COMMUNITY GEM: Iraq veteran helps motivate Miami Valley Young Marines

Keagan Miller takes his role as unit commander of the Miami Valley Young Marines of Huber Heights and Troy very seriously.

“He volunteers countless hours running the youth leadership program. He has been honored with numerous awards for his work including the Enrique Camarena Red Ribbon Award,” said Andy Richardson who nominated Miller as Dayton Daily News Community Gem. The Camarena award is in honor of Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent kidnapped and murdered in 1985 by the Mexican drug cartel. Miller’s award recognized his individual contributions.

He is the unit commander with the Young Marines and the training officer of the Midwest Division. “He has enhanced the drug prevention platform by completing nearly 500 Drug Demand Reduction education hours, which he has used to amplify the Young Marines vigorous Drug Demand Reduction efforts,” Johnson said.

Miller’s creativity has generated success for organizations including the Young Marines, Johnson said. He pointed to his development of drug prevention education videos used throughout the organization.

“He has motivated his youth members to lead virtual classes that are available to all Young Marines. In addition, he developed and hosted a nationwide virtual Health Drug-Free Lifestyle Challenge at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Johnson wrote.

Miller was born in Kentucky and spent part of his youth in Florida before moving to Ohio and graduating from Miami East High School in Miami County.

He joined the Marine Reserves in Dayton in 2000 and learned about the Young Marines through the reserves unit.

He served in Iraq and also is active in veterans organizations.

“Doing this, the Young Marines and veterans groups, you continue to serve,” Miller said. “That is something I learned from John Bankowitz and other mentors from that program.” Bankowitz was previous unit commander.

He and Miller also serve on the Miami County Veterans Services Commission together and Miller is active in the Troy AmVets organization.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Dayton and works for OnSolve.

He and his wife, Tina, have three children – Ian, Kira and Owen – ranging in age from two to six. Tina also is involved in the Young Marines.

Miller’s work with Young Marines is all volunteer. “With the Young Marines, not only do I mentor but I also get to meet a lot of great people and mentors in the program,” he said.

Noting that drug prevention is a large focal point for the organization, Miller said he hopes the community has benefitted from the drug prevention efforts. The unit has been the recipient of the Camarena through five times, he said.

Although it is a national program, Miller said the Young Marines is not as familiar to people as other youth programs such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. “It is like a hidden gem,” he said. More Young Marines are always welcome, Miller said

His nomination as a Community Gem was “kind of humbling,” Miller said noting he read about others recognized and was impressed by them.

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