KITTANNING – A pair of local veterans who have continued serving their communities long after their military service ended, were honored last week by Armstrong County.
At their meeting on Nov. 4, held at the Belmont Complex to allow for area veterans and their families to attend, county commissioners Don Myers, Jason Renshaw and Pat Fabian proclaimed Nov. 11 as Veterans Day, and oversaw the presentation of two awards to two area veterans.
Kathy Rashlich, the county’s director of veterans affairs, announced that Betty Reeseman Calhoun of Dayton was named the 2020 Veteran of the Year in Armstrong County, while Walter “Butch” Confer of Parker was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
After graduating from Dayton Joint High school and continuing her education at the St. Francis School of Nursing in Pittsburgh, Calhoun entered the U.S. Air Force in 1965 as a registered nurse, serving in the 822 Medical Group at Turner Air Force Base in Alband, Ga., and at the 908 Medical Group at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wy.
At the end of her tour of duty in 1968, she was honorably discharged with the rank of first lieutenant.
After her military service, Calhoun returned home and continued her education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education with a school nurse certificate. She later achieved her school nurse practitioner status from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Her nursing career included teaching at the LPN program at Indiana Vo-Tech, and 28 years as a school nurse practitioner in the Armstrong School District.
Rashlich highlighted how Calhoun continued to serve her community through the years with volunteer work at the Dayton Grange, of which she has been a member for 62 years and is the group’s current secretary. She also volunteers at the Marshall House Museum in Dayton and is the president of the Dayton Area Local History Society.
Calhoun is also an active member of the Dayton Glade Run Presbyterian Church where she served as deacon and pianist for Sunday School, and is active in many community events.
As an American Legion 30-year member at Post 995 in Dayton, she serves as adjutant and participates in the Memorial Day, Veterans Day and elementary flag programs. She also serves as vice president of the post’s Auxiliary Unit.
In 2007, Calhoun received the Distinguished Service Award, the premier award from the Pennsylvania American Legion.
Rashlich said Calhoun has shown a “commitment to keep her Post a vital asset to the community and the American Legion.”
In receiving his Lifetime Achievement award, Confer was lauded for his service in the U.S. Army during Vietnam, and his work as past commander of VFW Post 7073 in Parker, and past county commander.
Confer also belongs to American Legion Post 598 and has held office in that post. He was also an organizing member of the local Honor Guard.
In the community, Confer has been active with the Parker Volunteer Fire Company and Fire Police, and helps with Post activities and patriotic observances in the area.
“I have a chance to work with the greatest members of our community,” Rashlich said in presenting the awards, adding that local veterans should be appreciated all year, and not just on Veterans Day.
She noted that many veterans throughout the county continue to serve their communities.
“They’re the first to see a need and to volunteer,” she said.