News Article

Caroline CASA honors armed forces veterans
November 15, 2023


By: Connie Connolly

CASA of Caroline welcomed veterans of the armed forces to its annual Veterans Day Heroes Breakfast Friday, Nov. 10, at the Denton Diner.

From a former corporal to a retired lieutenant colonel, local veterans enjoyed the free breakfast hosted by the nonprofit organization that “advocates for the best interest of all abused and neglected children who are in the Caroline County court system through no fault of their own,” according to

Executive Director Amy Horne welcomed about two dozen veterans. “Anybody who has had the courage to put on the uniform is a hero in my mind,” she said.

The 7:30 a.m. gathering began with a prayer led by Pastor Don Reynolds of Calvary Baptist Church in Denton. He is also a retired lieutenant colonel with the Maryland Army National Guard.

Horne read a lengthy statement from U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, who expressed his “profound admiration for the unwavering service and sacrifices of our veterans,” particularly recognizing Maryland veterans who have served in every armed conflict since the Revolutionary War.

Following a moving short video that depicted a military veteran, who is a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer, helping a young child. A few veterans wiped tears from their eyes.

“At CASA, we really want to honor and recognize our veterans because veterans are people who protect our freedoms, just like our advocates are the people who protect the rights of the children we serve,” Horne said.

She said her late father, Talbot County Circuit Court Judge William S. Horne, who was an Army veteran, helped bring the CASA program to the Eastern Shore in 1990.

Denton Town Councilman and former Marine Keith Johnson is also president of CASA of Caroline. After some good-natured ribbing of the other service branches, Johnson asked veterans to consider becoming CASA volunteers.

“Why is CASA, a child advocacy group, hosting a Veterans Day (event)?” he asked, answering the question by listing traits that correlate between veterans and CASA volunteers.

“Discipline, fighting spirit, leadership, resiliency. We see our veterans as difference-makers in the world. They’re mission-ready,” said Johnson, whose wife is CASA volunteer Stephanie Johnson.

“Being married to an advocate, I know that those traits overlap,” he said. “Our advocates make a difference every day, our staff makes a difference every day.”

“As a (Maryland State) trooper, I served about three years as the primary investigator for Caroline County for the Maryland State Police, dealing with child abuse, child neglect,” Johnson said. “There’s a need in our county for advocates because our children are underserved and our children live as victims of abuse and victims of neglect every day.”

Johnson appealed to the gathered veterans to consider becoming a CASA volunteer. “If you’re not an advocate, think about what you can do different this year,” he said. “The military focuses on protecting our country, while at CASA we want to protect tomorrow’s future — our children.”