Summer 2019 Edition
New Budget Paves Way for More Veteran Care
This summer marked the end of the 2018-19 biennium and set the table for Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly to put forth a new state budget. Those efforts came to fruition in July – and ensured that that former service members will continue to receive outstanding care at the Ohio Veterans Homes in Sandusky and Georgetown, facilities under the direction of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.
The budget – which was approved with bipartisan support by both the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate – states that funding for the Veterans Homes will increase from about $29.3 million to more than $41.4 million in FY 2020 and up to $45.4 million in FY 2021, which represents a two-year increase of more than $28 million.
“Ohio veterans served selflessly at home, abroad, and in our communities. Ohio’s new budget demonstrates our enduring commitment to veterans, and provides the Department of Veterans Services the resources to continue to serve the nearly 800,000 former service members who live in Ohio, especially the residents of the Ohio Veterans Homes,” ODVS Director Deborah Ashenhurst said. “The vast majority of the resources approved for our department go to the care of our wartime veterans. Ohio has supported the veterans of every American conflict since the Civil War. Care has changed, but our commitment has never wavered.”
Over the past decade, the Ohio Veterans Homes have taken on rising operating costs and a litany of new federal regulations. The increased funding for the Veterans Homes received consistent support during the five-month budget process from legislators and staff alike.
The budget also includes increases of $37,214 for the Ohio Veterans Bonus administrative fund and $10,000 for the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in the new biennium as well as an additional $217,438 spread across the state’s 13 recognized veteran service organizations for service work. Also of note, a $100,000 increase was added in during Senate deliberations, which will go directly to Save a Warrior foundation – an organization that addresses issues related to Post Traumatic Stress.
Ohio Women Veterans Conference Expands Reach
The 2019 Ohio Women Veterans Conference is in the books and earned lofty reviews from many of the nearly 500 attendees. The weekend event actually was a two-day opportunity for women of service as “Mix, Muster & Mingle” social activities were held on Friday, August 9 on the eve of the all-day conference at the Ohio Union on the campus of The Ohio State University.
Lt. Governor Jon Husted delivered welcoming remarks on the morning of August 10, offering words of gratitude to military members past and present. Ohio is home to about 67,000 women veterans and the biennial conference is one of the largest of its kind in the country.
The conference also included an inspirational workshop led by Rear Admiral (U.S. Coast Guard, ret.) June Ryan, a record number of breakout sessions, two separate resource expos, a display of veteran artwork, a relaxation and recovery room, networking opportunities, and closing comments from Director Ashenhurst.
The Friday agenda included guided tours of the Ohio Statehouse and the new National Veterans Memorial & Museum as well as quick jaunt to Huntington Park in downtown Columbus to take in the Columbus Clippers’ Triple-A baseball game.
The theme of this year’s conference was #SheServedToo – Strong. Healthy. Empowered.
Thanks to all who attended and helped organize this outstanding event.
Ohio Fairs Provide Setting to Honor our Heroes
ODVS has a love affair with fairs. Why? Well, it turns out that the Ohio State Fair and the various county fairs all across the state do a great job of attracting and honoring men and women of service.
This summer has been no different as Director Ashenhurst has been omnipresent at several fairs to pay tribute to the sacrifice and service of U.S. Armed Forces service members from Ohio communities.
On July 24, the Director was on hand as Gov. DeWine cut the ribbon on the Ohio State Fair, which has a rich history dating back more than 165 years. On Sunday, July 28, the Director and several members of the ODVS staff greeted patrons, provided giveaways and resources, and participated in the afternoon parade across the fairgrounds on Veterans & Military Day.
Throughout the summer, Director Ashenhurst also participated in the following county fair programs to honor veterans (and still more are on the docket):
- June 18 – The Director presented 50th Anniversary Commemorative lapel pins to Vietnam War-era veterans during a ceremony at the Pickaway County Fair in Circleville.
- July 22 – Director Ashenhurst served as a guest speaker during an evening program to honor local vets at the Shelby County Fair in Sidney.
- August 1 – Veterans Day at the Auglaize County Fair in Wapakoneta included a lengthy ceremony and drew a large crowd of vets and fairgoers who support the efforts of the military. The Director offered remarks.
- August 3 – While not technically aligned with the local fair, area officials and service officers helped organize a well-received Veterans Appreciation event at the Ashland County Airport, during which Director Ashenhurst served as keynote speaker and pinned nearly a hundred Vietnam War-era vets.
- August 21 – The Director delivered an address about the value of service and was able to visit with members of military families during the annual Veterans Memorial Parade at the Darke County Fair in Greenville.
- August 23 – The Allen County Veterans Service Commission annually organizes one of the most popular veteran-related programs of the summer – the Veterans Day luncheon at the Allen County Fair in Lima. Director Ashenhurst thanked all veterans for their service during her remarks and mingled with hundreds of attendees.
- August 29 – Ideal weather and several veterans (some from Indiana) descended upon the Van Wert County Fair for Veterans Day at the Fair. The Director served as guest speaker for the luncheon at the racetrack.
Veterans Pivotal in Reaching the Moon
July 20 was a special date for all space-loving Americans as it marked the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by NASA’s Apollo 11 voyage. During that fateful journey in 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the surface of the moon, becoming the first person to do so. During a live broadcast and while descending from the spacecraft, Armstrong, a former Navy lieutenant, famously said, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
That moment instantly made Armstrong an American icon and Ohioans have been especially proud ever since. A product of Wapakoneta in western Ohio, Armstrong forever will be linked to the moon landing and Apollo 11 crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Among his numerous achievements and recognitions was his induction into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 1993, a class that also includes NASA astronauts John Glenn and Jim Lovell. Armstrong passed away on Aug. 25, 2012 in Cincinnati at the age of 82. He remains one of Ohio’s most famous citizens and one of our most renowned Ohio vets. Not surprisingly, the exploits of Armstrong and Apollo 11 were celebrated throughout the summer and across Ohio, most notably a 50th anniversary event at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in his hometown.
Also on July 20, the Ohio History Connection paid tribute to the NASA program with an appreciation banquet that featured Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space and one of 16 NASA astronauts who are members of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. Gov. DeWine and Dir. Ashenhurst attended that event to help celebrate Ohio’s amazing contributions to the space program.
Workforce Team Presses on to Improve Vet Hiring
Our Veterans Workforce Team is finding new ground this summer. Workforce Manager Ryan Blackburn and Regional Consultants Dan Semsel and Tiffany Chavers recently attended the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) Conference in Washington, D.C. Ohio was the most represented state at the conference, which included an employer panel and several informational breakout sessions.
Also in August, Blackburn spoke at a State Best Practice panel at the National Veteran Workforce Development Conference (NVWDC) in Detroit. There, he updated the efforts of his workforce section, detailed the successes of the Central Ohio Veterans Consortium and CEO Challenge, met with leadership from Hiring Our Heroes, and gathered ideas that help create career pathways for transitioning veterans.
The Workforce Team continues to strengthen its connections with Ohio-based businesses (see infographic). Currently, OhioMeansJobs.com lists 4,237 Ohio businesses as Military-Friendly. The team also is reaching more hiring managers through online trainings and currently is working to implement a full training aimed specifically at military spouses.
The mission of the ODVS Workforce Team is to empower Ohio employers with knowledge of military skill and culture so they can better recognize the advantages of hiring veterans as well as more effectively recruit and retain former service members as part of their workforce. Their trainings are accredited by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).