Canton, Ohio,
05:33 PM

Honoring our veterans

Employees at the Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) refinery in Canton, Ohio, have a motto: One Team One Goal. But for these employees, it’s not just something they say, it’s something they live by – which they proved last year with their goal to honor veterans.

In 2013, Brad McKain, general manager at the refinery, asked Environmental Safety and Security Manager (and veteran) Darin Barber to form a veteran’s committee. That first year, the committee ran a newsletter story thanking vets for their service and provided them with a flag and care package. Veteran’s Day is now recognized every year with some sort of token of appreciation to the 56 veterans who currently work at the refinery.

The six-member committee (Darin Barber, Todd Norman, Scott Hein, Henry Hinojosa, George Semrau, and Andrew Johnson) now works to do much more than the Veteran’s Day recognition. In an effort to find something everyone at the refinery could be passionate about, they chose Fisher House, a foundation that provides free lodging to the families of military and veteran patients receiving medical care at major military and Veterans Administration (VA) medical centers.

Since the nearby Cleveland VA is the largest VA without a Fisher House, the committee decided to help raise money toward its construction. Between corporate and personal donations, raffles, and help from the third-grade students at the Sacred Heart of Jesus school of Wadsworth (students made collection cans for the refinery and raised funds by allowing students to wear jeans to school for a $1 donation), the Veteran’s Committee presented a check to Fisher House for more than $6,800 in November 2015.

Efforts surrounding veterans did not stop there. The committee organized an event where employees wrote messages on two MPC flags which were sent to deployed troops. The refinery’s Product Control Department completed home repairs for a local Korean War veteran as part of Rebuilding Together of Greater Cuyahoga Valley. Separately from MPC, a group of employees teamed up with the Quantico Injured Military Sportsmen Association (QIMSA) to bring two Wounded Warriors to Ohio for four days of waterfowl and deer hunting. Chris Zurcher, who opened up his property and home to QIMSA, said, “I was honored to be a part of this event and to be able to give back what I could to those who have given so much for us and our freedom.”

The refinery’s aerial fire truck joined local fire departments in raising the American flag at several events honoring veterans, including a ceremony celebrating Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and Wounded Warriors, and an Ohio Flags of Honor Memorial remembering the men and women who have given their lives in the war on terrorism.

As with many things where we give our time and our energy, those of us who have participated in these events get back more than we give. The Canton refinery has rallied around our efforts for veterans.
Darin Barber