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Ohio Veterans Newsletter, Spring 2021

Ohio Veterans Update

Spring 2021 Edition

OVH Completes Seamless Transition to New Superintendent

Ohio Veterans Homes Superintendent Ross Matlack

This spring brought new hope to the Ohio Veterans Homes as well as noteworthy change at the top of the administration.

The Ohio Department of Veterans Services (ODVS) announced at the beginning of April that Ross Matlack had been appointed as the new Superintendent of the Homes, replacing Terry Prince, who left to pursue another opportunity in service to veterans.

Matlack is a seasoned healthcare executive who brings more than 25 years of experience to the position. Since 2018, he has served as the OVH compliance officer. When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the nation last year, he was tasked to serve as Incident Commander for the Ohio Veterans Homes.

Matlack’s ascension to Superintendent has been virtually seamless since he already was at the right hand of Prince, who had held the position since May 2018 and guided the Homes through an ever-challenging health crisis that is just now waning. Prince is now the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, making him one of just 50 such people at the forefront of state government with regard to veterans services – a list that includes ODVS Director Deborah Ashenhurst.

“I am very happy for Terry and thrilled that he will be my counterpart in a nearby state so I will get to continue our professional relationship to serve veterans,” Director Ashenhurst said. “Terry has been a pivotal leader in our fight against COVID-19 and in protecting our veterans. He has served as our Superintendent with all his heart. He has made a big difference with our residents and as a member of this leadership team. He will be greatly missed.”

Asst. Dir. McCarthy Honors Former Superintendent PrinceOn March 30, Prince’s final day at OVH, he received the department’s inaugural Major General Manning Force Award for Distinguished Service. The recognition is presented by the Director of Veterans Services for distinguished service in a position of significant responsibility.

The award is named for Major General Manning Force, a Civil War hero who served as the first superintendent of the Ohio Veterans Homes.

Shortly after receiving the award, Prince relinquished authority for the Homes to Matlack in a short ceremony at the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky. Matlack takes over at a time when coronavirus cases are dwindling and the Homes have plans in place to add residents, allow visitation and resume certain activities – procedures that were halted during the COVID outbreak but will be re-implemented in moderation.

Final Call for 2021 Hall of Fame Nominations

The deadline for submitting nominations for the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame is just weeks away and we want to hear from those who know former service members who are excelling and making a difference in society. 

Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame MedallionEach year, the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame inducts up to 20 veterans based on recommendations from an Executive Committee of veterans from throughout the state and approval from the Governor of Ohio.

Now in its 28th year, the Hall of Fame recognizes those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and continue to contribute to our communities, state, and nation through exceptional acts of volunteerism, advocacy, professional distinction, public service, or philanthropy.

Last year, the Hall of Fame inducted the Class of 2020 in a series of individual ceremonies due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While we're not sure what form this year's Induction Ceremony will take, it is once again time to illuminate outstanding service after service. 

Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Enshrinee Honored

The deadline to submit nomination forms for consideration for the 2021 class of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame is June 15. Don’t delay. Nominate a worthy candidate today.

More than likely, you know a veteran who continues to serve selflessly in his or her post-military life — a former service member who is going above and beyond to impact others.

The nomination form and guidelines, a sample of a completed nomination form, and more information are available at our Hall of Fame nomination page. You also will find a complete list of Hall of Fame inductees.

For more information, call (614) 644-0898 or email halloffame@dvs.ohio.gov.

ODVS on In-Demand Jobs, Public Service Recognition Weeks

Public Service Recognition and In-Demand Jobs WeeksThe first full week of May was an important one for many state agencies, including the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. Not only did we spotlight employees during Public Service Recognition Week (May 2-8), which allows us to honor the men and women of the State of Ohio workforce, ODVS also fully recognized In-Demand Jobs Week (May 3-7) with a series of social media posts and events.

During Public Service Recognition Week, we unveiled Facebook posts and pictures of various members of the ODVS team including Dr. Gianfranco Valle, Medical Director of OVH-Georgetown, Housekeeping employee Colleen Preston of OVH-Sandusky, and a member of our Communications staff, Public Information Officer Ryan Griffin.

Dr. Gianfranco Valle

Meanwhile, we made sure to bring light to In-Demand Jobs Week with the following: 

May 3 – An infographic outlining the Top 10 In-Demand Jobs for veterans (compiled by Navy Federal and Hire Heroes USA) 
May 4 – The Ohio Veterans Home Hiring Fair, an all-day event including remarks from Director Ashenhurst, OVH superintendent Ross Matlack and HR professionals at each Ohio Veterans Home 
May 5 – Promotion of our upcoming Military Spouses training session presented by our Veterans Workforce Team, which educates Ohio employers on ways to seek out, hire, retain, and incentivize veterans 
May 6 – Publication of social media posts about National Nurses Day, allowing us to thank the hundreds of caregivers at our Homes 
May 7 – Presentation of the live online training session and posting of our Workforce PSA video, which served as a reminder that ODVS addresses avenues to work for those separating from service and their loved ones – many of those opportunities being recognized as In-Demand Jobs

Job Interview

We thank EVERYONE at ODVS for the wonderful tasks they perform each day to honor and support Ohio’s veterans and military families.




Monthly Campaigns a Highlight of ODVS Social Media Posts

Memorial Flags

Six months out of the year ODVS shares the story of Ohio’s veterans each day through several month-long social media campaigns.

Following up African American and Women’s History Months in February and March, ODVS launched its first ever Medal of Honor Month sharing the stories of how 30 Ohioans received their Medals of Honor ranging from the first ever MOH recipient, Jacob Parrot, during the civil war, to our latest Edward C. Byers Jr. from Operation Enduring Freedom. In May, we continued our second annual Memorial Month project, highlighting one monument, memorial or museum in each of the next 31 counties across Ohio. During May’s Asian Pacific American Islander Heritage Month, our research team discovered Marion Ohio’s MOH recipient Joe M. Nishimoto had not been added to our new and improved Medal of Honor website, and WBNS 10TV in Columbus featured his story and interviewed ODVS Assistant Director Sean McCarthy.

Jim "Pee Wee" Martin speaks to Governor DeWineDocumenting the story of veterans also took center stage at the Governor’s Holocaust Remembrance virtual ceremony where an interview Director Ashenhurst did with WWII Holocaust liberator Robert Coyne was shared. The national spotlight was shined on famed 101st Airborne and "Screaming Eagle" Jim "Pee Wee" Martin when we went "On The Road" to celebrate his 100th birthday Jump fest in Xenia, Ohio. Governor Mike DeWine, the six living members of the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles,” the U.S. Army Golden Knights, country music star Karen Waldrup joined WWII demonstration teams, the U.S. Army 101st, 82nd Airborne Divisions, veterans, dignitaries and others as well as three historic aircraft from the D-Day invasion to wish “Pee Wee” a happy 100th birthday.

Finally, ODVS teamed up with The Cleveland Clinic to share the incredible story of the Clinic’s four founders, veterans who started the clinic 100 years ago as America emerged from WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic (LINK CC100 Video). Visit our social media sites often as we honor, educate and connect Ohio’s veterans.

ODVS Caps off Women's History Month Veterans Forum

As a highlight of our month-long effort to recognize outstanding women of service during Women’s History Month, the Ohio Department of Veterans Services presented a Women Veterans Forum. This video program premiered on March 22 on ODVS’s official YouTube page and social media platforms.

In years past, this well-received event featured women veterans participating in a discussion panel at the Ohio History Connection to share stories of their service. This year, with COVID-19 still altering our way of life, the Forum was a virtual event with a twist: It included a panel of six women who work in varying capacities at the Ohio Veterans Homes – three who are staff members at OVH-Sandusky in Erie County and three who work at OVH-Georgetown in Brown County. Two of the panelists are military veterans; all six “serve those who served” at the Homes, which provide comfort and care for wartime veterans. 

Women Veterans Forum

Director Ashenhurst moderated the discussion, which was taped from a Microsoft Teams meeting held on March 16. The 38-minute Forum is still viewable to all and features insightful comments from each of the panelists as they share stories about their upbringing, their connection to the military and why they now work at the Ohio Veterans Homes.

Our 2021 Panelists 

At Sandusky:

  • Angel Antkowiak, Cook 
  • Dollie Hopkins, RN Supervisor (Army veteran) 
  • Leslie McCleese, Motor Fleet Coordinator 

At Georgetown: 

  • Heather Blanton, Food Service Worker (Marine veteran; active duty in the Army Reserves) 
  • Stephanie Cummings, Nurse Practitioner 
  • Juanita Downing, Financial Analyst Supervisor

Military Puzzle