By Haylee Pence
MIAMI VALLEY — “Our mission statement is connecting Veterans, their caregivers, and their families to the resources earned, empowering them to utilize those resources to transform their quality of life,” stated Director Valerie Mullikin, who helps run the Operation Veteran and Caregiver Support non-profit organization.
Mullikin is one of the founding members of the organization, which was officially a non-profit in February of 2020. Mullikin started the foundation after seeing that veterans and their caregivers needed support and help navigating the various resources that the government offers along with other local organizations.
Mullikin is a veteran caregiver to her husband for the past 28 years. Her husband is a Navy veteran with a total disability. Mullikin explained how she noticed that her husband was not supported well after being discharged and wanted to start an organization to help other veterans and their families.
The main purpose of Operation Veteran and Caregiver Support is to “source out resources” according to Mullikin by helping veterans and their caregivers find the necessary resources for what they need at that time. Mullikin provided an example of how the organization helped a veteran caregiver in Texas. The caregiver had been with her husband in the hospital, which was some distance from their home. Mullikin and her team were able to find a place for the caregiver to receive a meal and a shower, allowing the caregiver some reprieve from having to do all the searching herself.
“It was really inspiring being able to help someone that far away and take a little bit off her shoulders at that time,” Mullikin commented.
Mullikin has a background in medicine, where she can provide additional medical information, but cannot diagnose any health issues. Utilizing that background, Mullikin has been able to speak with veterans who are struggling with health issues and help them navigate the medical information they need to receive including suggesting specific tests to help get a better diagnosis from their doctors.
Operation Veteran and Caregiver Support also hosts a monthly “Muster and Mingle” event where veterans, their caregivers, spouses, and children can visit for a meal and listen to a guest speaker. The “Muster and Mingle” events started following a conversation with a veteran who was struggling with isolation during the pandemic. Mullikin and her team noticed a need that some veterans needed a place to socialize away from alcohol and religious beliefs, which are barriers for some veterans.
The next “Muster and Mingle” event is from 5-8 p.m. on June 29 at the Tipp Center, located at 855 N. Third St., Tipp City. The guest speaker is Logan County Vets to D.C. to discuss the opportunity veterans can get to travel to Washington D.C.
Operation Veteran and Caregiver Support is seeking volunteers to help with events and serving the community. They are also looking for funding opportunities to start a Meet and Mingle specifically for the veteran spouses and caregivers to meet others and relax.
Mullikin thanked the other board members for always helping and being passionate about veterans, along with the volunteers that currently help. Mullikin also thanked their supporters and various locations that have provided reduced rates or donating spaces for their events.
To the veterans in the community, Mullikin wants you to know, “you are not alone. We are here with compassion, empathy, and support. Even if you have a less than honorable discharge, we still have resources available and can help. You are loved and appreciated.”