Chapter 93 of the Disabled American Veterans organization held an award ceremony honoring its fallen and living members Wednesday evening at American Legion Post No. 105 in London.
According to their website, DAV is a nonprofit charity providing a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations as well as their families, helping more than one million veterans in meaningful, life-changing ways every year. Beyond providing rides for disabled veterans to attend medical appointments and assisting them in applying for benefits, the DAV also connects veterans with meaningful employment through hosting job fairs and ensuring they have the opportunity to participate in the American Dream that their sacrifices have made possible. The organization empowers our nation’s heroes and their families and ensures our nation keeps the promises made to them.
Officiating the event was chapter Senior Vice-Commander Terry L. Mackey. Following Mackey’s address to the assembled members and guests, the group recited the Pledge of Allegiance followed by Chaplain Preston E. Lowe leading in prayer.
London Mayor Patrick Closser was introduced as guest speaker. Closser thanked the members for their service. It was their self-sacrifice in the line of duty that affords this country the freedom that it enjoys today, he said.
After thanking the mayor for his kind words, Mackey introduced special speaker, Rodger I. Baker. Baker gave an impassioned speech on the current state of patriotism in the nation. Baker and everyone there were in agreement when he said it was not a good sign for our nation when so many of its citizens could not sing the lyrics to the National Anthem or respect the Pledge of Allegiance. The nation could use more veterans in positions of government, he argued. “They (people in government) don’t think like you and I do,” he said. Baker also said it was shameful the way Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned home from serving their country. “If you want to know the price of freedom,” Baker said, “visit a VA hospital.”
Baker also informed his audience of the importance of disabled veterans in finding companionship — one of the many benefits of belonging to the DAV. Veterans can be affected by a variety of ailments including depression and PTSD, or what was known as shell shock when he was in active duty. “The risk for suicide is as high as 22 percent for veterans,” he said. He cautioned the audience to not be dismissive of mental illness.
Baker strongly encouraged his listeners to actively seek out and use their benefits. “If we don’t use the VA we will lose it,” he said.
A moment of silence was observed for the chapter’s following fallen members: Carl Gray, Frank E. Cox, Lafayette Ater, Lawrence E. Bartoe, Melvin L. Carpenter, Richard Jenkins, John T. Powers, Garry A. Groves, and Russell G. Isaacs.
Receiving certificates and service year pinettes were awarded to the following DAV members: Rodger I. Baker (20), David L. Beekman (25), Elizabeth Blakeslee (25), Raymond L. Borders (45), Edward Cordial (35), David J. Grimsley (35), William T. Jones (30), Lonnie K. Lemaster (20), Preston E. Lowe (30), Terry L. Mackey (10), Jennifer L. Moore (5), Michael D. Porter (20), Kenneth E. Reed (25), Phillip D. Robinette (15), James Saunders (35), Michael J. Smith (5), William M. Stidham (40), and Charles N. Summers (50).
Special certificates of appreciation were awarded to Chapter Commander David L. Beekman, Dwana Goodan of the Madison County Veteran Services, Charles H. Summers, Dale Friend, London Mayor Patrick Closser, and Rodger I. Baker.
The ceremony was closed with the National Anthem and a prayer.
Reach Andrew Garrett at 740-852-1616, ext. 1616.
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