Veterans Honored By Farm Bureau
The Wetzel County Farm Bureau held a special day, in honor of veterans near and far, on Nov. 18. The events were headquartered at the Pine Grove Sportsman’s Club, located on Shenango Road.
A dreary and wet forecast cancelled a planned walk and trail ride; however, attendees of the event still had the opportunity to engage in conversation and listen to music.
The day’s events concluded with a soup luncheon, as well as remarks from distinguished speakers – USMC Sgt. Kevin Siers, USMC Ret. Lt. Col. and West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt, and US Army 1st Sgt. Ret. Kim Shatney.
Kent Leonhardt spoke on the divisiveness among people today, from “both sides.” Yet, he inferenced that there have always been times of trouble. In 1774, “The world was a mess, but we came through it… In 1860, the country was a mess… In 1917, the world was a mess…” Yet, “We came through it.”
“If we stick to the Constitution we will be okay,” Leonhardt said, further encouraging people to vote.
Leonhardt said that as “Commissioner of Agriculture, I work for you.” He noted that West Virginia, unlike some other states, allows its citizens to elect the commissioner of agriculture.
“It is your department,” Leonhardt said.
Leonhardt said the state is improving and growing, in terms of its agricultural department. He said the funding, for the department, will “be in the black.” Leonhardt would like to see a laboratory set up in the state, so that state agricultural testing can be conducted at home, rather than other states.
“I would like to get a lab set up here, and have folks come here,” Leonhardt said.
Leonhardt noted that he is proud of his title of veteran. He served in the United States Marine Corps for 20 years and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1996. As Lieutenant Colonel, Leonhardt served on Joint Staffs and received personal decorations, including: Legion of Merit, Combat Action Ribbon, 8 other personal decorations.
Kimberly Shatney said that, while preparing for her remarks that day, she tried to think of her audience and what she would say. She said veterans are “as diverse as America is,” and that our nation’s veterans are every color, shape, and size.
“I’m from tiny Pine Grove,” she said, explaining how she ended up serving in White House Communications.
Shatney said that, during her work, she traveled with all male teams.
“I doubly had to prove myself to be accepted,” she explained, adding how there was “a lot of sexual harassment.”
Shatney persevered. She explained how she became the first female to announce a president in a public forum. She did this twice, announcing President Ronald Reagan.
“Those are two of the most awesome comments in my life,” she said.
Shatney encouraged young people to “travel and see the world,” and then “to come back home.”
Kevin Siers began his remarks by describing how he joined the Marines.
He said he had a business that wasn’t going well. One day, “God put me in the parking lot of a recruiting center.”
Siers said he was the “old guy in boot camp.” Yet, it made the training easier for Siers, as there were life lessons that he already knew.
Siers also discussed his time overseas. He said in combat he “saw stuff that no human being ought to see.”
During his service, Siers crushed his foot and came home on crutches. However he climbed up the military ladder quickly, noting that he “pinned on E5 in 27 months.”
Siers described a uncertain time when he was selected to choose five fellow Marines for a trip to Haiti. During this time, there were American citizens that were not being allowed to board a plane in Haiti. However, the trip did not pan out as the Americans were allowed to leave once word arrived at that the Marines were involved.
Though he planned on serving 20 years, the uncertainty of military life made Siers decide to come home to West Virginia. After his service in the military, Siers served as a fireman.
Through his remarks, Siers expressed the importance of treating PTSD. He said PTSD can affect anyone in the military, from the payroll clerk and on up the ladder.
“We have to be careful not to judge these people. It is not a weakness,” Siers said of PTSD.
He said, during fire service, he learned that the event that kicks off the PTSD may not be what the person is going through at the time. Siers encouraged veterans to talk to one another, or “whoever you need to talk to.”
He also encouraged everyday citizens to help out families of servicemen and women. “Lend a hand, lend an ear to the families back here,” he said.
Robyn Yeager thanked all veterans in attendance for their service. She noted that there are men and women as young as 17, 18, who sign to join the military, willing to give up their lives.
Yeager said we all have our freedoms because of these folks, and because of our veterans.
“We can’t say thank you enough,” she said, further stressing the importance of teaching children the history of our country, and the history of the men and women that have fought for it.
Besides homemade vegetable soup, guests also enjoyed homemade cake for dessert.
Yeager also showcased several handcrafted, wooden plaques she has created. Each plaque is marked with the name of a veteran. Yeager has dedicated a trail, on her family’s land, to veterans. She plans on marking the trail with the wooden plaques.