Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries
Serving Greater Cincinnati

Ohio Valley Goodwill Hosts Distinguished Veteran Award Luncheon!

Dennis Koenig with Celina James, 2023 Distinguished Veteran of the Year

Ohio Valley Goodwill and it’s organizational volunteer Service Guild along with its Veterans Team was pleased to host the 2023 Distinguished Veteran Award Luncheon on Thursday, November 9th. The annual Veterans Day luncheon and the opportunity to honor a specific award recipient has not been held for the past three years due to the pandemic and the organization was pleased to be able to present this year’s special event.

This year’s Distinguished Veteran Award recipient is Celina James. Please see Celina’s compelling story below:

Celina James joined the army at 16.

“I was a teen mom and joining the Army was not only a way to serve my country, but

also a way to bring structure into my life.  It helped me grow and mature into the

woman I am today.”

Celina is a combat veteran with six and a half years of service.  As a member of the 371st Sustainment Brigade from Kettering, OH she was deployed to Iraq for 2008 & 2009 as part of  “Operation Iraqi Freedom” &  “Operation Enduring Freedom.” 

While in Iraq she was assigned to her unit’s Armor Room and the Motor Pool in charge of inventory and service for all equipment, until a Humvee tire fell on her in 2016, compressing her spine and damaging 4 of her vertebrae.   She was flown to a hospital in Dubai where she remained paralyzed for two weeks.   Once she could walk, Celina returned home to continue her rehabilitation still suffering from back spasms and excruciating pain.

Because of her injuries Celina could no longer do the work she had been trained for and fell on hard times.  She was forced to find a new career to support herself and her daughter.  That’s when she decided on Nursing school.  In 2021, after three and a half years of hard work, and a lot of support from Goodwill and the VA, Celina graduated from Nursing school.  Today she works as a Psych Nurse, and lives with her daughter in Cincinnati.

“There are a lot of organizations that offer assistance, but Goodwill does it with compassion and love and provides services that made me feel like part of a family.”

Sue Burreson, Guild President with Celina James

All veterans currently served by Ohio Valley Goodwill as well as those who are part of its employee team are honored during the luncheon and their service is celebrated in recognition of Veterans Day. Goodwill is grateful to its wonderful Service Guild for their dedication and support, its Veterans Services team and of course, all of the Veterans who were able to attend this year’s special luncheon event. Our most sincere Congratulations to Celina James on her personal story of success and on being the recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Veteran of the Year award.

To find out more about how you can honor a Veteran this Veterans Day and every day, visit our News page here. Thank you for your support of our nation’s heroes, our military service members.