Veterans Conference celebrates service and sacrifice, honors member heroes

Posted Nov. 7, 2023 by

This past weekend, OCSEA activists came together at Mohican State Park to honor and celebrate their member veterans at the annual OCSEA Veterans Committee Conference. This included the presentation of OCSEA's Veteran and Veteran Supporter of the Year awards. It was a great weekend filled with camaraderie among veterans and supporters, as well as thoughtful speakers and tributes to veterans everywhere, past and present. See photos from the event.

The conference kicked off with the DR&C Honor Guard’s Presentation of Colors, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Ohio Veterans Home union activist, Jeff Condo (Marines), the National Anthem by Chelsea Yeager of Lorain Chapter 4720, and the Missing Man Ceremony led by Mansfield Corrections activist, Carl VanBibber (Army). The mayor of Ashland, Matt Miller welcomed attendees with an ode to veterans: “We love our veterans and we always will. Because of what they’ve done, you’re able to enjoy the life you’re living today,” he said.

President Chris Mabe (Army) talked about the upcoming bargaining season and highlighted the impact of OCSEA members spreading the word about the importance of union solidarity. “[Labor] lifts all boats,” Mabe said. “As we’ve seen what happened with the UAW, with the Screenwriters Guild, citizens around this nation want unions, they want negotiated contracts, they want to be a part of the middle class, and that’s what we do,” emphasized Mabe.

Jared Smith, a past president of the Ohio State Association of Veterans Service Commission and 2019 OCSEA Veteran of the Year award winner, spoke next about the themes of leadership, teamwork, the principle of service before self, and the idea of being a part of something bigger than ourselves. Assistant Director Sean McCarthy of the Dept. of Veteran Services emphasized the value of state employees in our state-run Veterans Homes.

The conference closed with the presentation of the Veteran Supporter of the Year Award, and the Veteran of the Year Award by President Mabe and Veterans Committee Chair Doug Korba (Navy).

The OCSEA Veterans Supporter of the Year Award winner was William “Nick” Hill of Chapter 3510. “Veterans are proud of their service and sometimes too proud to ask for help. Being approachable is key in getting a conversation started, and it usually ends with them learning more about benefits and services available to them. They are more accepting of a helping hand from a fellow veteran that understands their struggles,” said Hill, who works as a Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist for the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services.

The OCSEA Veteran of the Year Award was presented posthumously to David Maldonado of Chapter 4720. David recently passed away. He was a Correction Officer at Lorain Correctional Institution for 27 years and had served in the Army for 13 years. With heavy hearts, David's brothers and sisters of Chapter 4720 accepted the award on his behalf. He will never be forgotten, they said.

This Veterans Day Weekend, we are tremendously thankful to all members who have served and who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We encourage every OCSEA member to find a way to honor and celebrate the sacrifices of those veterans in their lives, communities and those who are no longer with us. We are honored to stand on this sacred land that so many men and women in service have fought hard to protect!

Click the graphic below to show your support for our veterans this Veterans Day Weekend:1