Summer 2020 Edition
Outstanding 2020 Class to Enter Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame
As summer was winding down, the Ohio Department of Veterans Services unveiled the 20-member roster for the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2020. Governor Mike DeWine offered words of praise for these outstanding Ohioans during his press conference on Sept. 15, noting the group joins very prestigious company.
The complete list of inductees into the Hall of Fame follows:
- Paul G. Butler Navy Clinton
- David W. Chilson* Navy Wood
- Richard D. Ellsworth Army Licking
- Timothy A. Espich Army/OHARNG Clark
- Kimberly D. Frisco Air Force Greene
- William C. Graybill Army Brown
- Glenn H. Grismere Army Warren
- Kenneth P. Jakubec Marine Corps Mahoning
- Thomas J. Jenks Army Cuyahoga
- James D. Kaster Army Cuyahoga
- Daniel R. Kirkpatrick Air Force Greene
- Babe Kwasniak Army Cuyahoga
- David C. Lange Navy Carroll
- Jane M. Lengel Army/OHARNG Franklin
- David G. Meyer Air Force Montgomery
- Carolyn E. Nagy Army Lucas
- Connie Pillich Air Force Hamilton
- David M. Ridenour Army Wood
- James P. Schear Navy Stark
- Alan R. Wallace Navy Fairfield
* Posthumous Award
These impressive inductees will be honored individually for their accomplishments and achievements this fall, and ODVS intends to document those presentations and compile them in a final virtual Induction Ceremony that will be made public on Nov. 5. That event will mark the entrance of the 29th class of the Hall of Fame, which originated in 1992 to honor Ohioans who served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces and then went on to impact their nation, state, and communities through entrepreneurship, innovation, caregiving, volunteerism, advocacy, and other selfless deeds.
This stellar class represents 16 Ohio counties and four military branches. The Class of 2020 was chosen from among 136 nominations, joining 895 Ohio veterans who represent all eras, branches of service, and walks of life. Honorees of the past 28 years include six U.S presidents and all Medal of Honor recipients from Ohio as well as astronauts, community volunteers, community leaders, safety officers, veteran advocates, and government officials.
Stay tuned to OhioVets.gov in the coming weeks for more information, including photos and bios for all 20 honorees.
Veterans Homes Remain Vigilant During Pandemic
Care for our residents at the Ohio Veterans Homes in Sandusky and Georgetown – and the safety of all who are on our campuses – are of the utmost importance for our department, especially as the nation continues its battle against COVID-19. Unfortunately, despite implementing stringent restrictions and precautions that even exceed CDC guidelines, we suffered the loss of 17 residents at OVH-Sandusky and in recent weeks have experienced our first positive cases of coronavirus at OVH-Georgetown.
We continue to conduct mass testing at each facility and have limited spread by observing social distancing, using proper PPE, and moving residents who are either positive or showing symptoms to isolated Enhanced Care Units.
Despite these challenges, OVH Superintendent Terry Prince, a Navy veteran, said he is impressed with the resolve and dedication of both staff and residents as the Homes near the six-month mark of dealing with the pandemic. He said as a show of unity, employees and loved ones have purchased hundreds of T-shirts adorned with the emblem “#OVHStrong.”
“That has taken on new meaning around here,” Prince said. “It’s not just a hashtag; it’s a mindset. We’re all in the together and knowing that has really emboldened our staff.”
Residents also have managed to keep up their morale despite the limitations and the fact that their family members are not able to visit them inside the Homes. They stay in touch through window visits and the use of iPads. Also, a new closed-circuit unit allows residents to view church services on the TVs in their rooms. Hallway bingo remains a hit as well as ice cream socials and specialized meals such as a steak fry.
On Sept. 11, veterans and staff members at each Home observed the tragic losses of 19 years ago with a moment of silence and the playing of “God Bless America” followed by the sounds of carillon bells. In a note to staff, Prince said, “Patriots from all backgrounds and all walks of life responded to this terror with speed, courage, and compassion. 9/11 has evolved into a national day of service and remembrance. On this day Americans across the country are called on to volunteer in their local communities in tribute to the individuals lost and injured in the attacks, first responders and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have risen in service to defend our freedom.”
Construction projects also are in the works including the replacement of windows at OVH-Sandusky and improvements to the roof at OVH-Georgetown. Also, Prince recently announced that the Ohio DAV purchased two vehicles and graciously will donate them to the OVH-Sandusky for use. A 2020 eight-passenger Ford Explorer is en route and the other vehicle will be a 2020 12-passenger Ford Transit.
Remembering Great Accomplishment, Honoring Service
One the many missions of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services is to educate and honor Ohioans about the role our heroes have played in the defense of our country. No generation made a greater sacrifice than our “Greatest Generation” during WWII.
For the 75th anniversary of VJ-Day, ODVS teamed up with Governor DeWine’s office to put together a video about Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, a member of the 101st Airborne famously depicted in the books and cable miniseries “Band of Brothers.” Using his own words from a new interview and various clips from news organizations over the years, Martin shared his experiences from jumping out of his C-47 Skytrain on the eve of D-Day in Normandy through the Battle of the Bulge. Watch Jim "Pee Wee" Martin: In His Own Words.
ODVS also put the spotlight on the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb, the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, and the 30th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War in 1990. We paused to honor those who have passed after dedicating their post-military lives to service our communities including the legendary television weather caster and Wollybear Festival founder Dick Goddard as well as 1992 Inaugural Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Honoree and Medal of Honor recipient Ron Rosser.
Finally, despite COVID cutting down on our ability to conduct outreach, we were able to let the world know about the new Purple Heart license plates just released across Ohio, and informed veterans and their families about the many benefits and resources available to them through our new What We Do PSA.
Workforce Team Breaks New Ground
As the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the employment landscape and increased work-from-home norms, our Ohio Veterans Workforce Team members have adjusted as well. For example, it augmented offerings of free, SHRM-accredited online webinars, presenting at least every other week. Since March, the Workforce Team – which consists of Team Manager Ryan Blackburn and Regional Consultants Dan Semsel and Tiffany Chavers – has presented more than a dozen such webinars to nearly 200 employers covering a variety of veteran hiring topics including “Military Culture” and “Managing Veterans.” Still this calendar year, more webinars are scheduled for Sept. 25, Oct. 16, Nov. 6, Nov. 20 and Dec. 11.
The team has developed nine training modules for company human resources, recruiting, and management professionals. New this year is a presentation that covers "Hiring Military Spouses,” which includes demographics, the challenges spouses face, and best practices to recruit and hire them. It also examines current employment statistics and some of the benefits available to military spouses.
Our Workforce Team continues to try to expand its reach and impact on Ohio and military-friendly employers. Recently, team members attended the virtual 2020 Warrior Symposium and has heard from national leaders on veteran issues, including employment and transition. Meanwhile, Semsel presented veteran resources and talked about team initiatives during multiple virtual resource events held by Blue Star Families of Dayton. Many of these online events also feature the collaborative efforts of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Tourism Ohio, and JobsOhio.
Since ODVS instituted the Veterans Workforce Team in October 2016, consultants have contacted more than 15,000 employers and engaged more than 12,000 of them in 250-plus training sessions. With three trainings in August of this year, the Workforce Team has surpassed the 2,000 mark for employers in attendance with that total reaching 2,018 as of Sept. 1. The total number of attendees at those trainings is 3,890.
Women Veterans Honored in Ohio
A very important facet of the veteran community in Ohio is our women veterans – all 67,000 of them. ODVS is committed to bringing more awareness and voice to women who served in the military, and their efforts and initiatives can be found at the new Women Veterans portion of the ODVS website. It includes a look at the Ohio Women Veterans Advisory Committee, the “I Am Not Invisible” project, which features unique photos and bios of 70 women veterans from all across the state, and information on the Ohio Women Veterans Conference, including a look at the one held in 2019. Normally a biennial event, the next Ohio Women Veterans Conference has been shifted from 2021 to summer 2022 to allow more time for organization and to distance from the precaution and restrictions associated with the current pandemic.
This summer was a momentous time for women veterans in the state. On June 12, exactly six months after Governor DeWine signed Senate Bill 77, Ohio celebrated Women Veterans Day for the first time. Our Facebook entry that day depicting the observance became our highest-viewed social media post in department history with more than 4,000 engagements and reaching and audience of more than 37,000. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 10 percent of veterans nationwide, or around two million, are female. However, Ohio is one of just a handful of states to observe Women Veterans Day.
On Aug. 18, the nation celebrated the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. The 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, guaranteeing and protecting the constitutional right for women to vote.
Also of note, the 2020 class of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame includes four women of great distinction – Kimberly Frisco (Air Force), Jane Lengel (Army and Army National Guard), Carolyn Nagy (Army), and Connie Pillich (Air Force). That quartet of honorees brings the total number of women Inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame to 71.