Winter 2022 Edition
Why Ohio: Buckeye State is Ideal Landing Spot for Those Transitioning From Service
The Ohio Department of Veterans Services and Director Deborah Ashenhurst are intent on ensuring that Ohio is one of the most veteran- and military-friendly states in the nation – and Governor Mike DeWine, his administration, and the Ohio Legislature clearly have shown that they have our back.
Still, it is incumbent upon all of us to remind those separating from service and military family members of the advantages Ohio has to offer so that we all can benefit from their amazing work ethic, sense of service and unique talents.
The opportunity to do just that presented itself on March 3 at Fort Campbell, a huge military installation tucked along the southwest Kentucky/northwest Tennessee border. There, ODVS Workforce Team Manager Ryan Blackburn was able to join forces with other state partners at a massive job fair and engage with dozens of men and women who are just months away from separating from service and trying to decide where to re-enter the civilian world.
The event, which also included a resume-building workshop and networking opportunities, was sponsored by Hiring Our Heroes. Also in attendance representing Ohio were team members at JobsOhio and Ohio Means Jobs as well as vendors such as Intel, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Ohio Laborers Apprenticeship program, Sweeping Corp of America out of Cleveland and Kone Cranes, Inc., out of Springfield.
The information exchanged was invaluable as Blackburn chatted with military members from all across the country, several of them stating they were considering moving to Ohio in the coming year. One senior enlisted soldier said he gave Ohio immediate consideration when he learned the state offers tax-free military retirement income, a fact he shared in this video.
Finding out Ohio is among the best states in the Union for military benefits and support, VA healthcare, cost of living, job opportunities and recreation and entertainment outlets was eye-opening for many of the participants, who were encouraged to visit websites such as OhioVets.gov and FindYourOhio.com.
Blackburn and the ODVS Workforce Team will continue their yearlong quest to meet with service members at various military installations across the country on March 24 at Fort Riley in Kansas and with MCAS Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in April.
ODVS Puts Military History, Feats in Spotlight
If you like to support and prop up veterans, learn more about military history and resources for those who served and connect with others who share the same interests, you’re following the right department.
This year, ODVS has embarked on its most vigorous social media effort yet – a series of monthlong campaigns that began with the continuation of debuting new video vignettes featuring recent inductees of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in January, a full slate of posts related to Black History Month in February, the current run of posts that shed light on outstanding Ohio women of service in March, which is Women’s History Month and much more to come.
During the next several months, ODVS will continue to bring light to outstanding veterans from different walks of life, eras and backgrounds on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Out audience also can keep up with our outreach ventures on Instagram and even find photo albums from key events on Flickr.
After highlighting African Americans who have changed the Ohio landscape in February and women of service who have made their mark on the military and beyond in March, we’ll shift our attention to heroes of combat who deserve our reflection and commendation. Also, the department will continue to highlight some of the many noteworthy military museums, memorials and monuments that can be found all across the state. And our followers will learn more about the outstanding resources and benefits available to veterans and military families.
Our extra coverage of Black History month included the unveiling of new videos about the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, the Ohio Tuskegee Airmen 80th Anniversary and “7 Sites to Explore Ohio’s African American Military History.” March included a “7 Ohio Military Women You Should Know” video and pieces on several of the 74 women who have been inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.
In April of 2021, ODVS launched its first-ever “Medal of Honor Month,” telling the stories of one Medal of Honor recipient from Ohio each day. Those outstanding individuals also are enshrined in the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. From our nation’s very first recipient, Jacob Parrott, to last year’s discovery of WWII’s Joe Nishimoto, we will share how 30 Ohioans went above and beyond on the battlefield.
In May of 2020, as part of ODVS’s first-ever "Memorial Month," we reached out to Ohio’s County Veterans Service Offices in the 31 largest counties to identify a location in each county worthy of honoring veterans during the month of May. We did the same for the next 31 most populous counties in 2021. With more points of interest in 2022, ODVS will finish its “lap” around Ohio, with the remaining 26 counties to be featured.
And in June we will unveil BAR (Benefits and Resources) Month, which will provide daily insight, background and links to many of the valuable outlets available to #OhioVets.
Time to Nominate a HOF-Worthy Veteran
The deadline for submitting nominations for the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame is set for June 1, 2022, which means this spring will be a crucial time for ODVS to rely on the judgment of fellow Ohioans as we endeavor to again identify some of the outstanding former service members who are excelling and making a difference in society.
The Ohio Veterans 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. However, it is up to the public – not our department – to submit nominations, which are reviewed by the 13-member Hall of Fame Executive Committee that recommends up to 20 Ohio veterans each year. Final approval on each class comes from the Governor of Ohio.
Last year, the Hall of Fame inducted the Class of 2021 during three separate ceremonies due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we hope to stage a more traditional Induction Ceremony this fall and have plans in place for a three-class Enshrinement Ceremony in June, it is once again time to illuminate outstanding service after service and begin the process to identify a 2022 Hall of Fame class.
To be considered, the veteran must meet the following criteria:
- Be a past or current Ohio resident
- Have received an honorable discharge
- Be of good moral character
(Note: The Hall of Fame accepts nominations for those who would be inducted posthumously.)
You more than likely 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 Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame will celebrate a 30-year anniversary on Veterans Day of this year. It is home to more than 300 Medal of Honor recipients and more than 600 amazing men and women since its inception in 1992, including the likes of John Glenn, Woody Hayes, Kathryn Sullivan and Clark Gable. Still, there are seven Ohio counties who do not yet have claim to an inductee and there is room for so many more deserving former service members.
Again, the nomination deadline is June 1, 2022. Nomination guidelines, a sample of a completed nomination form and more information are available at our Hall of Fame Nomination page.
You can also learn more about the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame and see the complete list of Hall of Fame inductees by going to the Hall of Fame landing page at OhioVets.gov.
Ohio Women Veterans Conference Returns in 2022
The Ohio Women Veterans Conference is returning in 2022 – and to a familiar location.
Normally a biennial event, the conference did not occur last year as originally planned because of safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Last held in 2019 at The Ohio Union on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, the conference will return to that outstanding venue on August 6, 2022.
Organizers currently are shaping this highly anticipated daylong event – one of the largest of its kind in the country – to assemble resources, speakers, workshops, avenues to key information and networking opportunities. Already in the works is a resource fair, allowing veterans service organizations, government agencies, VA program representatives, employers, personal care companies, financial services, volunteer services and other vendors to directly connect with women veterans. Registration is now available for this important facet of the conference.
Ohio is home to approximately 67,000 women veterans. The 2019 conference drew 460 registrants and included remarks from Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Director Ashenhurst and Rear Admiral (ret.) June Ryan, who gave an inspirational address during the luncheon. In addition to 12 breakout sessions, the previous conference also featured two expo areas, an art and women military uniform exhibit, County Veteran Services Officers and the HER2 Room for Health, Empowerment, Restoration and Relaxation.
Similar options will be available this year. It’s also worth noting the Aug. 6 date lines up with several other key events in Columbus such as the Ohio State Fair and a Columbus Crew home game.
Make sure to check for updates on the Ohio Women Veterans Conference in the coming weeks and months.
On The Road Again
With the state gradually moving its way back to business as usual and familiar gatherings returning to form, ODVS has ramped up its outreach efforts of late.
In the first two weeks of March alone, Director Ashenhurst participated in several veteran-related events including serving as keynote speaker at the NEOPAT Gala in Independence on March 5, addressing large audiences at two landmark programs in central Ohio on March 8-9, and speaking directly to transitioning veterans and vendors at a hiring fair in Parma on March 14.
Founded in 2011, NEOPAT serves veterans and military families in northeast Ohio. The tagline for this year’s Gala was “Spotlight on Post Traumatic Growth” and the Director shared traditional and non-traditional ways the department is addressing mental health issues for former service members.
On March 8 at Hilliard Davidson High School, Director Ashenhurst joined Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner, Ohio Adjutant General John C. Harris, Jr., State Senator Stephanie Kunze and Purple Star Schools point person Valerie Kunze as they announced the creation of the first-ever “Collegiate Purple Star” designation in the country. In 2017, Ohio’s PreK-12 school system led the nation by creating the “Purple Star” designation for those schools that provide special support to student veterans and military family members. Chancellor Gardner unveiled plans to expand those efforts to the collegiate level as well as a new logo.
The following day, hundreds gathered at the Columbus Convention Center to participate in the annual All-Ohio U.S. Armed Forces Career Commitment Celebration, the Ohio Department of Education event that recognizes military signing day across the state.
Director Ashenhurst thanked military families and supporters for playing a role in producing the next wave of young women and men to sign up for military service. Gen. Harris also offered remarks and officially swore in the signees. Lt. Governor Husted also offered his heartfelt thanks and spoke of the value of service.
The following week, Director Ashenhurst teamed up with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, several state legislators and County Veterans Service Officers and other special guests and local dignitaries at Sheet Metal Workers Local 33 just outside of Cleveland to attend a hiring fair and learn more about the five-year apprenticeship program there, which is very welcoming to veterans. The visit included a full tour of the facility’s state-of-the-art training center.
To keep up with some of ODVS's outreach efforts, don't forget to check out our On the Road video series page.