SIDNEY — The Veteran Services Team continued their success in 2019 by implementing new outreach strategies to reach the county’s veterans. The office, which is located at 133 S. Ohio Avenue in downtown Sidney, has a full-time staff that is available to assist with a multitude of services for veterans. That staff consists of Executive Director Chris North and Veteran Service Officers Theresa Manteuffel and Sherrye Lamma, as well as the transportation team of Jim Neilan, James “Mac” McGee, Steve Wearly, Bob Reisinger and Don Miller. In addition to those team members, the Shelby County Veterans Commission consists of Board President Zack Bosslet, Vice President Richard Snider, Secretary Ron Leininger and Commissioners Thomas Kinninger and Jon Johnson.
North’s report continues:
Our success is measured in lives touched within our veteran community. As in previous years, our goal is to serve as many veterans in Shelby County as possible. Our trained Service Officers assist in filing claims with the VA, securing health care benefits, and ensuring our county’s veterans are receiving the benefits and care that they deserve. As well, we work every day to combat hunger, homelessness, and financial stress for those in need.
In order to garner awareness of our services, this year we increased our presence with internet advertising, television commercials, and social media. All of which direct interested parties to our brand new website that was just launched this year, www.shelbycountyveterans.org . This increase in advertising has allowed us to see veterans in our office that have never been here before or have never looked into the benefits for which they may be eligible.
In addition to our advertising efforts, 2019 was another busy year for in-community outreach events to include the following:
• In April, Veteran Service Officer Theresa Manteuffel attended The Sidney Walmart 30th Anniversary celebration and provided benefit material and information on our office and its services.
• During June, Commissioner Ron Leininger and Director Chris North joined the Elder Abuse Awareness Day Event in which they made benefit information available to those who inquired about our services.
• For Memorial Day we joined forces with all the local veterans’ organizations and decorated graves with flowers and flags throughout Shelby County.
• In August we partnered with local veterans’ organizations, and some generous local sponsors, to provide an event called “Veterans and Family Appreciation Day” held at Vandemark Farms in Sidney. At this event veterans and their families were provided with a free meal and a chance to win some amazing door prizes. They could also play putt-putt golf, fish, play cornhole and games of chance. Over 400 individuals joined us at this event.
• 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 12 hours.
• In December we had a Veterans Benefit Workshop at the Sidney Veterans Center. We provided a free meal, veterans benefit information and free haircuts to over 200 individuals. We also presented those in attendance with a voucher for a free Christmas ham. The remaining vouchers were given away to veterans who couldn’t attend the event. We gave away 300 Christmas hams to the veterans of Shelby County.
Our greatest and most beneficial project that we accomplished in 2019 was the opening of our Veteran Food Pantry in our office downtown. We rolled this out in the month of October and the support that we have had from the community is so amazing! Ninty-eight percent of the stock we have was provided by the community. Since we opened the doors we have provided 178 individuals to include: veterans, surviving spouses and dependent children with food and toiletry items.
Here are some 2019 statistics that will allow you to understand what we provide to our veterans:
• We provided Emergency Financial Relief in the amount of over $152,000 to over 400 eligible veterans, surviving spouses and dependent children. This relief consists of things like: rent, utilities, food orders, mortgage, medical and etc.
• Our Transportation Team transported over 700 veterans to appointments at VA Medical Centers throughout the state of Ohio free of charge.
• We signed up over 70 veterans for VA Healthcare.
• We helped over 60 surviving family members file for VA Grave Markers.
• We assisted 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.
• We also continue to provide numerous veterans with budget counseling classes right here in the office at no cost to them.
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, or call us at 937-498-7282
We looking forward to serving more veterans and their families than we ever have in the Year 2020.