CADIZ – Dirk Harkins has a passion for helping veterans and first responders in the community. As part of the American Legion, it’s a topic near and dear to him, and he has helped to recognize both veterans and first responders of the community for their work.

Each month, he, and a dedicated committee, choose a person who exemplifies the honor and commitment that is often found among those who have chosen to spend their lives serving others. 

For the month of June, Capt. Mark Touville of the Sheriff’s Office was chosen. 

When asked why Touville was picked, Harkins said, “His passion he brings to the table each and every day and what he does for the community; getting involved in helping others in the community.” 

As a first responder, Touville is dedicated and hardworking; protecting and serving to the best of his ability. 

“I believe that we need law and order,” he said. “I’ve always had a passion to be a law enforcement officer since I was a little kid.” 

When he would play the classic “Cops and Robbers” games with friends, he was always the cop. This passion didn’t fade over the course of his life and he’s now served in law enforcement for 26 years. 

Even when he’s not in uniform, he’s still serving the community. He spends a lot of time helping on area farms, lending a hand to bale hay or do whatever else needs to be done. 

“I kinda just go wherever help is needed,” he said. 

It’s hard work but he says he enjoys it anyway because “it’s different from what I do [at the Sheriff’s Office].” 

A friend of his has show cattle that Touville helps out with often. He grew up in the Adena area and enjoys hunting and fishing whenever he has the time.

 “I’m rooted here and I’ll stay here,” he said. 

When his two children were growing up, he coached softball and baseball for them. Although he is not as involved with those sports now, he said, “I love softball. Love watching it, love coaching it.” 

His daughter, Sarah, graduated from Harrison Central High School this year and is going on to attend Belmont College in the Fall to earn a degree in Radiology and Phlebotomy. Part of Harkins’ program is granting scholarships to first responders/veterans and their families. Sarah received a $500 scholarship to go toward her education.

Touville didn’t serve in the military and when he thinks back on that decision he wonders if he should have. 

“I think I serve better here” (in the community),” he said. 

He expressed deep respect for veterans.

“It is an honor to receive recognition from our veterans and we are beyond appreciative and humbled by these gifts. Our veterans have sacrificed and given everything to our country and continue to give even after they come home. Veterans and active-duty military members are definitely a special kind [of] human being. So, if you know a veteran or active military member or have an opportunity to meet one that you may not know personally, take time to talk with them and thank them for their service. Remember it is their sacrifice that allows all of us to enjoy the safety and freedoms of our nation. And make sure you educate your children on our military members past and present so that they can fully understand and appreciate our nations’ heroes. May God bless each and every veteran and active duty member of our armed forces each and every day,” he said.

While Touville said he doesn’t feel worthy of the recognition he has received, Harkins was quick to point out that “he’s a great leader” and that first responders “are on the front lines right here keeping us safe.” 

Touville’s humble nature and quiet command are evident in the way he carries himself and how he speaks. He truly exemplifies the best characteristics of first responders.

Later this year, Harkins and the American Legion will be putting on a Veterans/First Responders Jamboree when the community can join in a day of fun but also reverence to honor those who put their lives on the line for their neighbors. 

Last year, the first ever jamboree raised $14,000. 

Harkins is committed to keeping the money local and works with veterans and first responders daily. 

“We appreciate everything they do in our county. Our guys are top notch, we’re pretty blessed where we live,” Harkins said. 

He and Touville both encourage community members to take the time to appreciate individual veterans in their lives and communities as often as possible.