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WV Proud

Veterans Museum of Mid-Ohio Valley

Vets Museum Sign

In the Living Appalachian quest to discover all things culturally, historically, and contextually significant, we actively seek places of interest; sometimes we stumble upon treasure troves of historical significance. Thursday, 12 May 2011 was such a day. While running errands in Parkersburg, West Virginia, I drove past the Mid-Ohio Valley Veterans Museum; the rather smallish building looked out of place for a museum, but the professional-looking signage indicated a very real effort underway. I whipped the car around and stepped through the old glass door into a wonderful presentation of military history. This place is more than a mere collection of memorabilia and uniforms: the displays tell the stories of the men and women who actually owned the equipment. Preserving these heros' stories honors their contributions.

We have a dedicated photo album of the displays; you can access it via this link, or the Photography Page of this site.

Vets Museum Sign

I was greeted by Elysia Horton, a friendly staffer/volunteer and we were later joined by Gary Farris, the Director, CEO (pictured here with Regina Jackson) and creator of the nonprofit organization responsible for the professionally presented, 1700 square foot display space. The project is the brainchild of Gary and other local veterans who wanted to preserve and honor our veterans' stories and memories. Regina Jackson is the assistant and it is a full time job keeping up with all of the exhibits, displays, memorabilia, photographs, letters, uniforms, equipment and posters of various wars.

Displays

Vets Museum

The Mid-Ohio Valley Veterans Museum boasts having the only chaplain display in West Virginia; particularly interesting is the mini, rugged, Army field desk style piano; you can see pictures of this green musical instrument in the photo album.

Each display of a uniform tells a story about a real veteran; the museum's many exhibits contain placards with the story of the uniform/equipment.

Vets Museum Sign

They even have an actual piece of the Berlin Wall.

Stories

Most museums have plenty of artifacts and they often tell of the history surrounding the item on display. In the Mid-Ohio Valley Veterans Museum, however, the service member's story is cherished, documented and proudly displayed.


For instance, the museum has an unknown soldier's exhibit: An old man died in a hotel room with no immediate family. The hotel manager told maid to throw away his few remaining belongings as there was no known next of kin, but the maid, recognizing the significance of the medals, kept back the awards and donated them to the museum. We still don't know the identity of the man, but his memory is honored.

In another story, a man was married two months before he shipped overseas; the bride was 17 and he was 21; he was KIA 2 months before the war ended; he was part of the invasion during WWII on the Siegfried Line that sustained 50% casualties and his widow received notification of his death 2 days before the war ended. He is buried in France and she is still alive today. His story has an interesting occurrence of the number "2".

Purpose

The purpose of the Veterans Museum of Mid-Ohio Valley is to honor veterans and educate the public on the important role veterans contribute in the history of this country and making the U.S.A. the great nation it is today and to preserve the memories of their service. In addition, the museum has space dedicated for video and a book library.

Care Packages

Vets Museum

The museum staff sponsors a care package program for our troops currently serving in Afghanistan and other places around the world. You can donate items for the packages, and there is a list of common items needed here. Alternatively, you can pay for the shipping of a prepackaged box to Afghanistan; the rates start at $12.95 and forms for shipping are available here. The packages are shipped to a chaplain in the theater of operations and they have established a sundry store, where the troops can come in and get what they need, free of charge. This system gets the right care package items, to the right persons, without waste and with oversight.

Medal Replacement Program

Many Veterans were discharged without medals and the Medals Replacement Program is designed to assist Veterans in obtaining medals they rightfully deserve, and in many cases, were never properly awarded. Often, the process involves an application, copy of the DD 214 (Discharge from Active Duty Form) and other proof of eligibility. Gary is passionate about this program, and tells of times when the military, in its amazing efficiency, will reply that concerning the serviceman in question, his records were destroyed in a fire and they are unable to verify eligibility – when they have a proper copy submitted.

Stepping Stones of Honor

Stepping Stones of Honor

Parkersburg, West Virginia, joining with Mid-Ohio Valley Veterans Museum created a display in the City Park, where space reserved for the Stepping Stones of Honor. The display honors all military veterans and those currently serving our nation's armed forces. Over 5000 brick spaces make up the display and there are vacancies. A stone can be purchased for yourself or someone else; details and an order form are available http://veteransmuseumofmidohiovalley.com.

Events

The museum staff takes many of the displays on tour several times throughout the year; their purpose is to raise funds and awareness. They have a dedicated trailer, tents, and tables and you can find them in several venues:

  • Every Memorial Day, the museum hosts an open house and celebrates Veterans with a picnic at the Parkersburg City Park.
  • The crew sets up the display for Volcano Days in September at Mountwood Park.
  • Spring Mountain Festival in Petersburg, WV towards the end of April.
  • August finds the crew in the Black Berry Festival in Nutterfort, WV.

Funding

Like most non-profit organizations, they rely heavily on private donations. Gary spends his time and a significant portion of his income to the project. Additional funds come from small grants from the state; Wood County gives the museum $2500/year. The Mayor of Parkersburg supports the program with significant personal contributions and the City of Parkersburg funded the majority of the Stepping Stones of Honor project.

Keeping any museum funded, supplied, equipped and staffed is a constant challenge, especially in today's economy. The Veterans Museum of Mid Ohio Valley would like to express our sincere gratitude to those who have contributed time, money, and treasure.

Thank you!

Retail Items

The staff of Veterans Museum of Mid-Ohio Valley has some military items, mostly clothing, for sale in the museum (quasi-gift shop) and they offer the same merchandise during their events (above). Among the items for sale, are uniforms, t-shirts, hats, bathing suits, girls and kids clothes, BDU's (Battle Dress Uniforms), knives and swords. It is important to note that donated items are never sold.

Growth

The Veterans Museum of Mid-Ohio Valley has many more items ready for display, but they lack the necessary floor space. They are looking for a bigger place but are limited by funding.

Docent Scholarships

The Veterans Museum of Mid-Ohio Valley, in cooperation with the Bess O. Stewart Memorial Fund of the James Wood Chapter (National Society Daughters of the American Revolution), offers high school students, who participated in the Docent program, a $700 scholarship. Eligibility requirements, application forms, and the scholarship process is available on http://veteransmuseumofmidohiovalley.com

Banner Programs

Vets Museum Sign

The museum sponsors a Blue Star Banner (photo) where mothers of military folks deployed are presented a banner with a star for each family member serving overseas. The family is presented with a Gold Star Banner if the service member is KIA; fortunately, the Veterans Museum of Mid-Ohio Valley has only presented one Gold Star Banner as of this writing.

Civil War

Civil War

The museum tries to focus primarily on war and conflicts after the Civil War; however, the era is represented by a single display with some artifacts, pictures and stories.

Family Support Program

Offering free home repair assistance (small, simple fixes – no kitchen make overs, please!) to veterans and their families during times of hardship; the service is accessed by calling the museum.

Contact

1829 7th Street
Parkersburg, WV 26101
304.420.0332
Web: http://veteransmuseumofmidohiovalley.com
email: veteransmuseum@hotmail.com
Hours are 9-5 Mon-Sat
Suggested donation during your visit is $5 and there are plenty of opportunities to contribute to this fine organization.

Photo Album: Click this Link