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8 Central Illinois veterans among Bicentennial Honor 200 recognized for community service

Herald & Review - 10/26/2018

Oct. 25--SPRINGFIELD -- Eight Central Illinois veterans were among those named as recipients of Bicentennial Honor 200 award on Wednesday afternoon.

"It's a pleasant surprise," said Jules "Butch" Spindler of Robinson, a Marine Corps veteran and one of the 200 honoress. "I never thought anyone would ever give me something like this."

Co-sponsored by the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs and the Illinois Bicentennial Office, the commemoration honors 200 veterans who have given back to their communities after being honorably discharged from military service.

Nominees were evaluated on both their achievements and on the extent that their contributions have aided, benefited and provided inspiration to their communities, according to a Wednesday news release from the Department of Veterans' Affairs and Illinois Bicentennial Office.

"We are proud to honor these 200 men and women as part of our Bicentennial celebration," Gov. Bruce Rauner in a statement. "Their service didn't stop when they took off their uniforms.

"They continue to be heroes among us by going above and beyond the call of duty to take care of the people in their communities."

Along with Spindler, other Central Illinois honorees included Kathie Powless of Blue Mound, Blake Schroedter of Effingham, Joseph S. Schaler of Lincoln, Darrel Tucker of Clinton, Roy E. Ziegler of Taylorville, William T. Jackson of Forsyth and Philip H. Mette of Effingham.

The honorees have been invited to attend the state's 200th birthday celebration in Chicago on Monday, Dec. 3.

Powless, who served in the Navy for 14 years, has been the superintendent of the Veteran's Assistance Commission of Macon County since 2005.

She said former Veteran's Assistance Commission Chairman David Freyling, who passed away in July, took the first steps to nominate her and insisted the process be completed after his death.

While she prefers to "fly under the radar," Powless said she was honored to be named a recipient, and that it was special because Freyling nominated her.

It's also special because her work to help county veterans is important to her.

"I won't stop even when I retire," Powless said. "I'm always going to have some contact with my veterans. I can't just leave them. They're all my veterans. They're my passion."

Spindler owns a financial services agency in Robinson, and is active with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4549 in Crawford County. He once served on the VFW's national council of administration as a representative for the state, and still holds an office with his local post.

Spindler said he didn't always feel comfortable speaking openly about his military service, as many Vietnam War veterans like himself were not warmly received when they returned home to the United States.

His mindset changed in time, he said, and he felt that he owed it to those who didn't return home from the war to give back to the community.

"I've never done anything looking for accolades," Spindler said. "But I'll take it. I'm sure there's a lot more deserving people than myself."

Blake Schroedter said the Bicentennial Honor 200 is a sign that the continued service of veterans after the end of their military careers is being recognized by many throughout the state.

"There's a lot of veterans out there doing good work," said Schroedter, a captain in the Illinois Army National Guard and a psychologist who oversees a mental health clinic for rural-area veterans as a part of Chicago'sRush University Medical Center's Road Home Program.

The program provides support, counseling and mental health care services for veterans and their families regardless of their ability to pay, he said.

"People have a lot of talents, and a lot of experience and wisdom based on military service," Schroedter said. "I think it's important when veterans understand that they can come home and give back to their fellow veterans."

Contact Jaylyn Cook at (217) 421-7980. Follow him on Twitter: @jaylyn_HR


(c)2018 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.)

Visit the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) at www.herald-review.com

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