Veteran of the Year supports Lakota students

By DENISE G. CALLAHAN | Dayton Daily News | Published: November 17, 2018

OHIO -- (Tribune News Service) -- Part of the reason West Chester Twp. veteran Jerry Nelson was chosen as one of Butler County's two Veterans of the Year was his work with Lakota students on several programs the American Legion provides, some of which include college scholarships.

The Butler County Veterans Service Commission picked Nelson and WWII prisoner of war Marvin Sizemore as their top veterans this year.

Nelson enlisted in the Army in 1966 -- after he graduated from Ohio State University -- and spent two years training to be a combat medic and then as a biological scientist, serving stateside during the Vietnam War at three different locations.

He was the founding commander of the West Chester American Legion Post 681, when it was reconstituted several years ago. Ever since, he has worked as a service officer, helping veterans and their families get benefits and has been active with post's youth programs.

"Jerry has always been an advocate for veterans and has assisted many in obtaining their benefits through the VA, reissuing of awards and ribbons, enlisting them to join the Legion to help them continue their service to their country and just being an ear to listen when a fellow veteran needs someone to talk to," Post Commander Paul Kreiner wrote in the nomination letter.

Nelson tells the Journal-News there are three main programs supported by his post that he has helped Lakota students work on:

--American government testing program -- winners get a five-day trip to Washington D.C. and Gettysburg -- several students have made the trip.

--Oratorical contest on the U.S. Constitution -- national winners get $18,000, $16,000 and $14,000 college scholarships for first through third place respectively.

--The Boys State and Girls State summer leadership and citizenship programs -- the post could only afford to sponsor one student 10 years ago, this year they sent 11 boys and 10 girls. So far three boys and one girl from Lakota were selected to go to the national level.

"I'm very happy to work with the students here in the Lakota system," Nelson said. "Because they are good, they're conscientious, they're honorable people, it's a pleasure to work with them."

Lakota Superintendent Matthew Miller said Nelson hasn't just been involved helping the students with the Post programs but also recently supported the first-ever Military Commitment Ceremony. The school district in April recognized 33 seniors who were committed to entering either a military academy or branch of service after graduation.

"Jerry Nelson has been a terrific partner in our schools," Miller said. "For many years, he's been a great advocate for the American Legion's statewide government test that we encourage students to take. His post has always been very supportive of the various Veteran's Day programs we organize in the schools."

Nelson and his wife, Sharon, were married 49 years ago and have lived in the township for 47 years. They have four children and 17 grandchildren. He spent 20 years as a sales manager in the radiology and ultrasound division for Acuson/Siemans.
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