Less than a year after breaking ground, the Rockford lot is now a home. That home has been purchased by Jonathan and Kami Hampton of Piqua, who along with their son will soon make the move to the welcoming village of Rockford.
Staff Sergeant Jonathan Hampton is a recruiter for the Ohio National Guard and his wife Kami is a nurse’s aide. They recently welcomed their first child, Michael, who will soon be one year old. Although neither Jonathan nor Kami is from the Mercer County area, they’re very much looking forward to making their home in Rockford. As Jonathan explained, they’re small town people at heart.
“That’s why I like Rockford – it’s a country town,” he said. “I grew up on a hog farm so I’m more of a rural person anyways.”
The Hamptons’ new home is located near the scenic Shane’s Park. It’s the perfect fit for a young family, with a splash pad in easy walking distance. The location is also perfect for Jonathan’s recruiting duties. He’s based in St. Marys but his recruiting area includes Van Wert, Mercer, and Auglaize Counties.
“I currently live in Miami County and I thought it would be more beneficial if I could be located within my recruiting area,” he said.
Jonathan first heard about Lots for Soldiers through board member Jennifer Barciz. She stopped by his office to enquire about putting up a poster for Silent 22, a veteran support group that meets the 22nd of each month at the Lots For Soldiers office. When the two got to talking about Lots for Soldiers, Jonathan was intrigued.
“At first I thought it was too good to be true,” he said. “Then I did some research and spoke with Homer [Burnett, Lots For Soldiers co-founder]. Homer and [his wife and Lots For Soldiers co-founder] Carol really talk the talk and walk the walk.”
Although originally interested in settling in Celina, he and Kami toured the Rockford house and thought it would be a great fit – as well as a great deal.
Jonathan is no stranger to Rockford. He recruits out of Parkway High School and said he’s always thought the area was a great place.
“I really, really like the area. It’s just a cozy, homey town, you know?” he said.
He has been based in St. Marys for the past year but has worked as a recruiter since 2014. He became interested in the career path thanks to the man that recruited him into the National Guard in 2008.
“Pretty much since day one that’s what I’ve wanted to try to become,” he said. He explained that his recruiter told him it was a very rewarding career path.
After seven years recruiting, has he found it to be so?
“Absolutely,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any better feeling. It is stressful, the job is very stressful at times. But I don’t think there’s any other feeling that compares to being able to help someone enlist in the military and just see the transformation and the maturity that they gain. … To see [recruits] come back and have their family thank you for changing their lives, it’s very rewarding. I try to play a part and help them.”
Some may think that the job of recruiting is an easy one. This is not the case, his wife Kami explained.
“He never has set hours. You never know if he’s leaving at 4 a.m. for work or getting home at 9 p.m.,” she said. “Even though he’s a recruiter for the military he has a very dangerous job. And it’s hard to have a life together due to that and never [being able to] plan anything in advance.”
Part of the danger comes from one of the National Guard’s main purposes: to protect the community and state. In the event of a national disaster or emergency (like riots), the governor of Ohio can activate the guard. For example, the Ohio National Guard was called to New Orleans to help deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. More recently, they were asked to aid local law enforcement in policing the Republican National Convention held this past year in Cleveland.
Jonathan has also been deployed during his time with the National Guard. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and spent ten months overseas. The stark contrast between the two countries left a lasting impression.
“The biggest thing is … a lot of people take a lot of our freedoms for granted, I’ll just say that. Not a lot of people realize how good they have it here in the United States. Because there are a lot of countries out there that don’t even have a fraction of what we have. When you’re driving down the road seeing houses built out of mud and sticks, and those are the upper class homes, that’s pretty wild,” he said. “With no sanitary regulations, no road rules, things like that – it’s kind of like the Wild West.”
He deployed with a unit out of Marion, his hometown, meaning he knew most of the people he went overseas with. The National Guard gave them time to prepare with their unit, which allowed them to build comradery, he explained.
“It was pretty wild when we got over there with the drug cartels and Taliban, some really crazy experiences. But we all came back and that’s what matters the most,” he said.
Despite the risk and the difficulty in leaving family, Jonathan said he would deploy again if need be.
“To serve the country,” he said, “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
However, he said the benefit of the National Guard is that you can remain local for the most part.
“It’s not like you’re going every two to three years to a new duty location, you’re in serving your community and state,” he explained. “That’s why a lot of rural people like to join the National Guard because they get to stay at home and farm, and on the weekend go and serve their country.”
Hampton said the steady nature of the job and his location allows him to build relationships with his recruits.
“Once we become a recruiter, it’s not like a duty station like the other branches. You’re there until you quit or retire from the military. And part of being a recruiter for the National Guard is that it’s your job to counsel your recruits even after they get through basic training,” he said. “It’s a long-lasting relationship. That’s why a lot of National Guard recruiters also include career counselor as their job title because that’s pretty much what we are.”
In a strange coincidence, the Hampton’s new home in Rockford has a connection to one of Jonathan’s recruits. He said that while walking with Homer Burnett on a tour of the backyard and Shane’s Park, he saw a tree with the name “Logan Felver” on it. Having just enlisted a Logan Felver the month prior, he enquired about the tree and found out that it had been dedicated in Logan’s honor by his grandmother.
“I did feel like it was a sign that we had the right house,” he said.
Homer Burnett praised the generosity of the community and expressed his gratitude for Jonathan’s service.
“Lots For Soldiers is extremely pleased to witness another community unite to express their gratitude to a soldier for his service and sacrifice in protecting our rights and freedoms. It was humbling to chronicle all the donors and volunteers as the house build progressed,” he said. “Thanks go out to the citizens and companies of Rockford for opening your hearts and expressing your appreciation not only to SSG Jonathan but to his family who also serve. The Hampton family will be a very beneficial addition to Rockford and its citizens.”
For more information on Lots for Soldiers, please explore our website. If you or someone you know is a current member or veteran of the armed forces, we’re always looking for new lot applicants. It’s our way of saying thank you for your brave service.