A History of Service: Veteran to Volunteer

In July, United Church Homes presented Roger with the Spirit Award for his volunteer work at Patriot Ridge Community in Fairborn, Ohio. “It was a nice surprise. It was an honor,” said Roger, 55, of Fairborn. “I was just doing it to be pleasing to the Lord. I want to serve people.”

Roger, who grew up in Springfield, Ohio, joined the Army after graduating from Tecumseh High School. He retired from the Army in September 2014 and seven months later began volunteering at Patriot Ridge.

Roger visits Patriot Ridge seven days a week. He talks to veterans like 96-year-old Charlie Burke. He visits residents who do not have family or friends nearby. He also takes resident dogs, Rusty and Riley, for walks several times a day.

Patriot Ridge Activities Director Karen LeBlanc and other staff nominated Roger to receive the Spirit Award. “We wanted to honor him for all he’s done for the residents. He’s just a great person,” Karen said.

Bob Spruance, 95, whose wife lived at Patriot Ridge for more than four years, said Roger makes friends with everyone he meets at Patriot Ridge and in the neighborhood. “He’s just a kind-hearted, good solid Christian,” Bob said.

Phyllis Howard, 80, who has lived at Patriot Ridge more than two years, said Roger often visited her and her husband, Oscar, who served in World War II and the Korean War. “When my husband passed away, Roger saluted him,” Phyllis said. Phyllis said she does not have many visitors, but Roger continues to visit her almost daily. “He always speaks to me and asks me how I’m doing. It makes me feel good. It kind of cheers my day a little,” Phyllis said. “He’s a great guy, a great man.”

Roger, who is deeply religious, visits people in hospitals and long-term care communities to lift their spirits and serve God. “I’m a believer in Jesus and a follower of Him, so I want to honor Him in what we do. I just want to honor the Lord and treat people right,” Roger said.

“I love meeting people. A lot of people don’t have families or their family is far away. I’m here every day. A lot of them are going through dementia, Alzheimer’s and don’t remember what they had for breakfast or lunch. They remember people, though, and they remember Riley and Rusty.”

Roger now works at the National Air Space and Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. While in the Army, he served assignments in Germany, Kuwait, Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin, Alabama and many other locations.