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Joint Veterans Coalition of Medina County to honor 2 men

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MEDINA — Two local residents will be recognized for their support of veterans at the seventh annual Medina County All-Veterans Military Banquet at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Williams on the Lake, 787 Lafayette Road, Medina.

The Joint Veterans Coalition of Medina County will honor Marine Corps veteran Jack Forster as the 2019 County Veteran of the Year, and Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell as County Veterans’ Advocate of the Year.

“Those selected this year are excellent awardees,” Coalition President Randy Schmidt said in a statement. “We thank the judges for their time to review a number of very qualified nominees.”

Judges were Wadsworth Mayor Robin Laubaugh, Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier and Medina County Commissioner Bill Hutson.

“Mayor Hanwell has been a firm supporter for veterans for many years and his support has been continuous and consistent,” Schmidt said. “He was an early supporter for the modernization of the Medina County Veterans Memorial Hall in Medina and made his support very visible with constant recommendations for fund sources. The campaign was able to raise $494,000.”

For many years, Hanwell has worked with veterans to support the city’s annual Memorial Day parade and always has been a participant.

He also has supported numerous displays and memorials for Armed Forces Day on the square. He’s always willing to help the cause.

Hanwell backed Medina Rotary Club’s effort to build a countywide 9/11 Memorial, located next to Medina Fire Station 1. He has been a key participant in American Legion Post 202’s annual Four Chaplains ceremony, which chronicles the sacrifice of four Army chaplains who died serving others in World War II.

“Mayor Dennis Hanwell’s support for veterans has been driven from the heart … far beyond the requirements of normal support for constituents,” Schmidt said.

Forster fought in Vietnam and was seriously wounded, Schmidt said.

As Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5137 commander for three years, Forster headed up many fundraisers for wounded warriors in the Medina County area. His post received “all state” recognition for two years. Forster was asked to serve on the Fisher House Foundation to raise funds for veteran families to have a place to stay while visiting their loved ones at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He helped raise more than $100,000.

For the past seven years, Forster coordinated with five counties to focus on veteran-specific causes at the annual Power Piston AutoRama show at Cleveland’s IX-Center, which draws more than 50,000 people annually. He has been treasurer of Disabled American Veterans Chapter 72 of Medina County, and treasurer of the Medina County Veterans Memorial Hall. He was president for three years.

He was appointed as an officer with the Medina County Veterans Service Commission in January.

“For many years, Jack has also been deeply involved as a member of American Legion Post 202 in supporting Buckeye Boys State, serving each year at the annual Ohio Boys State convention for one week of intense work with over 1,000 Boys Staters,” Schmidt said. “Ohio is the largest Boys State program in the nation.”

Tickets for the banquet are $35. Dinner will feature chicken cordon bleu, pepper steak and chocolate mousse for dessert. Price includes an open bar for draft beer, house wines and soda.

There will be a Chinese raffle. Cocktail hour will be 5:30-6:30 p.m. and dinner 6:30-7:30 p.m. There will be seating for the first 300 guests.

Anyone with questions should contact Coalition Vice President Phill Grassa at (330) 416-0792 or pgrassa@zoominternet.net.

“It is the capstone event of our other activities throughout the year to bring together countywide veterans and their guests for a great evening of food, fellowship and fun,” Schmidt said. “This year we expect to top over 200 in attendance. The annual banquet continues to grow and all county citizens are invited.”

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or email at rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.


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