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A veteran-to-veteran storytelling project designed to let Miami Valley veterans describe their own experiences, in their own words with a special focus on stories of re-entry into civilian life.

Veterans' Champions: Cassie Barlow

Cassie Barlow

MyVeteran Community is a national effort to ensure that veterans and their families know about, and have access to, the resources they need to succeed during and after service. Air Force veteran Cassie Barlow leads the local division which is called Greater Miami Valley MyVeteran Community. Barlow tells her friend Marilyn McCauley why she became involved in MyVeteran Community and why it’s important to attract veterans to the area.


Cassie Barlow: When I retired in 2014, I remember sitting through the transition assistance program kind of with my eyes glazed over. It kind of convinced me over time that, you know, I needed to help other people who were coming behind me, going through the exact same thing I was going through, people needed help with the transition to being a civilian outside the fence line and not wearing the uniform anymore.

And so now we have, you know, in the Greater Miami Valley, we have the Greater Miami Valley MyVeteran Community and all of the organizations that are associated with it to try to serve our veteran community. Realistically, let's face it, you know, correct me if I'm wrong here in Marilyn, but it's really about attracting more veterans to our community. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to attract veterans for a multitude of reasons. But one of the reasons is that, you know, we're in a big talent war right now and we need veterans here working in our community and in our state.

You know, there are a ready-trained asset that have in-demand skill sets. By the time they are in the military a few years, they've got great experiences that they bring to the table. So, you know, your aircraft maintainer is also a program manager and is also a resource advisor and has a plethora of skill sets that translate to really any career in the civilian sector. And, you know, military have to be convinced of that because they don't believe that, they don't understand that they have this whole group of skill sets that they bring with them. So, for me, that's the most important one, is you know, having that ready trained talent there.

But I would also say that, you know, military are a great resource to have in your community because they like to give back to the community. So, you know, you also have not just a ready to go talent for everyday business, but you have a ready to go talent for all of the volunteerism type stuff that happens in a community. You know, Little League coaches and Girl Scouts and Boy Scout leaders, I mean, stuff you don't get paid for, but a community really needs and military love to do those types of things. And that doesn't go away when they become veterans.

We're competing with other states around the nation to attract veterans. I know our legislature has been really busy trying to figure out what are the things that that we could legislate, like certifications and licensure. If someone drove a truck in the Army or the Air Force or the Marines, what can we do to help them be able to drive a truck on the outside when they get out instead of having to go through a big, long process to get there. And there's many, many other certifications and licensors that are like that that if you've done something in the military for 10 or 15 years. Obviously, you don't need a license to show that you know how to do it, you've got experience. So, you know that I know that's something that Ohio has worked on in addition to in-state tuition, no taxation on retirement benefits, and I can go on and on. There's still more to do but those types of things are really important when veterans are looking for a place to live. Because at the end of the day, that's really what the goal is: they want to be able to fit in and join a new team.

Veterans Voices is produced at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices by Will Davis and Tony Holloway, with support from Seth Gordon Ph.D. at the Wright State Veteran and Military Center. Financial support comes from Wright-Patt Credit Union.

Will Davis is a Community Voices producer and was a ComVox instructor for many years. He is now an instructor at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. Will is the producer of their "PodLab", a podcast producer in his own right. He served as project manager.
Tony Holloway is a self-taught radio producer and has been contributing his “Mixtape Stories” to WYSO since 2017. He has since become an editor for the Center of Community Voices and for a new season of "Veterans' Voices" called "Veteran Champions". He served as the Project Coordinator, facilitating conversations with all the participants.
Seth Gordon, Ph.D., is the director of the Veteran and Military Center at Wright State University and a Community Voices producer. Seth has worked with hundreds of student veterans through the VMC and works with other veteran support organizations in the region. He helped us define the direction of the current series and took part in three interviews.