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Business honored for supporting veterans

A local business was presented with a Show-Me Heroes Flag of Freedom Award for dedication to supporting veterans through hiring.

The award was presented to Rob Walt, co-owner of Rob’s Guns in Leadington on June 15 by Daniel Oliver, veterans’ employment representative with the Missouri Job Center.

Oliver said the award was meant to show appreciation to employers who regularly hire veterans and to encourage others to do the same.

“It’s a program that’s been in operation for more than eight years,” Oliver said. “It encourages Missouri employers to hire Missouri veterans. And that’s what Rob’s did — they signed up to be a Show-Me Hero business and then they qualified for the Flag of Freedom plaque.”

As a veteran himself, Walt said he takes pride in finding a quality workforce in those who have also served in the military.

“I’m a vet,” Walt said. “My wife is a vet. So that’s why we kind of tend to go with vets. Most vets are pretty good guys, they’re not just some guy on the street.”

Walt’s employees are members of the Navy Reserve, the Army National Guard, Air Force and the Army. Two of Walt’s sons are also in the military, continuing the legacy of service in the family. Prospective employees at Rob’s Guns don’t have to be veterans but Walt said being a veteran himself, it’s natural to want to help out other vets.

“We have a bunch of guys here that are in the military,” Walt said. “They don’t have to be. I’ve got two or three guys that aren’t. But it’s just one of those things — if you’re a cop, you hire cops. If you were in the Army, you hire veterans.”

The Flag of Freedom Plaque carries with it a special, personal touch of thank you to the employer it’s awarded to, and that carries special significance with Walt.

“It includes signatures by the Director of Veteran’s Programs in the State of Missouri, and in the middle there’s a cloth American flag worn by a Missouri veteran while he was deployed,” said Oliver. “And on the back is a small quote on a three by five card saying where the veteran served and what kind of unit they were with.”

“The patch was worn by a soldier in Afghanistan,” Walt said. “He was over there the same time as my boy. He’s out of Missouri, but I don’t know where from.”

Walt said the plaque will be the beginning of a collection of items hung on the wall of Rob’s Guns to honor veterans, including an item of particular importance to his family.

“It’ll be hung in the front and any vets that want to bring in service pictures and stuff, we’ll hang it up for them,” Walt said. “I did tours in Iraq, and I took a flag over there and hung it, signed it and dated it. And my oldest boy, when he went to Afghanistan he took it with him and signed it. I’m going to hang it out here on the wall. And my middle boy, he’s in the Army now. If he ever gets deployed we’ll let him take it. So that’s going to go into a big thing out here.”

Oliver said the honor is becoming more common, which is a good sign of support for veterans in Missouri communities, but Rob’s Guns is one of the few in the immediate area.

“They’re common now,” Oliver said. “I think since the program started, over 4,000 Missouri employers have qualified. But as far as I know, Rob’s Guns is one of the few in St. Francois County. It is a noteworthy accomplishment and it shows their commitment to hiring qualified Missouri veterans.”

According to the program’s website, the Show-Me Heroes program was started by then-Governor Jay Nixon in 2010 in cooperation with the Missouri Army National Guard and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development.

The program encourages businesses across the state to take the pledge to support veterans in their hiring practices. Once a business who has taken the pledge hires a veteran, it becomes eligible to receive the Flag of Freedom plaque. Businesses have the opportunity to connect with qualified veterans in search of work through the program’s website. For more information or to pledge your business to support the mission of Show-Me Heroes, visit

Rob Walt, center, receives the Flag of Freedom plaque from Veterans Employment Representative Daniel Oliver, left, and Mike Campbell of the Missouri Job Center.

Rob Walt, center, receives the Flag of Freedom plaque from Veterans Employment Representative Daniel Oliver, left, and Mike Campbell of the Missouri Job Center.

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