VSO serves soldiers, wives, widows, children


On May 19, 1886, H.B. 316 of the 67th General Assembly passed and the Ohio General Assembly enacted legislation to establish in permanent law a soldiers’ relief commission in each county. Their purpose was to provide for the relief of indigent Union soldiers, sailors and marines, as well as the wives, widows and minor children of those who served the Union.

The act authorized a tax to be levied, not exceeding 0.1 mills upon the taxable property of the county, to create a fund for the stated purposes. The act also required the common pleas court judge to appoint three honorably discharged Union solders to serve on the commission.

Fast forward to 2024, and with several positive legal updates over the past 135-plus years to what was formerly known as the “Soldiers Relief Commission”, the state of Ohio still has a Veterans Service Commission in each of its 88 counties and they all still provide relief and assistance to honorably discharged veterans of the United States Armed Services, as well as to the spouses, widows and minor children of those who served, along with National Guard and Reservists on federal orders.

Highland County funding is based off of one-half mil of property taxes annually and is governed by the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 5901.

The Highland County Veterans Service Commission provides claim filing services, financial assistance, transportation to VA and VA-referred appointments, outreach services, information and outside referrals for U.S. military veterans. They are the nexus for all their federal, state and local benefits. Though most all provided services can be obtained no matter what county a veteran resides in, there are specific limitations of being a resident of the respective county to utilize transportation and emergency financial assistance. Staff members are also more than willing to speak with individuals who are interested in or have already committed to join the U.S. Armed Services, just to give advice to for what they might expect or to prepare for.

The Highland County Veterans Services wants to be known as an entity that is here for those before, during and upon being released from service to our country. The VSO highly encourages all discharged veterans to take their discharge paper(s) [DD-214 or equivalent] to the county recorder’s office and have it put on file — just as a safeguard for the veteran; it is not always a quick process for a veteran to get a certified copy of their discharge should they ever need one for applying for their benefits.

This year, the HCVSC welcomes a new board member Tara Campbell. She was appointed by Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss to serve a five-year term with the VSC. She is a Highland County native and a graduate of Edward Lee McClain High School who served in the United States Marine Corps and the U.S. Army Reserve.

Campbell joins currently seated members including board president Dwight Reynolds (AMVETS), vice president Gerold Wilkin (American Legion), P. Lee Harris (DAV) and Rick Wilkin (VFW).

The Highland County Veterans Service Office is staffed by director/VSO Tim Hazelwood, county veterans service officer; Cailin Hoskins, outreach coordinator/fiscal officer; Stephanie Roland and transportation/EFA coordinator Becky Williams, along with five fleet operators — Ken Lightner, Jim Edwards, Ed Bayless, Julie Myers and Robert Ledbetter.

If you would like to learn more about the Highland County Veterans Services, call 937-393-8686, or stop by the office located in the Hi-TEC Center at 1575 N. High St., Suite 400, Hillsboro.

Submitted by the Highland County Veterans Services.

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