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Kevin Dayhoff: Former Black Hawk pilot Elizabeth McCormick to appear at Carroll County Veterans Independence Project event

As Veterans Day approaches, the Carroll County Veterans Independence Project has announced its first Boots & Bluejeans Barndance get-together and fundraiser on Oct. 16. The keynote speaker will be Elizabeth McCormick, a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot named as one of the top 30 motivational speakers in the world.

McCormick, a retired chief warrant officer 2, flew command and control, air assault, rappelling, top-secret intelligence missions, and also transported high-level government VIPs, including the secretary of defense.

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Former Black Hawk pilot Elizabeth McCormick will be the keynote speaker at the Carroll County Veterans Independence Project Boots & Bluejeans Barndance on Oct. 16.
Former Black Hawk pilot Elizabeth McCormick will be the keynote speaker at the Carroll County Veterans Independence Project Boots & Bluejeans Barndance on Oct. 16. (Kevin Dayhoff)

The Carroll County Veterans Independence Project (CCVIP) “is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established to promote and serve the interest and welfare of the approximately 11,800 veterans in Carroll County,” according to an article last March in the Carroll County Times.

“The organization’s top priority [was] opening its Veterans Service Center (VSC) and getting fully staffed to provide veterans with a one-stop shop to connect them with services they and their families need …” the article said.

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The Veterans Service Center at 95 Carroll St., Suite 104, in Westminster, opened June 14. Kevin Dayhoff photo
The Veterans Service Center at 95 Carroll St., Suite 104, in Westminster, opened June 14. Kevin Dayhoff photo (Kevin Dayhoff)

The article reported that Jason Sidock, 48, “was recently selected as executive director of the Carroll County Veterans Independence Project. He was selected for this new position by the board after the recommendation of an independent interview panel made up of members of the community, state, and county agencies. …”

The service center at 95 Carroll St., Suite 104 in Westminster, held a grand opening celebration on June 14.

In a recent email interview, Westminster Councilwoman Ann Thomas Gilbert, a member of the Veterans Independence Project board of directors explained, “In 2018 and 2019 the CCVIP hosted a gala in November near Veterans Day. This was one of our major fundraisers. As with other non-profits we have also been affected by COVID-19.

“This year instead of hosting an inside event we did an ‘about face’ shall we say and decided to host an outdoor event allowing for social distancing and lots of fresh air.”

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In an October 2019 article by this writer in the Carroll County Times, board member and Vietnam veteran Frank Valenti explained: “It all started back in October 2010, when I was appointed as the director for the Carroll County Department of Social Services (DSS.) The DSS is the county’s social service provider, serving over twenty-five thousand residents annually. DSS pursues a variety [of] opportunities to assist people in economic need, provide preventive services, and protect vulnerable children and adults. …”

Among the elected officials and dignitaries who spoke at the opening of the Veterans Service Center were, clockwise from top left, Carroll County state Del. Haven Shoemaker; Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees; Westminster Council member Ann Gilbert; and Westminster Mayor Mona Becker. Kevin Dayhoff photo
Among the elected officials and dignitaries who spoke at the opening of the Veterans Service Center were, clockwise from top left, Carroll County state Del. Haven Shoemaker; Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees; Westminster Council member Ann Gilbert; and Westminster Mayor Mona Becker. Kevin Dayhoff photo (Kevin Dayhoff)

Ed Cramer served in Vietnam in 1968 and1969. He currently serves on the Veterans Independence Project board of directors and the Westminster Board of Zoning Appeals. In a 2019 email, Cramer explained the need for a Veterans Service Center. The idea is “simple and straightforward. … To establish a Veterans Services Center that will provide transitional and rehabilitative services and housing/shelter to the approximately 10,000 veterans and/or family members living in Carroll County. This will be a collaborative effort among the human and social service agencies and nonprofits serving the County. …”

Many folks in the community understand the need to support veterans. In that same October 2019 article, Westminster council member Tony Chiavacci, an Army veteran, explained: “I am grateful that we have folks in our community that are willing to work so hard to create an important organization like VIP. As a veteran I am well aware of the need for their existence. …”

The Barndance will be held at Rob’s Bluegrass Barn, 821 View West Drive in Westminster, on Oct. 16 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Ronnie Wayne, Kenny Wise and the Tidewater Band will be the featured entertainment. There will also be a live auction and silent auction for some boot-stomping fun. The event will include plenty of food, including steak and chicken grilled on site.

Gilbert explained in an October 2019 email: “What does America or Carroll County need to know about its Veterans, new and old? That they are not one voice, one experience, one memory, one war, one problem. That 2.5 million Veterans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. That does not consider or count Desert Storm, Vietnam, World War II, or the Korean War. ...”

As of October 2019, Maryland had “ over 380,000 Veterans and in Carroll County over 10,000 Veterans. As of January 2018, Maryland had an estimated 7,144 people experiencing homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Of that total, 574 were Veterans …” Gilbert said.

A ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held June 14 to mark the opening of the Veterans Service Center. Kevin Dayhoff photo
A ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held June 14 to mark the opening of the Veterans Service Center. Kevin Dayhoff photo (Kevin Dayhoff)

Recently Gilbert added, “We have no intent of leaving a veteran in Carroll County behind. If you are in need of services or help please call or stop by the center on Carroll Street. If you are interested in attending the Barndance or would like to see the variety of sponsorships for the event, or just want to donate to CCVIP please call 667-314-3700 or email athomas3g@gmail.com.”

I have written about veteran affairs a number of times in the past. Portions of this article have been published before. I served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve stateside during the final stages of the Vietnam War and currently serve as the chaplain of Carroll Post 31 of the American Legion.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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