Operation Veteran Caregiver Support here to help


By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]

PIQUA — Operation Veteran Caregiver Support, a nonprofit organization that serves the Miami Valley and specializes in connecting veterans and their caregivers to resources and provide fellowship, held a ribbon cutting celebrating its office located at 987 E. Ash St., Piqua, on Thursday, Nov. 9.

Director Valerie Mullikin of Operation Veteran and Caregiver Support, explained to the group gathered in the organization’s new office about its background, “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.”

Operation Veteran and Caregiver Support began when a group set out to help veterans with damages caused to their homes from the May 2019 tornadoes. It evolved to become much more and a compliment to the work area Veterans Associations do to help veterans, Tamara Hegi, Operation Veteran and Caregiver Support director of development, told Miami Valley Today. Operation Veteran and Caregiver Support officially became a non-profit in February of 2020.

The main purpose of Operation Veteran and Caregiver Support is to help direct veterans or their caregivers find resources, provide a need-based (not financial-based) food pantry and help connect veterans with other veterans in an alcohol-free setting. This became an apparent need, Hegi said, for those who struggle with substance abuse as an option for veterans to connect with other veterans in a space other than a club that happens to serve alcohol.

“We do not do VA claims or work with healthcare; we don’t provide financial assistance, but will help connect veterans to resources,” said Hegi.

She said the organization hosts numerous events per year, including two “Muster and Mingle” events per month. The other events held through out the year includes at Easter, a kids fishing derby in the summer, a back to school event and a Christmas party with Santa in December; all for veterans and their families. They are looking to add an adult fishing derby also, Hegi said.

“Muster and Mingle” is a gathering where veterans, their caregivers, spouses, and children can visit for a meal and listen to a guest speaker. The “Muster and Mingle” events started when it became apparent there was a need for a place to socialize away from alcohol and religious beliefs, which are barriers for some veterans. The first Tuesday of the month, veterans have been meeting at the Piqua Center, but they will soon be meeting at the Piqua branch YMCA Senior Center, beginning in January. On the last Wednesday of the month, they meet at The Tipp Center on North Third Street in Tipp City. Both locations hold the event from 5 to 8 p.m.

“Our focus for 2024 is getting better, not bigger,” Hegi said. She explained they want to focus on what they do best to be there for veterans and their families and hone in on those skills.

The office is open on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the food pantry being open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Veterans may call or text the organization at anytime at 937-570-6460. Volunteers will work around pantry hours, if necessary, to set up a time to meet on off-hours, Hegi said.

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