More than 810,000 veterans live in Ohio. Including family members, over 2,000,000 Ohioans are part of veteran families – including more than 140,000 children.
There seems to be an innate drive in veterans to serve our nation and be part of something bigger than themselves.
They feel proud of their service, but sometimes the road home is dark and difficult. 130,000 Ohio veterans live in poverty; 140,000 have difficulty feeding their families. 120,000 struggle with service-related mental health issues.
Military Veterans Resource Center is an Ohio 501(c)(3) nonprofit that for nearly 20 years has helped struggling veterans regain their self-reli-ance and independence.
Each year, we serve over 3,500 Ohio veterans by providing assistance with employment, shelter and transportation. We provide thousands of meals to hungry veterans and their families, deliver school supplies to the children of veterans and offer free, confidential mental health counseling services.
The Road Home is dedicated to increasing awareness of the sacrifices men and women make in service to America, and the struggles many face when they come home.
Sergeant First Class (Ret.) Michael Schlitz, who is our guest speaker, enlisted in the Army in March 1996 and served as a rifleman and Platoon Sergeant. While in Baghdad, Iraq on February 27, 2007, Schlitz and his crew were on a road clearing mission when their vehicle was struck by an improvised ex-plosive device (IED). His gunman, medic and driver were killed. Schlitz was ejected from the vehicle. He lost both hands and his eyesight in his left eye and sustained burns on 85 percent of his body.
Schlitz now travels the country speaking on behalf of injured veterans.
“I’m happier now than I’ve ever been,” he said. “Before I was injured, my life was about me, and now I get to make my life simply about others. Don’t feel sad or apologize for what happened to me. This experience made me stronger. If there’s one thing to take away, it’s this: The American service member’s spirit cannot and will not be broken,” he added.
His mother, Robbi, has become Schlitz’s full time caregiver and is a constant source of motivation. They currently live in Columbus, Ga., in a specially adapted smart home.