Warmer weather in combination with the summer months could mean more road trips. And if you’re looking to include lessons about everyday national heroes both past and present, here’s a museum to consider for your travel list.
The National Veterans Memorial and Museum, which opened last year in Columbus, Ohio, could be part of an extended weekend jaunt or one segment of a cross-country excursion. The museum is about a six-and-a-half hour drive from the DMV,
The museum’s mission is to paint a full picture of the veteran’s experience by giving voice to those who have served in the U.S. military. All branches are represented at this museum, as well as different areas of military service.
“They reached out a couple of years ago and said that they were building a national museum for veterans, but it was going to be unlike any other veteran museum. They were not war focused or combat-veteran focused. They wanted the total military, and the total veteran experience by people with different jobs, ethnicities, backgrounds, eras, and so they reached out to me,” said Jas Boothe, a veteran from Haymarket, Virginia, whose story is one of those featured at the museum.
Boothe started her military career as a truck driver and finished as a human resources officer.
Her service time was peppered with some rough patches.
“I was headed to Iraq in 2005, but I lost everything to Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005,” she said. And in September that same year, she received a cancer diagnosis, which made her unable to deploy to a combat zone.
“I’m a survivor. I’m in remission, but of course radiation therapy and treatment left me with some lifelong ailments,” she said.
She wondered why museum curators would want to feature her story, “because … I don’t fit the typical narrative that you think of when you think of veterans. You think of men, you mostly think of veterans who served in combat,” she told WTOP.
“And they explained to me — that’s not what we’re about. Everybody who has served has contributed and deserves to have a chapter,” she said.
“I was just so excited that, you know, support personnel are finally getting recognition because we support the war fighters, and obviously they can’t do their job if we’re not doing ours. And so that’s pretty much how they found me.”
One exhibit that stands out to her is where she shares her military origin story.
“I was a single mother at the time that I joined, and … I already had a degree when I joined the military. So I didn’t join for college money. But I wanted to have a career that is not only rewarding, but challenging.”
She also wanted to show her son that titles like single mother, and other titles that society places upon people are not indicative to a person’s success.
“I thought that having a successful career in the military, not only as a single mother but also as a woman [would] show him that you can get past any stereotype or any label that society places on you,” Boothe said.
The exhibit “goes into those ‘why I joined’ type of scenarios, as opposed to what you did in the military. I think that people join for different reasons, and we’re all on different paths,” she said.
Booths said she thinks the varied reasons why people serve are important, “and for me, I did it for my children.”
NVMM, which is situated near the banks of the Scioto River, features permanent exhibits, a temporary exhibition gallery, and a memorial grove. Boothe describes it as “an ambient and quiet environment where you can just really go there and focus on the stories and the course of the military.”
“It honors the past, present and future,” she said.
For additional information and ticket prices, visit the museum’s plan your visit section. There’s no charge for veterans, Gold Star families and active duty military.