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July 7, 2016 • Headline News
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Versailles legion elects a woman for first time in top spot

Mary Mattingly

For the first time in 97 years, the Versailles American Legion Post has a woman as commander. Candace Tuller, an Air Force veteran and Versailles resident, was elected to the top leadership position by the local post #173 and installed June 9. The 261 member organization which she’s belonged to since she moved here from Ohio in 2012 welcomed and accepted her right away, she said.

Pictured is the Versailles legion new commander Candace Tuller.

During her speech after she was installed, she couldn’t help but mention other military women who have paved the way. In the Revolutionary War, Debra Sampson was jailed after they discovered she was a woman dressed as a male soldier to defend her country. There was also Molly Patchard who served side by side with her husband loading cannons until he was killed yet she continued fighting. Of course, “Rosie the Riveter” wasn’t a military gal, but she was noteworthy for women who stepped into factory roles when men left to serve. During World War II women who wanted to serve in the military could only do so in the nurses corp. Tuller might have become a Navy nurse, but when she went to the recruitment office the 19-year-old was told their quota was filled and the officer directed her down the hall to the Air Force. The year was 1973 and women were just being put in traditional male military jobs. “I shocked the chief when he picked up his new troop. He saw my size and told me to pick up the 40-pound toolbox.“ Although under 5 feet tall, he underestimated the new recruit. Strong-willed and confident, that was the only order she needed; she picked it up.

Tuller was trained in aircraft electronics and worked on F1 fighter jets and then in base management operations, soldering circuit boards and grip sticks. During her six-year commitment, she never went overseas, but that was not because she didn’t want to, she said. “I understand I was breaking ‘the glass ceiling’ and all that, but it was more about doing the best job I could do,” the mother of two said. Tuller continued the same work ethic in her full-time position as veteran services director in Ohio. She worked in two different counties there for a total of 20 years.

Moving to be near her daughter Kathryn Gable in Osgood, Tuller works part-time in the Ripley County office, serving alongside Veteran Officer Ken Hylton. Hylton was elected in 2014 to the highest office in the state legion as department commander and it was he who introduced her to the local legion post. She became as active as he has been, serving in various offices and helping in their mission to serve the community. She was a first vice president and adjutant Tuller didn’t set out to make history at the post, but “I am proud to be that person,” the woman who counts sewing and cooking as her hobbies said. “I’m a very traditional person in a non-traditional role.”

She hopes being in the top leadership position will bring awareness to other women veterans to join the legion. Tuller does have female company at the legion. There are about eight women, four who are active. Sandy Pickett is one and she is on the firing squad and Sara Bettis carries the flag in all the parades and recently painted an artistic rendition of the US flag on the exterior legion hall. Tuller is also a coach in the newly formed junior shooting sports program held at Friendship. True, she admits, “We (women) have come a long way…baby!”

Back when she went to basic training in 1973 women had to take a makeup class. They were told to not wear heavy makeup or big jewelry. When she married an Air Force man and then became pregnant there were no maternity uniforms available. After the birth of the first of two children, she was given a remote assignment, but she could not leave her infant; so, she was eventually discharged. Tuller has two children, a daughter and son, both supportive in her military role.

Things have changed for women in the military since she entered some 43 years ago. As of December, 2015, women are accepted in all combat roles in each branch of the US military. The Air Force and Navy have relatively few jobs that currently exclude women, but the U.S. Army and Marine Corps bar women from nearly 220,000 jobs in what are known as combat arms or the infantry, artillery and armored divisions. “The door is open for us,” the 62-year-old grandma acknowledged. “Like I have before, I just always try to do my best.”

Facts on women in the military

• 14,000 American Legion Posts in the U.S. with 2.4 million members
• In 1917-1918, women were allowed to join the war effort as nurses, and of the 33,000 who did, 400 died.
• As of 2011 Pentagon figures show that 14.5 percent of the 1.4 million in active duty military are women.

First for Indiana in 20 years
Ripley County health officer elected to AMA

Mary Mattingly

David J. Welsh, MD, Ripley County’s health officer, was elected by delegates to the American Medical Association (AMA) to serve on the organization’s Council on Science and Public Health. This is the first time in 20 years an Indiana doctor has held a position in the AMA. The election was held during the AMA’s annual meeting June 11-15 in Chicago. Composed of 11 members, the council uses scientific evidence in reports to the AMA House of Delegates on a wide range of public health and medical issues. Council members represent the full spectrum of the medical and public health continuum, bringing diverse expertise to their recommendations.

Pictured is Ripley County Health Officer David J. Welsh, MD.

A fellow with the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Welsh has served as the health officer for Ripley County for more than 25 years and as the long-time team physician for Batesville High School. He is a past president and Board of Trustees chairman of the Indiana State Medical Association (ISMA) and joined the ISMA’s AMA delegation in 2009.

“I am excited to be able to take my knowledge and experience in public health and safety to a national level,” said Dr. Welsh. “I now will work for positive change not only at the local level but also for our state and nation to make certain we can answer the call when disaster strikes, whether that be natural or man-made.”

Within the AMA, Dr. Welsh was previously chosen to chair the Organized Medical Staff Section Governing Council and also represents the AMA on the Joint Commission Hospital Professional and Technical Advisory Committee. An independent, not-for-profit organization, the Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the U.S. In 2014, Dr. Welsh served as the AMA representative at the World Medical Association Leadership and Advocacy meeting in Singapore and was selected nationally to serve on the Wellpoint Physician Advisory Committee

Welsh said he believed his grass roots work as the county health officer was seen as a benefit to the council. He’s the only health officer on the council. “There are a lot of great ideas but a counties like us and can’t afford new tools or resources,” he said. He also said how the state and area handled the southeast Indiana HIV epidemic was brought up during his question and answer period. “They heard of our experience and the steps taken,” he said. Besides drug problems, he’s seen on the upcoming topic list obesity and sugar content in beverages. Welsh said the benefit to the county would likely be the additional resource. “We usually have contact with the state, but this is a whole new measure of resources for health.” He expects to be on frequent conference calls as well as attend the interim meetings.

The AMA has 200,000 members and makes health recommendations on various medical situations and conditions. Before graduating from the Indiana University School of Medicine, Dr. Welsh was a cum laude graduate of the University of Notre Dame and valedictorian for his class at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. He completed his surgical residency at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. Dr. Welsh and his wife, Mary Beth, who is from Oldenburg, have two children, Kathryn Marie and Andrew Joseph. The couple live in Batesville.

Local Bulletin Board

Application deadline is Friday, August 5.
Tyson Fund grant applications available
Many years ago, before Jim Tyson passed away, he wanted to set up a system to perpetually assist the residents in Versailles with things that might otherwise increase their taxes. He decided that he would set up a trust so that groups that are nonprofit and hold an IRS 501c (3) or (4) exemption could request funds to help them out with projects that would otherwise fall on the taxpayers in the Versailles area! For more information about the Tyson Fund, eligibility and how to apply read page 2 of the Osgood Journal dated June 14.

Contest is set for July 17.
Applications available for county queen contest
The Ripley County Queen Contest is set for July 17. To enter the pageant, contestants must be 16 years old and cannot be over 21 by the time of the 4-H fair for this year, which starts July 23. Read the rules and more details on page 2 of the Osgood Journal dated May 31.

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