Commission food pantry aids 300 veterans, families

SIDNEY — “As in previous years, our goal for 2020 was to serve as many veterans in Shelby County as possible. We want to connect veterans and their dependents to all the benefits they have earned, whether it be local, state or federal. The pandemic has hindered us being able to reach as many veterans as we would normally do in a year’s time, said Chris North, Shelby County Veterans Service Office executive director.

His report continues:

Unfortunately, our office suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of one of our long time Commissioners, Jon Johnson. Jon served on our Commission for over 11 years. He was a Vietnam Marine veteran who continued to serve by advocating for veterans not only in Sidney but throughout Ohio. Jon will continue to be greatly missed by all.

Judy Johnson joined our Commission Sept. 3, 2020. Judy is a retired Master Sargent of the United States Army. She is also the first female commissioner in the history of the Shelby County Veteran Service Commission. We are honored to have her on our board. She brings years of experience and is one of a kind.

Our in-office food pantry has served over 300 veterans and their dependents this year. We continue to receive gracious donations from our community. Individuals, families, schools, churches and businesses throughout Shelby County continue to support our efforts and our veterans. We are truly grateful for this community and its love for veterans.

Due to COVID we were unable to have as many outreach events as we have had in previous years and this is something that we have truly missed. The events that we were able to conduct include the following:

• For Memorial Day we joined forces with all the local veterans’ organizations and decorated graves with flowers and flags throughout Shelby County.

• In September Veteran Service Officer Theresa Manteuffel organized a “Silent Watch” that took place on the Court Square in Sidney. This Watch was a way to bring awareness to veteran suicide. There was a casket draped in an American flag and volunteers stood silent watch over the casket for 10 hours.

• In December we gave away 300 Christmas hams to the veterans of Shelby County. Hams were purchased at Davis Meats in Sidney.

Our overall traffic in 2020 decreased compared to previous years. We can only chalk this up to the pandemic. Below are some statics that will allow you to understand what we provide to our veterans and their dependents:

• We provided Emergency Financial Relief in the amount of over $87,000 to over 240 veterans, surviving spouses and dependent children. This relief consists of things such as: rent, utilities, food orders, mortgage payments, medical and etc. Our total amount of monies spent on relief and the number of veterans assisted in 2020 is down over 40% compared to 2019.

• Our Transportation Team transported over 499 veterans to appointments at VA Medical Centers throughout the state of Ohio. Our number of veterans transported dropped 30% compared to 2019.

• We signed up over 30 veterans for VA Healthcare.

• We helped over 65 surviving family members file for VA Grave Markers.

• We helped over 200 veterans file for disability claims with Veteran Affairs on injuries they sustained while serving.
• We provide space for a Vet Center counselor to meet with combat veterans on a weekly basis.

As I close, I would like you to help us connect with more veterans that we may serve. Join our Facebook page and share the information that we promote so that we can reach more veterans. When given the opportunity, please share our office with those that you meet.

In 2021 we are looking forward to serving more veterans and dependents.