Veterans

BG breaks ground for new City Park Veterans Building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The sun was shining Tuesday as officials dug in with their ceremonial shovels, and as the crews in the background worked on City Park’s new Veterans Building. “What a perfect day to have an event like this,” said Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. “How long have we waited.” The mayor thanked Bowling Green citizens for passing the park levy, City Council for supporting the project, and the city forefathers for their wisdom in purchasing the City Park property in 1929. “They acquired all this precious ground here from the county,” for $25,000. Prior to becoming City Park, it was the county fairgrounds. “This is precious ground with a rich history,” said Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley. Construction crews work on new building. The mayor at the time of the land purchase was Alva Bachman, a World War I veteran. The building used for many community events was named the Veterans Building. “The name on this building means something to all of us,” Edwards said. For years, park board members discussed upgrades in the park as the Veterans Building continued to age. “It really grew legs while we worked on the last levy that voters overwhelming supported in 2016,” Park and Recreation Board Chairman Jeff Crawford said. Crawford reminded those present about the mantra adopted by the park and rec department last year – “Enhancing lives daily.” “I think it perfectly describes what we do in our community,” Crawford said. And the new building will help them continue to better lives. Design for building to replace the Veterans Building in City Park Otley said she has been asked if she will miss the park buildings that have been torn down – the old Veterans Building, the Girl Scout Building, and the Depot. She acknowledged that the buildings have been a part of many memories for Bowling Green residents. She recalled being interviewed for her job with the parks and recreation department more than 20 years ago in the Girl Scout Building. “They had served their purpose for a long time, but they were ready to retire,” Otley said. The new building, costing $3.75 million, will be opened in the first part of 2020 to create new memories for residents, she said. In addition to the new building, there will be more parking and turn lanes at the park entry to reduce…

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‘Gold Star’ banner leads to series of good deeds

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Air Force Major Phillip Donley was killed 46 years ago when a F4 Phantom fighter bomber crashed in Germany. Since then, a Gold Star banner has hung on his family’s front door in Bowling Green. For years, the banner on the Clough Street home has gone unnoticed by many. But on Veterans Day this past Saturday, a group of young men – some in their military uniforms – knocked on the door of Dave Donley and Karen Wood. “I was just sitting here reading,” on Saturday morning, Donley said. When he opened the door, there were 20 young men in a line on the sidewalk. The men, who are members of Phi Delta Theta fraternity at BGSU, had noticed the Gold Star on the front door. “We wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your family,” Donley said the members told him. The young men gave Donley, Phillip’s brother, a hand-written note and a gift card. “We have been living across the street from you for most of this year,” the letter stated. “As many of us have served or are serving, we could not help but notice your Gold Star flag on your front door. We aren’t all here for Memorial Day, but we are here on this day. Therefore, we would like to take a moment to honor you. While it may not be much, we hope you will take this gift and use it for whatever you may need.” Signed, “the gentlemen of Phi Delta Theta” listing names of five members and their military rank. “I’m standing there on my front porch, thinking ‘Wow.’ What a nice bunch of guys,” Donley said. “Quite frankly, we don’t always hear the best things out of fraternities on campus.” He called his wife, Karen Wood, to the door. “Oh, come on,” she said in disbelief. But the polite young men thanked the family for their sacrifice and then handed the couple a $72 gift card for Walmart. It didn’t take the couple long to decided how to put the gift card to the best use. “We decided to buy stuff for one of the local food pantries,” Donley said. “I know they do a lot of stuff for homeless veterans.” After consulting with the Bowling Green Christian Food Pantry, Donley and Wood loaded up a shopping cart at Walmart with…


Wood County focuses on serving its 12,895 veterans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation prepares to honor those who served on Saturday, the Wood County Veterans Assistance Center is working to serve the 12,895 veterans living in this county. Mary Hanna, a Vietnam War veteran and executive director of the county office, presented a program this week on veterans in Wood County. Though few in the room were veterans themselves, the majority were descendants of those who served. “Presentations like this are like preaching to the choir,” Hanna said. Over the years, the county has seen the age of its veterans shift. The current stats show the following numbers in each age group: 2,321 ages 17 to 44 3,901 ages 45 to 64 4,903 ages 65 to 84 1,770 ages 85 and older. The biggest share are Vietnam veterans (33 percent), followed by peacetime (23 percent), Persian Gulf (22 percent), World War II (12 percent) and Korean War (10 percent). Women veterans in Wood County total 850, accounting for 7 percent of the veterans overall. The number of veterans to die last year in the county was 111. Meanwhile, the number of new veterans registering here was 1,146. It’s that disparity that worries Hanna, since the federal government is eyeing cuts to the Veterans Administration’s budget. The federal stats put Wood County’s veteran population at 8,100 – but Hanna has proven that the number is actually 12,895. “We’re gaining veterans in this county,” and she wants to be able to give them the service they deserve, Hanna said. Last year, the Veterans Assistance Center had contact with 14,424 veterans, and several of their dependents. “Our services don’t only address the veterans, we have services for their dependents,” Hanna said. Nearly a quarter of the dependents are from WWII veterans. “Most of those WWII veterans now are in nursing homes or other care.” One of the main services offered by the county office is transportation to VA medical facilities for veterans with no other options. Last year, 310 transports were provided. “We pick them up at their door and take them to their appointment, then return them back home,” Hanna said. The office also provides emergency financial assistance. Last year, that financial help added up to $71,728. The biggest need was food (43 percent) followed by rent and mortgage assistance (25 percent), then such items as electric bills, burial expenses and car insurance. “Every…


Helping local vets who came home with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As many as 25 percent of the U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan returned home with traumatic brain injuries. Thirty percent came back with post traumatic stress disorder. In Wood County, it’s estimated that 60 veterans are now living with the effects of TBI or PTSD. Many of the traumatic brain injuries were caused by IEDs (improvised explosive devices) frequently used in recent wars. So when Mary Hanna, executive director of the Wood County Veterans Assistance Center, got a call offering her office a $10,000 grant to help treat those problems, she jumped at the chance. “It was very humbling. We will be the first county office to receive funds to do this,” Hanna said. The need is great, she said. “TBI and PTSD dramatically impacts their ability to get through daily functions,” at school, on the job, and with their families. Hanna contacted the Speech and Hearing Clinic at Bowling Green State University, and a partnership was formed to use the grant to help local veterans. “I’m getting ready to notify each veteran about these services,” which will be offered at no cost, Hanna said of the 12,895 veterans living in Wood County. The grant came from Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, founder of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, who has made it her mission to get better care for veterans returning home with the often invisible injuries of TBI and PTSD. In many cases, veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan went right from school to war, Gordon said. They never had to navigate in society before – and now some are faced with doing that with a TBI or PTSD. Services to treat such injuries by veterans organizations are still lagging, she said. “It’s not well diagnosed and treated in the civilian world. It’s like the new global epidemic,” she said. “It’s only in the last decade that we can see well inside the brain.” Some Vietnam veterans are just now realizing that they have been living with PTSD. “I don’t want that to happen with this generation,” Gordon said. “If you have a brain that has difficulty navigating,” normal challenges can seem impossible, she said. So Gordon decided she wanted to “bring brain treatment to them.” The services at the BGSU Speech and Hearing Clinic can help veterans with TBI and PTSD with the following issues: Memory issues. Understanding…