State Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro) will be the guest speaker when the Highland County Senior Citizens Centers hosts its annual Veterans Day Dinner and Program on Friday, Nov. 1.
The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and is free to all veterans. There is a $7 admission fee for anyone else that would like to attend.
Even though today he serves as state representative from Ohio’s 91st House District, Wilkin told The Times-Gazette that he originally planned to serve his country in the Marine Corp.
A 1988 graduate of Lynchburg-Clay High School, Wilkin said he planned to enlist early, but a fateful trip to Florida during spring break in his senior year changed all that.
“I wasn’t acting crazy and partying and all that, but I was a pretty good water skier,” he recalled. “I was down there at a ski school to learn how to come up backwards barefooted.”
He said that while at the school he “took a fluke bad fall and broke my neck in two places,” breaking the fifth and seventh cervical vertebrae in his neck, destroying his dream of being a Marine helicopter pilot.
“I did find out that if you don’t want to be bothered by a recruiter, if that’s your desire,” he said, “just tell them you had a neck or back injury and the metal’s not coming out, and once they heard that, I never heard from them again.”
The program will include a special flag presentation from the Highland County Veterans Honor Guard.
“We invite all our veterans to come out so we can show them our appreciation,” said Mechell Frost, senior center executive director. “We’ll have dinner and a program, you don’t have to be a veteran to attend, but it’s a way for the community to show our veterans how much we appreciate their service.”
All proceeds will be donated to the Hillsboro VFW Post 9094 Veterans Relief Fund to assist Highland County veterans in need.
Hillsboro VFW Post Commander Rick Wilkin, Vietnam War veteran, said the relief fund is used for a variety of needs.
“When there is a veteran in need, we help them out,” he said. “Let’s say we have a veteran who is new to the area and visits the local Veterans Service Office, but for some reason because of their guidelines, they’re not able to help, so they’ll give us a call and through the relief fund, we’ll try to help them out.”
He said typically the relief fund is used to help a veteran with a month’s rent or house payment, assistance with a doctor or utility bill, or to provide overnight accommodations at a local motel.
One other benefit derived from the local relief fund is when a member of the post has an overnight stay in a hospital.
“When we have a member that had to stay overnight at the hospital, we give them $100 just to help out,” he said. “We only do that once a year for our local members, but we figure with the relief fund, if you’re laid up in the hospital for any length of time, every little bit helps.”
LaRosa’s is donating the meal for the senior center program, which includes a spaghetti dinner with salad and breadsticks, homemade pies from Batter-Up Bakery, and ice cream courtesy of UDF and The Laurels of Hillsboro.
She said she would like to thank Hospice of Hope, Classic Real Estate, Murray-Fettro Funeral Home and Highland Auto Service for sponsoring the event, and the Hillsboro Elks Lodge for their donation of gift cards to give to the veterans.
Reservations should be made by calling the senior center at 937-393-4745.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.