U.S. Marine Tyrone Sanders has continued his calling to serve others long after his active duty in the United States Marine Corps, earning him the 2023 Veteran of the Year award. One of Tyrone’s biggest accomplishments is his work in the community with the Summit County Stand Down.
He started volunteering in 2017 because of a volunteer he met while working at the Akron VA as a lab technician, Ellen Leidy. She was running the Stand Down at the time. During his first Stand Down, Tyrone helped by taking vitals of participants and soon realized how important the event was to the community.
“I saw all the great things the event was doing and knew I wanted to be involved,” Tyrone said.
When Ellen decided to step back as the Chairperson of the Summit County Stand Down there was conversation about turning the event into a resource fair. Tyrone was worried about all the progress made with Stand Down and knew all the Vets it helped would be disappointed if they no longer offered all the services previously provided.
“I felt it was my calling to be there and work hard to keep the resources available to Veterans for the event,” Tyrone said.
Tyrone became the Chairperson in 2019 and has continuously put effort into planning and growing the event. He traveled to different Stand Downs and gathered ideas on how to improve the event. His research led to the addition of a job and school fair during the Stand Down in September, which attracted recruiters from 15 employers and representatives of local colleges and trade schools.
Following the annual event, Tyrone keeps leftover boots and other clothing items in his car to share with Vets in need within the community.
Tyrone remembers meeting one Vet at the VA who couldn’t afford a pair of boots or a winter coat. Tyrone gave him what he needed that day and the man started crying.
“I told him about the Stand Down that we have every year and he attends it now and always thanks me when he comes in,” Tyrone said. “Moments like this make it worthwhile to keep going.”
Ellen also introduced Tyrone to the Marine Corps League. She was a big influence in Tyrone’s life because she introduced him to many of the community organizations he is involved in today.
“Ellen led by example,” Tyrone said. “She put in a lot of volunteer hours at the VA and really cared about the Veterans.”
Tyrone joined the Chesty Puller #269 Detachment in Cuyahoga Falls in 2017.
Like Ellen, he has held multiple positions in the detachment, including Jr. Vice Commandant, Commandant and, currently, Sr. Vice Commandant. Given his work with the VA, Tyrone regularly updates the detachment on important news, including available services, vaccine or flu shot updates, laws that impact health care access, and other items.
He also became a member of the Ohio Department of the Marine Corps League at the state level. In 2019, he served as Jr. Vice Commandant and in 2020, took on the role of Judge Advocate, which he still holds today.
Tyrone attends quarterly meetings with the detachment to discuss volunteer projects, how to better reach out to Veterans in need, how to improve recruiting and other services.
The state meetings, however, are where Tyrone’s efforts really shine. The state meetings also serve as a fundraiser for local detachments, and Tyrone would host these meetings. His wife would cook food, and he would put together gift baskets and raffles to help raise money to assist more Vets in the community.
In honor of his extensive involvement in these groups and meetings, Tyrone received the Marine of the Year Award for the Chesty Puller #269 Detachment in 2021.
Winning the Summit County VSC 2023 Veteran of Year award became a full circle moment for Tyrone when he learned that the person who nominated him was someone he met in the Marine Corp League as well as a past recipient of the Veteran of the Year award himself.