XENIA — The executive director of Greene County Veterans’ Services spent his last afternoon in the role watching a veteran graduate from treatment court.
Chris Chrystal, of Xenia, retired Sept. 27 after 14 years of county service.
“I just feel like I’ve been blessed to be part of an organization that helps our veterans,” he said. “It’s just a passion, a love for our veterans. I feel extremely privileged and grateful just to have had that opportunity, that chance to do that.”
Chrystal, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in the Vietnam Era, started as an administrative assistant at Veterans’ Services in October 2005 and became deputy director in January 2009. He’s held the role of executive director since July 2014.
“It’s a bittersweet ending after all these years. I’m so happy to have worked with great, like-minded people to help our veterans,” he said.
Greene County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Sept. 19 honoring him for his years of service.
“Chris has done an excellent job,” Board President Tom Koogler said. “We’re going to miss him.”
During his tenure, Chrystal helped create the World War II Veteran Recognition Program along with Greene County Veterans’ Court.
“It’s been a tremendous experience for the folks of Greene County with his leadership,” Judge Stephen Wolaver said.
Chrystal said he plans to still be involved with the county’s Veterans’ Service Commission but is leaving the office in good hands.
Tim Espich is the new executive director.
“I’m very excited about helping the veterans here of Greene County to learn about what they’ve earned through their military service,” Espich said. “It’s an honor and a privilege.”
Before the Greene County Veterans’ Court graduation ended, Chrystal spoke to the specialty court’s fifth graduate, Jon Holmes.
“Jon, I think if we’re all honest with ourselves, we’ve made decisions sometimes in the past that we wished we wouldn’t have. And sometimes those decisions result in situations where we wish we wouldn’t be,” Chrystal told him. “But I think the real determination that you have is evidence of the character that you have. It’s your determination that brought you out of this. And I commend you for it.”
Then he took the graduate’s hand and left him with a challenge coin.