Fall 2019 Edition
Governor Helps Induct 2019 Class into Vets HOF
November is a highly important month in terms of bringing awareness to military service members and their families including, of course, Veterans Day, which occurs each Nov. 11. In Ohio, the lead-up to Veterans Day also brings with it another noteworthy annual celebration – the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
This year, on Nov. 7, the ceremony returned to Radiant Life Church in Dublin, Ohio, and once again it proved to be both memorable and awe-inspiring. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine offered remarks of gratitude, praised the remarkable accomplishments of the 2019 class, and joined ODVS Director Deborah Ashenhurst in presenting them with official plaques and medals to mark the occasion. Nineteen of the 20 inductees were on hand to receive their honor while class member Mark Hannan, a U.S. Army veteran from Stark County, was inducted posthumously and represented by his wife, Dee.
The 2019 class included former service members from 14 different Ohio counties and four branches of the armed forces. Its members ranged in age from 49 (Army veteran John Dreska of Franklin County) to 98 (Army veteran Bert Szabo of Summit County). In fact, the class included three nonagenarians, each of them receiving a standing ovation.
The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame recognizes achievement of Ohio's military members after service. If you know a deserving veteran, please go to our nomination form.
A Very Memorable Veterans Day in Georgetown
The Ohio Department of Veterans Services celebrated a very special Veterans Day at the Ohio Veterans Home in Georgetown as Governor DeWine was on hand as well as a uniformed Maj. Gen. Ashenhurst (U.S. Army, retired). But the stars of the Nov. 11 program were the students from St. Veronica School in Mount Carmel, Ohio, who sang patriotic songs, recited verses about the American flag and Pledge of Allegiance, and presented cards of gratitude to the residents, who are wartime veterans.
The hourlong program began with a welcome address from OVH-Georgetown Administrator Linda Slone followed by an invocation from Chaplain John Baird. After a lengthy and entertaining performance by the St. Veronica students, Director Ashenhurst introduced Gov. DeWine, who thanked the residents for their service and chatted with the youngsters. The Governor, who visited the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky in late March on Vietnam Veterans Day, also spent time with veterans and staff members in the Georgetown dining area and hallways before leaving the facility. He also chatted with World War II veteran Charles Dawson.
The program also included the inaugural presentation of the Ohio Governor's Excellence in Service Award by Governor DeWine. Tammy Puff, Military and Veterans Liaison for the Governor, shared background on the two recipients: VETMotorSports Founder and Executive Director Pete Cline and orthotist/prosthetist Terese Hurin of the VA Medical Center in Cleveland. The award is designed to recognize non-veterans who have gone above and beyond in service to those who served. Also on hand was State Rep. Doug Green (66th District).
Employers Laud Service Members on their Staffs
Ohio now has more than 5,000 businesses that have been accredited as military-friendly, and some of them, not surprisingly, are household names. As Veterans Day approached, ODVS Director Ashenhurst was able to participate in two on-site programs on Nov. 8 at employers that long have coveted the value of having veterans in the workplace – the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Director Ashenhurst began the day just outside of downtown Columbus at the transit center for COTA, which serves 1.2 million residents of greater Columbus and central Ohio. Veterans make up more than 10 percent of COTA’s workforce and dozens of them were on hand for a Veterans Breakfast and program during which the Director joined President/CEO Joanna Pinkerton in offering words of gratitude and thanked the agency for tapping into the skill sets of former service members. This year, COTA offered free bus fares to active military members and veterans on Nov. 11.
Director Ashenhurst then headed to Akron and the worldwide headquarters for Goodyear, which employs thousands of veterans. Goodyear held a fifth-annual salute to current and former military members in the company, including Guard members and Reservists who have been deployed. Tom Peeples, President of the Goodyear Veterans Association, served as organizer and emcee of the program, and introduced Director Ashenhurst to a gathering of hundreds of employees that included Chairman/CEO/President Richard Kramer. In addition to the on-site celebration, Goodyear later honored local veterans at a semi-formal dinner event in downtown Akron.
Vet Apprenticeships at Military-Friendly Companies
National Apprenticeship Week carries a lot of meaning in Ohio, where several business have effective apprenticeship programs. Some of these are especially helpful to veterans who can use their GI Bill funds while learning a new trade. On Nov. 14, Director Ashenhurst visited the AEP Energy A. Ray King Transmission Training Center and Performance Training Solutions (PTS) in Licking County to commend each for their use of apprenticeships and penchant for hiring Ohio vets.
Also joining on the visit were April Foster, the Director of the Licking County Veterans Service Office, and Stephen Carson, who serves as a Program Delivery Manager for OhioMeansJobs. At each location, the Director presented an OhioMeansJobs Challenge Coin to upper management members and also presented an ODVS department coin to veterans in the workforce. Both AEP and PTS provided a tour of its facility for the visiting party and shed light on the company’s efforts to hire and retain veterans. Four of AEP’s 14 staff members at the training facility are vets and this fall 10 former service members were enrolled in AEP’s Transmission Line Mechanic Registered Apprenticeship Program while tapping into their GI Bill. PTS had two veterans taking part in a similar apprenticeship program.
Businesses and Orgs Reach Out to Vets in Need
ODVS was proud to join dozens of other organizations at the 24th Annual Central Ohio Stand Down, held Oct. 15 at the Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus. The Stand Down provided free food, clothing, shoes, toiletries, haircuts, medical screening, legal fees, and other services to nearly 600 #OhioVets in need and also connected many of them to job opportunities. ODVS provided resource guides to visitors and pointed veterans to valuable information regarding their well-earned benefits. Our recent "On the Road" video took a look back at several of the organizations that helped serve those who already served.
The Central Ohio Stand Down is a nonprofit endeavor that has become one of the largest annual programs of its kind in Ohio. Recent Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame inductee Rick Isbell chairs the committee that organizes the event.
For more information on the many outlets available to veterans in need, please visit our Benefits page of OhioVets.gov.