Aug. 18 chamber event to support service members

Aug. 18 chamber event to support service members

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The Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Ohio Committee of Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve to launch this year’s Statement of Support Drive on Aug. 18 from 5-7 p.m. at the Wayne County Fair Event Center to support service members.

ESGR strives to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. The intent of the Statement of Support program is to increase employer support by encouraging employers to act as advocates for employee participation in the military. Supportive employers are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s guard and reserve units.

Employers signing a statement of support pledge to fully recognize, honor and comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act; provide managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage employees who serve in the guard and reserve; appreciate the values, leadership and skills service members bring to the workforce and encourage opportunities to hire guardsmen, guardswomen, reservists and veterans; and continually recognize and support the country’s service members and their families in peace, in crises and in war.

Keynote speakers for the event will be Maj. Gen. Deborah A. Ashenhurst, director of Ohio Department of Veterans Services, and Maj. Gen. Steve Stivers, CEO of Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

In her over 37 years of service, Ashenhurst served at all levels of command, and in 2011 she was appointed to the gubernatorial-level cabinet position of adjunct general of the State of Ohio. She commanded the 17,000 service members of the Ohio National Guard, the Ohio Naval Militia and the Ohio Military Reserve until January 2015. Prior to her appointment as the adjunct general, Ashenhurst was a 25-year federal employee in various positions of increasing responsibility with the United States Property and Fiscal Office with the Ohio National Guard.

Ashenhurst's career culminated in service as a special assistant to the vice chief, National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C. Upon her retirement from the military in October 2015, she served as the senior vice president, military strategy with R2 Associates. She has received numerous awards and decorations including the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (with one Silver and one Bronze Oak Leaf cluster) and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

In May 2021 Stivers was selected as president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As the state’s leading business organization, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce champions free enterprise, economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohioans.

Prior to joining the Ohio chamber, Stivers represented Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, where he served on the financial services committee and was the ranking member on the subcommittee on housing, community development and insurance. In 2003 he was appointed to the Ohio Senate and successfully ran for a full term in 2004. He served over 30 years in the Ohio Army National Guard and holds the rank of major general.

Stivers served the United States overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he led 400 soldiers and contractors and is proud each one returned home safely. Stivers received a Bronze Star for his leadership throughout the deployment.

Companies that preregister for the event at will receive a statement of support, a press release announcement with a social media tag (if applicable), opportunity to nominate two C-Suite or HR managers to participate in the Ohio BossLift Program and an ESGR swag bag.

ESGR, a Department of Defense program, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment. ESGR is supported by a network of more than 3,600 volunteers and 54 committees.