Its members travel to 70 to 75 veterans’ funeral each year and a multitude of other events. But the van that carries the Highland County Veterans Honor Guard where it needs to go is wearing out, and the organization is asking the public to help it purchase a new bus.
John Walker, commander of the honor guard, said it receives no federal or state funding and relies solely on donations to fund its efforts. Sometimes, he said, the members even use their own money.
“We had money saved, but we don’t quite have enough,” Walker said. “We have to finance it, and we’re wondering if we can get the good people around here to help us out.”
Walker said the current van is a 1996 model with more than 100,000 miles.
“We just had it worked on with the gracious help of Barrera’s Garage in New Market. He (Dick Barrera) has helped us out many times and he won’t take any money,” Walker said. “We have sent him money cards, and he sends them, or a check, back. He just won’t take any money for it. But we did give him a plaque the other day and I think he appreciated that.”
Walker said the honor guard voted Wednesday to purchase a new vehicle. He said they’re hoping to buy a 2020 15-passenger bus, and that it would take four to six months before it’s delivered.
The honor guard is made up of veterans from all branches of military service with appropriate discharge papers. Walker said there are currently about 30 members, but only around a dozen are active. Many are not able to be active due to illness, age and work schedules.
Walker said those that are active try accommodate anyone who asks for their presence at a funeral or other event.
“We go out of the county if we’re asked, and sometimes we cover for Ross or Adams counties, and they do the same for us if we have two or three funerals the same day,” Walker said. “We go wherever we’re asked really, if it doesn’t contradict with the Highland County end of it. We take care of Highland County first.”
He said any veteran interested in becoming part of the honor guard can attend one of its monthly meetings, held at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month at Hillsboro VFW Post 9094.
“We do what we do to give respect to our deceased comrades and their families,” Walker said. “A lot of them are tickled to death that we are there, and it makes our day to do something worthwhile.”
Anyone interested in making a donation can send it to: Highland County Veterans Honor Guard, P.O. Box 505, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.
For more information, stop in at a meeting or call Walker at 937-364-2632.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.