SIDNEY — “As in previous years, our goal for 2021 was to serve as many veterans and their dependents in Shelby County. 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 but we are thinking outside the box and making things happen,” said Chris North, Shelby County Veteran Service Commission executive director.
His report continues:
Our in-office food pantry is thriving and served the needs of over 350 veterans and their dependents this year. We continue to receive gracious donations from our community, individuals, families, schools, churches and businesses throughout Shelby County. 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.
During Veterans Day at the Shelby County Fair we were able to hold our annual Veterans Ceremony. This event always brings joy to not only our veterans and their families but to our team here at the Shelby County Veteran Services. Veterans who attended this event were provided a free meal donated by Fair Haven, a chance to win multiple prizes to include, Dayton Dragons tickets and Kroger gift cards.
Unfortunately, due to the weather in September we were not able to hold our “Silent Watch” event that helps bring awareness to veterans’ suicide. We did have a display in our front window throughout the month of September which recognized those who lost the battle within. We also had information readily available for those struggling and/or seeking help. We plan on having Silent Watch again in September 2022.
In November we were able to hold one of our Benefit Workshops where we provided a dinner, haircuts and benefit information at no charge to veterans and their families. These types of events are always well attended by our Shelby County Veterans. In 2022 we plan on expanding these workshops and offering more benefit information to our veterans and their dependents. We also plan to reach out to the surrounding villages in Shelby County to conduct events in their area.
In December we gave away 300 Christmas hams to the veterans of Shelby County. Hams were purchased at Davis Meats in Sidney. This is something we have done annually for 4 years. It gives us an opportunity to meet veterans and to have a chance to talk to them about benefits that they maybe eligible for.
Our overall traffic in 2021 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 $82,000.00 to over 200 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 2021 is comparable to the amount we provided in year 2020.
Our Transportation Team transported over 500 veterans to appointments at VA Medical Centers and local medical appointments throughout the state of Ohio. Our number of veterans transported in 2021 was similar to the amount we transported in 2020.
We signed up over 50 veterans for VA Healthcare.
We helped over 60 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.
Our team partnered with Cargill Cares to provide monies to a disabled veteran for a new roof that was leaking and falling in. Cargill was generous enough to donate the amount of money needed to make this veteran home, livable. We are very grateful for Cargill and the relationship we have built with them to help veterans in need.
Shelby County Deer Hunters graciously provided Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to over 20 veteran families in need. This is something that they have done for several years now. This brings some tears and smiles from these families and we are so thankful for the Shelby County Deer Hunters organization.
There have also been so many others that have either adopted a family for Christmas, provided meals and so much more to our veterans in need not only during the holidays but throughout the entire year also.
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 2022 we are looking forward to serving more veterans and dependents.