Many attended Veteran’s Day activities at the fair on Thursday. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Many attended Veteran’s Day activities at the fair on Thursday. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Barry Johns, director of the Van Wert County Office of Veterans Services, said that at one point on Thursday, over 200 veterans and spouses were present at this year’s Veterans Services Day at the Van Wert County Fair.

Johns said that it was a great improvement to turn the “Chicken Shack” into a Veterans Service building for the fair. The renovated building is now known as the Arnold C. Baker Veteran Service Center.

At lunch, Tom Gibson’s Barbecue provided lunch while the traditional ham and beans meal was available at the end of the day.

“It was a very fulfilling day,” said Johns. “The weather was just perfect. I’m sure that had something to do with the crowd.”

At noon veterans heard from Major Deborah Ashenhurst, Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. Prior to that, Ashenhurst retired from the United States Army, served as the Senior Vice President of military strategy of R2 Associates.

Johns pointed out that Ashenhurst retired from the U.S. Army and the National Guard in 2015 after more than 37 years of service. In that time, she served at all levels of command.

In 2011, Ohio Governor John Kasich appointed Ashenhurst to the cabinet-level of Adjutant General of the State of Ohio. During that time, she commanded 17,000 service members of the Ohio National Guard, the Ohio Naval Militia and the Ohio Military Reserve. Her career culminated by serving as a special assistant to the Vice Chief, National Guard Bureau in Washington.

Ashenhurst majored in discussing business at the Office of Veteran Affairs.

Late in the afternoon, Ed Ball, retired from the Military Veterans Advocacy, Inc. and board member with the Director of Research, Blue Water Navy Association, discussed his career on-board an aircraft carrier, fast frigate guided-missile cruiser.

Ball served on a Ballistic Submarine, Landing Amphibious Dock Ship and Communications Ship as Leading Chief Petty Officer for Commander Third Fleet on-board USS Coronado AGF-11.

These days Ball is retired in Sidney with his family where he enjoys volunteering his time as Director of Research for Blue Water Navy Association and Military Veterans Advocacy, instrumental in placing key factual information before the Federal Court during Procopio vs. Wilkie to restore VA benefits to our Blue Water Navy Veterans.

In addition, Ball challenged veterans who had been involved with industrial chemicals and how to make their claims.