Ballou named September 2021 Veteran of the Month

Special to the News Bulletin / USA TODAY NETWORK

TALLAHASSEE — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced Specialist Mark Ballou, who served in the Florida National Guard and as a Veterans Social Worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs, as the September 2021 selection for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Veteran of the Month.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Commissioner Nikki Fried were among those present as military veteran Mark Ballou was named Florida Veteran of the Year during the September meeting of the Florida Cabinet. From left are Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Governor Ron DeSantis, Specialist Mark Ballou, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.

Fried presented a proclamation honoring his service to Ballou at the September meeting of the Florida Cabinet.

The FDACS Veteran of the Month Initiative, established by Fried shortly after taking office in 2019, recognizes veterans who have excelled in service to fellow Floridians, and honors the contributions that the men and women in uniform have made to our state.

“I am proud to recognize Specialist Ballou for his significant contributions to our state and our country,” Fried said. “Specialist Ballou has dedicated his life not only to protecting the United States, but to helping his fellow servicemen and women. We know he will continue to do great work and to make Florida proud.”

Ballou served in the Florida National Guard and as a Veterans Social Worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Crestview. In the National Guard, he served as a Combat Medic and was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In Iraq, Specialist Ballou was tasked in performing guard duties, combat patrols, and quick situational response. During his deployment, he was wounded in combat and received a Purple Heart. After leaving the military, he became a VA social worker and served as a Readjustment Counselor at the Vet Center in Shalimar.

He currently serves as a Veterans Social Worker, and has had the opportunity to serve veterans in many different situations: from homeless veterans to justice-involved veterans. In the spring of this year, he celebrated 10 years at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. 

Ballou’s military awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Medic Badge, and War on Terrorism Service Medal.