Lieutenant joins The Salvation Army

Fitch

The Salvation Army Tiffin Citadel welcomed a new lieutenant to the community recently.

Lt. Dustin Fitch was installed as a Corps Officer July 1 and he is excited to be back in Ohio after spending two years in the state before his training in New York.

Fitch said before getting involved with The Salvation Army, he was a college cheerleader at the University of Pikeville and played arena football for the Eastern Kentucky Drillers for two years. He said he was a police officer for about a year and a half in Martin, Kentucky, before he got the opportunity to continue his education.

While he went to school for fine arts, Fitch said his calling came after he got out of the Marine Corps in 2009 and the Lord called him to ministry. He said a youth pastor showed him what it was to take after God. At first, he was scared and ran from it, but then, Fitch said, he started to embrace it.

“Having the feeling that I had something to give back to other people was very important,” he said.

Fitch said after feeling the call to ministry is when he went back to college to figure out who he was and what he was supposed to be doing.

“It took to 2014 before I actually made the connection to The Salvation Army and found the avenue that I wanted to do ministry in,” he said.

From 2014 to 2015, he worked with the Urban Mission team on the west side of Cincinnati. In 2015 and 2016, he was an administrator assistant The Salvation Army in Chillicothe, and it was after that he went to New York for his officer training, he said.

Fitch said The Salvation Army is an organization that tends to work in the varied demographic he has worked and grew up in.

“I grew up in a very poor home with one parent. I really see that demographic a lot and see the hurt some folks have gone through,” he said. “I connect with that because I know what it’s like and to just give back and help people, not with a handout, but with a hand up to people and that’s really what I feel like the Lord is calling me to do.”

Fitch grew up in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, which he described as a “small, coal mining town that is big on high school sports and supportive of everything in the community.” Because of this, he said coming to Tiffin isn’t really an adjustment for him; it is like coming back home.

“The biggest adjustment has been (going from) the hustle and bustle of New York, which was a big change of scenery, and getting back into the small town feel and not having to be in a rush to do everything,” he said. “(Going from) feeling like I’m pressured in the fast-paced city life … and here, I feel like I really have the opportunity to think about something before making a decision.”

He said he truly believes that Tiffin is “a small town with big dreams.” Fitch said he sees an area that has “amazing potential” and is “on the rise.”

“Downtown is growing, people are investing back into it and I just want to come alongside that and help that and be here for not only those downtown, but in Seneca County that may fall on hard times. It is a great area for growth and potential that I really see thriving in the coming years,” he said.

Fitch said his biggest plan is to integrate into Heidelberg and Tiffin universities because he feels The Salvation Army hasn’t tapped into their full potential. He said he would like to find a college student that is interested in leading music or teaching a music program he wants to get started. Fitch also said he noticed this is an “outdoorsy area,” known for “hunting and outdoors recreation” and as a level 2 archery instructor, he has the training to bring a program like that “off the ground.”

“There is an archery program The Salvation Army works with called ‘Heart of the Outdoors.’ It is a discipleship program that takes archery and connects it to the gospel. That’s one of my other big pushes,” he said.

Fitch said having many platforms for public relations and getting to know people is vital for a Salvation Army officer. He said he thinks working in public relations most of his life and encountering a variety of situations throughout the years has helped prepare him for the job.

“You’ll shake hands with some very influential people in the community and also be able to help those that at times feel like they can’t help themselves. The biggest thing for me is knowing I’ve been able to do both of those. …” Fitch said. “I’m a people person and I’ve never really met a stranger. I think I would be able to talk with anybody and connect with many people.”

Fitch said he is to be the only officer in Tiffin for a year, until his fiancé, Junie Veillard, joins him as an officer after they get married in June. Veillard is from Long Island, New York, and is the associate corps officer at The Salvation Army in Lima.

Fitch said he wants people to know that he wants to be of help wherever it is needed.

“The Salvation Army is here and willing to help no matter what circumstance. My door is always open and I’m only a phone call away,” he said.

Fitch said The Salvation Army’s children programs are to be starting back up once school starts and the listing and times of those programs are to be posted once kids get back into school. The Salvation Army Worship and Community Center, 505 E. Market St., is open 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information about The Salvation Army, call (419) 447-2252.