(WTRF) – Are we doing enough to help our nation’s veterans?

If you think the answer is no, then maybe your New Year’s resolution can be to add to the effort to help our former service members in 2022. 

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Kathy Gallowitz is a veteran with with ties to Ohio who created an organization that can help. From civilians to elected officials, she believes we all can be “veteran champions”. 

Before the age of 35 I’d lived in at least 20 different communities.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Kathy Gallowitz, Vanguard Veteran

Gallowitz grew up in a military family. Her father was a Navy pilot, so she’s moved around plenty. She also served herself for 29-years as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard and reserves. When it was time to establish a “home base” of her own after retiring from active duty, she moved to Lancaster, Ohio and realized how big the divide between military and civilian life truly is. 

Gallowitz recalls she always loved the community relations aspect of her career as a Public Affairs Officer in the Air National Guard. As part of that job, she created an outreach office in response to 9/11 to help military families while their loved ones were deployed.

Our citizens do appreciate their armed forces and they are willing to do more, but oftentimes just don’t know how.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Kathy Gallowitz, Vanguard Veteran

Rather than wait on someone else to fix the problem, Gallowitz started Vanguard Veteran in 2016 to create a community of “veteran champions”. 

If we don’t treat our service members and their families well once they leave military service then it can be harder to recruit people to actually join that military service.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Kathy Gallowitz, Vanguard Veteran

The goal of the organization is to help civilians support our military and their families, which can start with something small. 

You can go up to our Vietnam veterans and say ‘welcome home’. You can go up to our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and say ‘thank you for your service and sacrifice’.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Kathy Gallowitz, Vanguard Veteran

Beyond that simple “thank you for your service” needs to be action, like finding ways to connect with veterans and their families to make them feel welcome and included where we live. 

Go beyond ‘thank you for your service’. Be on the lookout for your neighbor who might be deployed. Mow their lawn. Take their spouse who may be left at home a meal. Ask if you can pick somethin gup from the grocery story. These are tangible, practical things.

If a neighbor can be a friend and listen and let the veteran take the conversation and the relationship where they will, when they will, on their own time, that’s kinda the critical piece of this.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Kathy Gallowitz, Vanguard Veteran

Gallowitz also advocates for creating military ministries inside places of worship as another way to engage with the veteran community.

Vanguard Veteran also supports businesses by encouraging them to take advantage of the talents of our retired military. 

This is an investment that will give the company dividends. Lost of research shows that veteran talent is more productive, less absent.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Kathy Gallowitz, Vanguard Veteran

Gallowitz calls herself a “veteran hiring concierge”, supporting hiring veterans in ways that strengthen both the workforce and community.

Participate in your local Veteran’s Day parade and go to Wreaths Across America or standups or stand downs. Those are very prevalent in communities. Start getting known as ‘veteran friendly’ and let people know that you’re’ wanting to hire. Be on the lookout in your community for someone wearing the uniform.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Kathy Gallowitz, Vanguard Veteran

Beyond private citizens and businesses, the third component of “veteran champions” are those in public office who Gallowitz said also have their part to play. She advocates those elected offiials can remind theri constituents to take care of veterans and get involved with evetns and causes.

Gallowitz explained it’s not just the government’s job to make sure the military part of our population has everything they need. So, she encourages everyone to start becoming champions for our veterans. 

It’s not something in my mind that it’s just the VA’s responsible. It’s not something that just the DOD is responsible. WE all have a stake in supporting those that defend our freedom.”) 

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Kathy Gallowitz, Vanguard Veteran

If you’d like to learn more about how to become a “veteran champion” or are a business who would like help from Vanguard Veteran, you can e-mail Kathy Gallowitz at kathy@vanguardveteran.com or visit vanguardveteran.com for more information.

Gallowitz also wrote a book highlighting “veteran champions” in Ohio. It’s called Beyond ‘Thank You for Your Service’.