is thoughts of suicide, emotional distress or substance use crisis.”

In recent years, Ohio has prioritized $69 million in state dollars to strengthen and support crisis services in communities throughout the state. In March, Governor DeWine devoted a significant portion of his State of the State Address to his vision for the future of behavioral health in Ohio. In May, he announced his proposal to infuse $85 million in federal resources to strengthen and expand Ohio’s behavioral health care workforce to help meet rising demand for mental health and substance use disorder treatment and recovery support services.

In addition to visiting the OhioMHAS website for a full listing of additional resources, veterans, service members and their supporters are encouraged to go to ohiocares.ohio.gov. ODVS also has lots of information related to mental and behavioral health services for veterans at OhioVets.gov.

Summer Military Puzzle