The Highland County Veterans Honor Guard is seeking U.S. military veterans to join the volunteer organization.
Organized in 1992, the honor guard was established to help offer final military rites for area veterans who pass away. As a non-profit organization, they rely solely on donations from the community, and members sometimes use their own funds.
“It’s one of the most gratifying things that I’ve ever done,” said Highland County Veterans Honor Guard Commander Rudy Diskete. “I was in the fire service for 25 years, and I’ve done public service most of my life, but doing these funerals is really gratifying because you see the appreciation that the family gives you, and it’s really something that, until you experience it, is hard to understand.”
Diskete served in the U.S. Army from 1975 to 1978 and assumed the role of commander of the honor guard last month following the passing of the former commander, John Walker.
The HCVHG currently consists of more than 30 members who live in all different areas of Highland County and have served in all branches of the military.
Although they focus on providing final military rites for veterans who pass away in Highland County, they routinely travel many miles and many counties away to offer services in communities that do not have a similar organization or for residents being interred in an area they once lived.
They have already conducted more than 50 ceremonies this year and are on track to perform 90 or more by the end of the year.
In addition to providing ceremonial services for veterans and their families in funeral homes or cemeteries, they also perform honors in private home settings for veterans who do not have an open funeral service.
The honor guard provides a presence at Memorial Day services for several communities within Highland County as well as educational programs for students in several different school districts for Veterans Day.
Each summer, the honor guard hosts an annual golf tournament in honor of their more than 70 deceased members contributing all of the proceeds to Ohio Veterans Home – Georgetown. The tournament has raised more than $15,000 over the last five years.
“I’m trying to reach out to fellow veterans in the community that are retirement age that would have a little bit of extra time,” said Diskete.
Those interested in becoming a member of the Highland County Veterans Honor Guard can contact Commander Rudy Diskete at 937-509-0247 for further information or an application.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.