Chamber honors supporter of local military bases


More than three decades of public service coupled with ongoing activities that help the community, earned retired Army Brig. Gen. Joe Oder the Destin Chamber of Commerce Retired Military Person of the Year 2012.

The award was presented recently by the Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee.

Retired Air Force Col. Kim Wintner, chairman of the committee and a former recipient of the award, presented the honor to Oder.

“We’re looking for someone who contributes to the community and supports the local military bases,” said Wintner.

Oder fit the bill nicely.

The focus of Oder’s volunteer work is Fisher House of the Emerald Coast on Eglin Air Force Base across the street from the hospital.

Fisher House is a place where active-duty or retired servicemen can stay while they receive treatment at Eglin hospital.

The facility, which operates on donations, also accommodates families of the servicemen, so they’re not separated and less strained financially.

“I tell you, it’s heart-warming when you go over there to visit the families,” said Oder. He is a Fisher House board member and past president of the board.

He added Fisher House has helped approximately 100 families since opening in September 2010.

Oder’s community involvement includes helping establish a local chapter of the Association of the United States Army, something possible because of the Base Realignment and Closure process that brought the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) to Eglin.

The 67-year-old retired brigadier general has roots in the local private sector, working in the defense industry. He also is a consultant for an environmental services company.