Brian Ohler ’20, ’22 MHA has demonstrated his commitment to service through his distinguished military career and his dedication to giving back to the community. He was recently recognized for his devotion as one of the newest inductees into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame.
December 17, 2021
Brian Ohler ’20, ’22 MHA began his military service in July 2001, and he spent the next 12 years serving as a U.S. Army military policeman. His passion for serving his country intensified following the 9/11 terrorist attacks that took place just two months later.
Inspired by the many members of his family and extended family who have also served in the military and volunteered as first responders, Ohler volunteered to serve all three of his combat tours of duty overseas. He served in Baghdad, Iraq, from 2003-2004 and from 2006-2007, as well as in Afghanistan in 2011. He also served in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Wounded in action during each of his combat tours, Ohler focused his passion toward serving others after his active enlistment ended. A volunteer firefighter, chaplain, and emergency medical technician in his hometown of North Canaan, Conn., for the past 20 years, he has also served on myriad nonprofit governance boards, and he represented the 64th House District in Connecticut’s General Assembly from 2017 to 2019.
The recipient of many distinguished honors, including three Purple Heart Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, the NATO Medal, and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, he was recently selected for induction into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame.
“I was surprised and really at a loss for words when the Veterans Affairs Commissioner’s Office called me, and told me I would be inducted,” said Ohler, who was officially inducted earlier this month. “There was a mix of emotions. All the things they were praising me for are things I’m just so passionate about — the military, my civil service, and my public service.
“I never thought it would receive such praise,” he continued. “I’m humbled and grateful for the recognition. To be in the company of the other class members, to read about all of the selfless things that they’ve done, it’s amazing. I’m so honored and thankful.”
‘A wonderful pathway for candidates like me’
A member and former commander of North Canaan’s VFW Post 6851, Ohler is also part of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Disabled American Veterans. He was recently appointed to serve on the state’s Qualifying Condition Review Board, helping to examine the cases of veterans who have had an other-than-honorable discharge and, if their cases are appealed, to ensure they receive critical care and medical benefits. The board began when he was a state representative.
“When I returned home from the Army in 2013, I got involved in local service right away,” he explains. “For a lot of people who have served in the military, coming home is hard. It’s hard to find a place in society. I always relied heavily on my passion to help others, and there have always been missions I can lend a hand to.”
Ohler, who also earned a bachelor’s degree in homeland security and emergency management from the University, has served on the front line of the pandemic. The associate director of safety and engineering at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, Conn., he plans to continue his education and his service.
“I will soon be taking on greater responsibilities with Hartford HealthCare’s Northwest Region, focusing on support operations,” said Ohler, who also hopes to pursue his MBA. “The MHA program at the University has, thus far, been a wonderful pathway for candidates like me who are seeking to expand their knowledge base and competencies when it comes to leadership dynamics and operational excellence in healthcare.”