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One county office holder is anticipating what he may do when he retires. However, he anticipates working right up to the last minute for those he serves.
Auglaize County Veteranâ€™s Service Commission Director Doug Howard maintained his work pace at the office on Tuesday as the minutes tick down to his last at 4:30 p.m Friday.
â€śThey are working me right up to the end,â€ť Howard said with a little chuckle.
Howard, who has served eight years as director at the Veteranâ€™s Service Commission, said he could not imagine a more rewarding job.
â€śI couldnâ€™t even begin to tell you the stories I have heard,â€ť Howard said. â€śThere are some people in this county that have been through things that I donâ€™t think people realize. It is the most rewarding job I could have. World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the boys over there now. They have a story to tell.â€ť
Howard was a Vietnam veteran himself, serving in the Navy and working on RVAH-13 Naval planes, which carried only cameras and did not have weapons. He said that the RVAH-13 was the plane most lost during the Vietnam War.
He also said his experience in the service has helped him communicate with other veterans that otherwise did not tell their stories and open up. The fact that they opened up helped him do his job in getting them the benefits they deserved.
â€śIt is so rewarding when they finally come in,â€ť Howard said. â€śI feel I earned the respect of my veteran brothers in Auglaize County. They have opened up to me, and it makes it easier for me to help them.
â€śI was involved and the things I did not know I learned about,â€ť he said. â€śWhen I knew what they were talking about it broke the ice. I could talk their talk.â€ť
Howard said veterans are a part of most peopleâ€™s lives, and he felt that schools are not teaching lessons on war to the degree they should be.
â€śThe text books do not tell the stories like they used to,â€ť Howard said. â€śEveryone needs to hear the stories and be sharing the stories. The history books just donâ€™t tell the stories.â€ť
Howard said a drift to liberalism has been the main culprit.
â€śThere are too many liberals in our country,â€ť Howard said. â€śIt has had a big impact.â€ť
He said he hoped he has left a legacy on what it takes to help out veterans so they can get what they need and deserve.
â€śSome of these guys were fighting in freezing weather. Some were fighting in the jungle fighting snakes and leeches,â€ť Howard said.
â€śI wasnâ€™t in a position where I needed this job like some people,â€ť Howard said. â€śI took this job simply because I wanted to. I had to put up with a lot of battles and I told the VA (Veterans Administration) when they werenâ€™t doing their job. There are too many times that people get in jobs like this and they worry about keeping their jobs.â€ť
Howard said he was not in fear of his job, and he went to bat for every veteran that came in.
â€śIf I lost my job because I am doing my job, then something would have been wrong,â€ť Howard said. â€śAnything I could possibly get them they deserved.â€ť
He noted what he regretted most was seeing past heroes put in their final resting place.
â€śI had to put a lot of brother veterans to rest,â€ť he said. â€śSome of them were because of factors like Agent Orange and complications they had due to that. Even though sometimes they had served only a short time in the service.â€ť
A retirement party is planned for 5-8 p.m. Jan. 6 at the St. Marys VFW in Howardâ€™s honor.
As for the future, he does not have any immediate plans.
â€śI donâ€™t know,â€ť Howard said. â€śI may just go to Florida for a couple months.â€ť