COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Veterans Services has embarked on trips to county fairs all across the state for the second straight summer as a way to connect with as many former military members as possible and to honor their service.
Last year, Director Chip Tansill participated in military and veteran-themed events at eight county fairs. This year, there are plans to attend at several more veteran programs.
To date, the department has helped to honor former service members at fairs in Paulding, Clermont, Shelby, Lake, Preble and Union counties and will do the same at the Darke County Fair and the Allen County Fair later this month.
“We find that these events are an ideal way to identify veterans in Ohio, to see their impact on their community and to show gratitude for all they have done in the military and beyond,” Tansill said. “These are wonderful events that add a sense of history and accomplishment to the fair experience. Plus, I really enjoy sitting down with these folks and their families to hear their stories and let them know Ohio cares about them.”
The department also has a regular presence at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. ODVS holds a booth in the Bricker Building to share department initiatives and point veterans from all across the state to well-earned benefits and resources, all of which are featured online at OhioVets.gov. July 29 was Veterans & Military Day at the Ohio State Fair, which drew thousands of men and women of service.
At the state fair, ODVS representatives recognized the service of Vietnam-era (1964-75) veterans from all branches of service by presenting them with a 50th anniversary commemorative lapel pin. Director Tansill is doing the honors at the county fairs, often pinning dozens of vets from that era.
Fairs across the state regularly have put time and energy into showing military appreciation, providing special days and events that honor veterans. Former service members, military families, supportive community members and distinguished guests such as local legislators are often there to show support. Ohio currently has nearly 800,000 veterans, ranking the state sixth nationally in terms of vet population.
The following is a synopsis of the department’s fair outreach so far this summer:
June 14, Paulding County Fair (Paulding)
As part of Veterans Appreciation Day, VFW Post 587 sponsored its annual ham and bean dinner at the Senior Pavilion on the fairgrounds as a way to show gratitude to the men and women in the area who served in the armed forces. Director Tansill spoke to the group and met with each and every veteran on hand. He also pinned all Vietnam-era vets. Appropriately, the program was held on Flag Day.
July 22, Clermont County (Owensville)
During a memorable evening program, the director thanked all veterans and military families in attendance. The event paid special tribute to those who served in the Korean War more than 60 years ago.
July 23, Shelby County Fair (Sidney)
Chris North, executive director of the Shelby County Veterans Service Commission, put together an evening event in conjunction with Veterans Day at the fair. Director Tansill spoke to a large gathering at the free entertainment tent.
July 25, Lake County Fair (Painesville)
The director served as keynote speaker and joined a pair of state legislators (Sen. John Eklund and Rep. Ron Young) and co-emcees (Lake CVSO Executive Director Jon Warmeling and local radio personality Ray Somich) in offering remarks and praising the community’s show of gratitude toward men and women of service.
July 28, Preble County Fair (Eaton)
Preble is one of the smaller of Ohio’s 88 counties but still is home to more than 3,000 veterans. Director Tansill thanked the community for its support of veterans and implored them to nominate a local resident for the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, which is yet to induct someone from the county.
July 28, Union County Fair (Marysville)
Veterans of all eras and their guests gained free admission to the fair and convened in the pavilion for a complimentary appreciation dinner. The director pinned about 20 Vietnam veterans and asked service members about their experiences for more than an hour.