Veterans Advisory Council Members
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Debborah L Wallace | Team Lead | Dayton
U.S. Army Veteran, Vice City Mayor, City of Beavercreek
Debborah L Wallace was born in Lorain, Ohio. She graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in Psychology & Biology. She got married and needed to find two jobs. Debborah joined the U.S. Army in the Stripes for Skills Program and after Boot camp was promoted to Staff Sargent. Her father had been in the U.S. Army.
She served as a Behavioral Psychologist in Fort Knox, Ky. and Friedberg, Germany from 1974- 1977. When she left the Army, she moved to Dayton, Ohio, got a job with the City of Dayton Office of Management & Budget, put her husband thru University of Dayton Law School and completed her Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Dayton. She divorced in 1980 and started her own business, Wallace Insurance Services, LLC in 1983. She has been providing Group & Individual Health, Life, Disability, Medicare, and Long Term Care Insurance in addition to providing Financial, College and Retirement planning for the last 33 years.
She is currently serving in her 7th year of an 8-year term as City Council Member of Beavercreek, Ohio. She is totally involved in the community being on the Board of Directors for Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, Miami Valley Military Affairs and member of Beavercreek Chamber, she is a Life Member of the VFW & DAV.
Debborah loves to be sailing on large sail boats, traveling, biking, rowing, swimming, reading, watching movies and exploring new places. Being able to help other Veterans in receiving VA health care, making a difference in how services are provided is why she has been a member of the Veterans Advisory Council since 2009.
Debborah was motivated to train for triathlons after being told from the VA that her ability to walk could be lost at any time. Debborah ran the 1986 Marine Corps Marathon in 6 hours, 6 seconds. She feels that if she lost her ability to walk, she had done something that most people had not. Love life & encourage all around her to embrace their abilities to be happy, have fun and do inspiring things is her moto.
Woody Stroud | Backup Team Lead | Dayton
U.S. Air Force Veteran
Woodrow (Woody) Stroud was born in Dayton, Ohio, and has lived in the Dayton Region, except for academic studies, military duty and civilian employment assignments since 1941. He now lives in Spring Valley Township, Greene County. He graduated from Kettering Fairmont High School and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government (now Political Science) from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. Woody enlisted in the United States Air Force/Air National Guard and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant as a maintainer. He was subsequently commissioned a First Lieutenant and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, last serving as commander 178 Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, after 28.5 years of service.
Woody is retired President of Merchants Capital Management Corporation and retired Senior Vice President, National City Indiana. He continues to be involved in investment activities.
Woody believes in a philosophy of community engagement and so continues to participate in civic activities. He currently serves as or on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC member); Chair, Greene County Transit Board; Trustee (Past President) Miami Valley Military Affairs Association (MVMAA); Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce (Past Board Member) Military and Federal Government Affairs Committee (Past Chair); Ohio Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), formerly Vice Chair and Interim Chair; Miami University College of Arts and Science Alumni Advisory Board; Miami University Veterans Tribute Committee (currently planning, then securing funding and then erecting a structure recognizing KIAs, and other Miamians who have served in the armed forces since 1812). He served on the Board of Greater Dayton Jaycees Housing, Inc. and participated in the building of a 210-unit rent subsidized housing project for seniors of which he was President for more than a decade before the assets were gifted to the Dayton Foundation. His experience has informed his support for Vets housing on the Dayton VA campus. Woody has served on a committee for Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) Strategic Planning 2013, focus group: Front Line Supervisors charged with improving timeliness and transparency of Human Resources processes. In 2008, he served on the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA) committee reviewing processes and practices at Dayton VAMC. Woody joined the Veterans Advisory Board (now Veterans Advisory Council) at its first meeting on April 15, 2008.
Dr. Samuel A. Adebonojo | Dayton
U.S. Army Veteran, Retired Chief of Surgery
Samuel A. Adebonojo, M.D. born in Lagos Nigeria, West Africa, immigrated to the United States in 1959 to study medicine. He earned his BSc. Biochemistry with Summa Cum Laude in 1962 from Howard University and obtained the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. He returned to Nigeria after obtaining his Board Certifications in General Surgery and Cardiothoracic Surgery in 1972 and 1976 respectively. He spent 15 years of his professional practice in West Africa where he performed the first Open Heart Surgery at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria, the premier University Hospital in West Africa and served as Secretary-General of the West African College of Surgeons when the surgical residency training program was established in West Africa. Dr. Adebonojo returned to the United States in 1990 after two years as the pioneer of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Al Gassim province in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where he performed the first successful re-implantation of a totally amputated right forearm of an 8-year old Saudi patient during the Gulf War. On his returned to the United States in December 1990, he was assigned to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC where he held the position as Chief of General Thoracic Surgery during the Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm and treated many war injured patients from the war front in Kuwait and also from Germany. As the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at WRAMC, he trained several thoracic residents many of who had achieved eminence in the Medical Corp and one of his residents was promoted Brigadier General in 2013. He retired as Lt. Colonel in 1997 to take up the onerous appointment as Chief of Surgical Services at Dayton VAMC as well as the Associate Director of Surgical Residency Training Program at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Dayton, Ohio from January 1997 until his retirement in January 2007. He was appointed Professor Emeritus, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine where he continues to be active in the medical school as a member of the Admission Committee. He had been a member of the Veterans Advisory Council since 2012 where his major interest had been the promotion of quality care to our veterans. He is an avid reader and enjoys classical music. His hobbies are lawn tennis, table tennis, squash, racquet ball, swimming, national and international travelling as well as meeting with a plethora of people. Dr. Adebonojo lives with his wife Maureen of 54 years in Beavercreek, Ohio; they are blessed with three children, Margaret 54; Anthony 49 and Christopher 43 years and two grandchildren, Daniel, 13 and Joy 8.
Jacob S. Atkinson | Dayton
U.S. Marine Corps. Veteran
Jacob S. Atkinson Sr. "Jake" was born in Midwest City, Oklahoma, and was raised in Nocona, Texas. After graduating high school, he moved to Baltimore, Maryland to attend college. He studied business management at Columbia community College. After two years of college, he joined the United States Marine Corp, where he graduated Honor grad from Paris Island and The School of Infantry. During his time in the Marine Corp, he was assigned to First Battalion Sixth Marines. While in 1/6, he was deployed to Panama, Korea, Australia, and Japan. While in these locations, he completed joint operational training with Rock Marines, Queensland Air Force, and humanitarian aid for children in Panama. He has training in mountain warfare school in Bridgeport California, jungle warfare in Columbia, and dessert warfare in Twenty Nine Palms.
After receiving an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, he went into restaurant management. He had the opportunity to work for an amazing concept called The Cheesecake Factory. He started in Washington D.C. and was promoted to Senior Manager and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. After two years, he again was promoted to Assistant General Manager. He was then promoted to General Manager and asked to move to Dayton, Ohio and open The Cheesecake Factory at The Greene. After five years and many long hours, he decided to move from a higher volume establishment to a lower volume establishment. He is currently the General Manger for TGI Fridays located in Centerville, Ohio.
He has five children, ages 22, 17, 16,13, 8, and an amazing partner Tracy Fittz, who is his best friend and is a wonderful mother. She is an Occupational Therapist. Each one of his children is highly active from baseball, radio, college, and dance. While his work is a passion, his children's success is his love. He enjoys volleyball, fishing and competing in Tough Mudder.
Desiree Barrett | Middletown CBOC
U.S. Marine Corps. Veteran
Desiree Barrett has a Master’s in the Art of Teaching in the field of Integrated Social Studies from Miami University (2010) and is certified in the state of Ohio for grades 7 through 12. For her undergraduate degree (1997), also from MU, she had a double major in both history and philosophy. She currently works on a day-to-day basis as a substitute teacher (for all grades and need levels) after having served 24 years as a career firefighter/EMS provider/technical rescue technician (retired 2011). Desiree is still a certified fire/rescue-instructor as well. Prior to becoming a firefighter, Ms. Barrett served 4 years active duty as a U.S. Marine (1981-1985) then an additional year of active reserve duty as a Ground Radio Repair, and ended with a rank of sergeant E-5. From boot camp at Parris Island, she went to 29 Palms for school, then was stationed at Camp Lejeune, and finally at Okinawa. It was more than two years after her honorable discharge that she eventually married and had a wonderful son, and then had a second marriage with two beautiful daughters. Her first-born son was even born on the Marine Corps birthday! Desiree’s daughter-in-law has given birth to her first grandson, and she couldn’t be more proud of all three of her children. But with her children all being young adults, she wants to spend more time volunteering to help others, which she does now through the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Veterans Advisory Council. At GLSEN, the focus is on making schools safe learning environments for all students, regardless of stereotypes based on sex, gender, orientation, or how others are perceived in those regards. Desiree joined the Veterans Advisory Council in July of 2015. She hopes to help bridge the gap between what Veterans understand about their benefits and what is available and how to effectively access it on the one hand and on the other hand to make the VA more aware of what Veterans’ diverse needs are as well.
William (Bill) Fitzgerald | Dayton
U.S. Air Force Veteran
William (Bill) Fitzgerald was born and raised in Springfield, Ill. He moved to Ohio in 1988 with his father. After a few years, while watching the start of Desert Storm on the news, Bill realized he wanted to serve his country. He joined the U.S. Air Force on September 5, 1991. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in December of 2013 after an injury in 2009. Bill served for 22 years.
Bill and his wife Micki have been married for 24 years and have two children. Their son Colman is 22 years old and their daughter Kennedy is 18. Bill and his family currently reside in Centerville, Ohio.
Bill is currently completing his bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration. He enjoys reading, fishing with his son, spending time with his wife and with his daughter.
Bill joined the Veterans Advisory Council because, as a disabled Veteran himself, he wants to help other Veterans receive the benefits and care that they deserve.
Yvette Whitley | Dayton
U.S. Army Veteran
Yvette W. Whitley is originally from Greensboro, Ala. She graduated from Alabama A & M University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and from East Texas State University with a Master of Science Degree.
She graduated from ROTC and entered the U.S. Army as an officer.
After the military and currently, Yvette works for AK Steel Corporation in Middletown, Ohio as a Senior Analysis. She was selected two consecutive years for Who’s Who in Cincinnati. She has one adult daughter, one grandson and is very active in her church.
Yvette enjoys helping Veterans and is proud to be on the Veterans Advisory Council.
Butch Marcum | Richmond CBOC
U.S. Army Veteran
Jerome (Butch) Marcum was born and raised in Richmond, Ind. Except for two years in the Army and twelve years in Phoenix, Arizona the rest of his life has been in Richmond. He attended Purdue University but got caught up in the Vietnam War. Butch was drafted in January 1968 and ended up as an infantry squad leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam. After the service, he worked with his father and learned the jewelry/goldsmith trade which he still does part time after retiring in 2010. He is married to his wonderful wife, Cindy and have two grown sons. One is an engineer with Honda in Alabama and the other is a Corrections Officer with the State of Arizona, they also have four wonderful grandchildren. He has been very involved with the VFW for the last twenty years and was Post Commander of VFW Post 1108 in Richmond, Ind. During his time as Post Commander, the Post purchased three apartment buildings next to the Post Home. They rent these to Veterans that are temporarily down on their luck. They also offer job assistance and counseling while there.
Dale Richardson | Dayton
U.S. Army Veteran
Dale Richardson is a native Daytonian, he is a 1964 graduate of Roosevelt High School and a 1974 graduate of Wright State University. He is a Vietnam Veteran and served in the U.S. Army from 1965-1967. His work experience includes factory work for General Motors and Dayton Tire and Rubber. He has been editor of two grassroots community publications, RAP Magazine and The Dayton Black Press Newspaper. He also hosted a public affairs program on Public Television and co-hosted a talk show on WKEF/Channel 22 where he also served as a guest editorialist.
Mr. Richardson retired from Montgomery County Children Services where he worked 33 years as a Recruiter/Trainer for foster and adoptive parents. He is active in the neighborhood and civic organizations and he volunteers at the Dayton VA Hospice Center.
He has been married for 48 years and has adult twin sons.
He became a member of the Veterans Advisory Council in 2015. He says working with and supporting Veterans is an honor and privilege that strengthens the value and worth of our society.
Will Thompson | Lima CBOC
U.S. Army Veteran
William D Thompson (Will) was born on Kadena Air Force Base in Choton-Cho Okinawa, Japan while his father was stationed there and doing TDY’s to Vietnam. Will was there until he was five years old and after that he spent time in Idaho, West Virginia, Kentucky, and finally settled here in Ohio. He attended Eastmoor High School in Columbus, Ohio which was the home of Archie Griffin and Michael Feinstein. Will played football and found the love of jazz.
After high school Will entered the military and spent time with the U.S. Army, Army Reserves, and finally with the Ohio Army National Guard as a Combat Engineer. In December of 2003 Will deployed to Iraq and while there served with a multitude of units doing route clearance, security patrols, personal security detail, and training of multi-national forces. In November of 2006 Will re-deployed back to the states. After spending time in Fort Knox, and Walter-Reed in the Warrior Transition Unit. Will retired in 2011 from the Army and Ohio Army National Guard.
Will is now employed by the State of Ohio as a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialist helping other Veterans get job ready, obtain a career, and helping them obtain other services as needed.
In his personal life Will is married to Connie and they have a blended family of four daughters and one son. Will spends time with his family going to his children’s extra–curricular activities, working and doing therapy on his homestead working on a Veteran’s farm program, volunteering as a service officer with the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled American Veterans, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also is working on completing his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis on combat stress from American Military University. Will joined the Veterans Advisory Council in November of 2015.
David Hamilton | Dayton
U.S. Army Veteran
David Hamilton is a San Antonio native, now retired in Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from the University of Texas in 1966 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Field Artillery. He earned an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and did further doctoral studies at Columbia University. He is a Certified Public Accountant.
Upon entry into active duty in 1969, he was transferred to Army Finance Corps. After a brief stay at Ft. Lee, Virginia, he was assigned to 9th Corps, and soon appointed Chief Disbursing Officer for Finance Service Center, US Army Ryukyu Islands. As a newly promoted Army Captain, he deployed with 9th Corps (as 9th Combat Support Command) responsible for MACV’s currency and central funding operations. His final active duty assignment was Chief Accountant for the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands. After active duty, he served in the Army Reserve, teaching a variety of military subjects for the 5035th USAR School.
Dave moved to Dayton in 1979, joining the City of Dayton as City Accountant (Comptroller). He has held a variety of profit and not-for-profit financial management positions in the Miami Valley, retiring in 2006 as Finance Director of Family Violence Prevention Center of Greene County. The following year, he joined the Columbus Military Entrance Processing Station as ASVAB Test Administrator, a part-time position he continues to this day. Dave joined the Veterans Advisory Council in October of 2017. Married for 42 years, Dave and his wife Lynne have one daughter, Michelle.
Dan Gorby | Dayton
U.S. Marines Veteran
Dan Gorby was born in Beckley, West Virginia, moved to Fairborn, Ohio with his family when the coal mines were closing in 1954. He graduated from Fairborn High School / Greene County Career Center in 1970 and joined the Marine Corp the same year. Dan spent 8 months with 1St Force Recon in Vietnam. Dan was medically put on Temporary Disability Retired List in October of 1972 and was retired September of 1978. During this time from 1972 to 1978 he spent the first 27 months in and out of the Dayton and Cincinnati VA Hospitals.
He attended Sinclair Community College and earned an Associate Degrees in Accounting and Mechanical Engineering. Dan completed his BS in Business Administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati at the age of 48 in a weekend degree program.
He started his civilian career in 1978 working in Computer Aided Design for 20 years. During this time, he supervised up to 25 people. He was operations manager for a computer aided design and manufacturing operation in Dallas, Texas. Dan started his own contract business of 20 years as a Senior Technical Project Manager managing Information Technology projects which consisted of software development, IP Phone systems, and infrastructure projects including routers, ERP systems and telecommunications.
Dan has been volunteering at the Dayton VA for approximately 5 years. He has been part of the DAV Transportation taking Veterans to Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. He has been working at the Dayton VA Hospitality desk and Hospice Unit in the Community Living Center for 4 years. He hopes to help Veteran’s anyway possible and make their visits as trouble free as possible. He also works with the Veterans Advisory Council and internal VA departments to correct any issues that may arise.
Jerry Ferrell | Springfield CBOC
U.S. Army Veteran
Jerry Ferrell was born in Bradford, Kentucky in Bracken County. Growing up, he lived on a 150-acre dairy and tobacco farm. His father proudly joined the Army during World War II in 1942. During the war, his father became deathly ill with an infection and was expected not to live. His father was among the first soldiers to receive Penicillin as an experimental drug and it saved his father’s life. His father was honorably discharged from the Army in 1946, and lived to become a Magistrate of Bracken County in Kentucky until his death.
Jerry wanted to follow his father’s footsteps so he joined the Army in August of 1983 at 28 years old. His boot camp started with 200 recruits and approximately 150 recruits graduated. He was selected as one of the top 10 to be recognized as an honor graduate. While on duty, he was thrown off a M109 Howitzer injuring his lower back, but was able to continue his enlistment. He gained 5 ranks within 3 ½ years before being honorably discharged as a Sergeant in 1987. Towards the end of his enlistment, he served in a Special Forces Reserve Unit in Jamestown, Ohio.
After the military, he worked for Crounse Corporation for 7 years working on riverboat barges transporting coal. He traveled several rivers throughout the East, South, and Midwest including the Ohio River and Mississippi River. In 1992, he was featured on a PBS special called “Always a River”. After leaving Crounse Corporation, he worked as a boilermaker throughout the United States, Europe, and The Middle East. Unfortunately, the military injury caught up with him resulting in a 5 ½ hour back surgery, and became a disabled veteran in 2010.
Jerry is the proud father of his 12-year-old son who is a top-rated gymnast in the nation, and a 4-time State all-around champion in Ohio.