A Butler County judge has appointed likely the youngest commissioner ever on the veterans board, a Desert Storm vet from the Disabled American Veterans post in Hamilton.
Judge Noah Powers interviewed three DAV members to replace Ken Smith, who is retiring after 15 years on the board, and chose 47-year-old David Reed. The judge said all three men were strong candidates but age was one factor in his decision-making process, because the board that has traditionally been an older group.
“Having somebody younger who can reflect the needs of the younger people I thought was important,” Powers said. “But I had a great group of candidates, I really did. I was really thrilled with all of them, but David kind of stood out.”
Reed served in the Army from 1989 to 1995 and currently is an archive technician for the National Archives in Dayton. He has been active in the DAV and is the youngest member there also. He has two associate’s degrees in bio-med and computers from Brown Mackie College in Cincinnati, degrees he was able to get through the VA.
Reed said there are many younger vets who have no idea veterans service commissions exist or about the myriad programs available to them through the VA. He says it will be his personal mission to reach out to as many younger vets as possible.
“What I’m hoping is to bring the younger veterans’ point of view,” he said. “Because we need to start getting the younger veterans involved. We have the younger veterans coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq, we need to get them involved with veterans issues and see what we can do for them.”
He said they need to get younger vets involved in the service organizations and do outreach at the medical clinics. He said the vets might not know about the Butler County Veterans Service Commission, but they know how to get medical attention. He suggested the county look into getting a mobile claims unit like Warren County has, so they can go to the vets, rather than expect them to find the help.
He said he also is very happy the board has stepped up its advertising, something the outgoing Smith resisted because he thought it was too expensive and wouldn’t prove valuable.
For years the vet board had the same membership year-after-year. When problems came to light several years ago — the former executive director was accused of being a bully and a racist, and a former board president resigned over accusations he created a hostile workplace — the appointing judge, retired Judge Patricia Oney, started making some changes. Her goal for the last several appointments was just to find someone who could play well with others.
Today the atmosphere is one of congeniality and cooperation.
Reed said he might be younger but he has an inkling he’ll fit in just fine.
“We all have one thing in common, we’re all veterans and in the veterans community we’re all brothers and sisters,” he said. “We may not have the same parents, the same bloodline, but we’ve all been to the same places and done the same things. We have a bond, if someone needs something we’re there to help.”
BCVSC Executive Director Caroline Bier said she believes Reed will take a page from Commissioner Chuck Weber’s book.
“He probably knows more veterans that are younger, and he can start influencing that age group to get connected with their benefits. To find out what services we have,” she said. “Chuck has done so much reaching out to fellow Vietnam vets, he has funneled a lot more Vietnam vets to our office, because that’s who he connects with.”