Vets honored at Salem health care facility

SALEM — Residents of Salem West Healthcare who answered the call of their country heard their names called once again Wednesday, this time in honor of their service, with a thank you and a medal reserved for heroes.

“We have what we have today because of veterans. We like to acknowledge that,” Joe Kramer of Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals said, adding, “We do this to give back.”

Kramer serves as vice president of sales and marketing for Geri-Care, which is a supplier of Salem Healthcare Center, the operator of three nursing home facilities in Salem on Bentley and Continental drives. This was the 16th Call for Heroes event for Geri-Care and the first in Salem. Each of the more than 35 veterans honored received a Geri-Care Heroes medal.

“It has been a true honor to take care of our community’s veterans for the last several years. We were more than humbled when Geri-Care approached our facility about hosting this veteran’s ceremony. We always appreciate all the community support for our veterans,” Salem Healthcare Center Executive Director Ryan Valiquette said.

He noted that Salem West Healthcare is the only Columbiana County provider for local Veterans Administration residents who need longterm care.

Also on hand for the ceremony was Salem Mayor John Berlin, who said that both his father and his brother, who are both deceased, were Navy men. His father served during World War II and his brother, a previous resident of the care facility when it was Essex I, served in a nuclear submarine. He said he was pleased to be at the event.

“The city of Salem thanks you for your service,” he said.

Assisting in passing out the medals were Salem Disabled American Veterans Chapter 122 Commander David Oesch and Adjutant and Past Commander Rod Farkas and U.S. Army Staff Sgts. Brian Skalecki and Reason Mayle, both recruiters at the U.S. Army Recruiting Center in Alliance. Farkas served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and Oesch, an Iraqi War veteran, served in the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Merchant Marines, the U.S. Army and retired from the U.S. Air Force.

Both Skalecki and Mayle were honored to be part of the ceremony and see so many people who served before them in all the different branches of service. Skalecki said it’s nice to see they still get recognized for their service.

“It’s always amazing to interact with them and hear their stories,” Mayle said.

Both thanked the veterans before passing out the medals.

“You kind of paved the way for us,” Skalecki said, with Mayle adding, “Thank you for everything you did for us.”

Oesch also thanked the fellow veterans for their service and for their help in hosting Salem DAV fundraisers, saying he appreciates everything they do. The honorees included both men and women.

Bugles Across America bugler Dan Mazur played “Taps” to close out the ceremony.