Born August of 1959 in Salem, Ohio, Valerie is the eldest of three daughters born to the late Merland M. Miller and Carol A. (Hostetter) Miller. Valerie's parents divorced while she was very young, she often talks with great fondness of her childhood years growing up with her mother and her stepfather the late Robert W. Starkey, whom she has always considered to be her father. The marriage of her mother to Robert brought with it a new little brother who was soon followed by another little sister.
The family settled in the historic town of Lisbon, Ohio the Fall of 1968 where she entered the third grade at McKinley Elementary and continued within the Lisbon Exempted Village School System. Valerie attended seventh and eighth grades at Lincoln Junior High and graduated from David Anderson High School in May of 1977. While attending the sixth grade at McKinley Elementary Valerie became associated with the Camp Fire Girls and eventually became a Girl Scout while attending Lincoln Junior High.
In September of 1977, Valerie enlisted into the U.S. Army and shipped out to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training where she trained initially as an Administrative Specialist. Over the next fourteen years Valerie enjoyed many travel opportunities throughout Europe, serving in countries such as Germany, France, Italy and Belgium. In addition to experiencing various places in the course of her duty assignments, Valerie took every opportunity to travel as a civilian throughout Europe, visiting additional counties such as Luxemburg, Scotland and England. Valerie also enjoyed opportunities to return to the United States, serving in both Alaska and Texas.
Throughout her tenure with the U.S. Army Valerie also had the opportunity to train and work in additional positions such as Personnel Records Management, Finance Specialist, Basic Combat Medic, U.S. Mail Guard and Postal Clerk, Security Police and Human Resource Management. Encouraged by her father Robert Starkey, Valerie continued her education as she traveled primarily throughout the United States as well as various classes through the U. S. Army Education Center’s affiliate program with Austin Community College. Valerie earned her Associates Degree in Personnel Administration in 1979 through Austin Community College in Texas where she also studied Applications in Theology and participated in various Humanitarian Studies.
Unable to obtain her desired transfer to the State of Alaska, Valerie followed her heart and decided not to extend her contractual obligation with the U. S. Army Regular Component. Returning to her home state of Ohio, she sold the greater majority of her household possessions and bought a ticket to Anchorage, Alaska. True to her personal convictions and adventurous spirit, Valerie enlisted in the Alaska Army National Guard and quickly applied for active duty. Within only a few months she was accepted as the Unit Administrator for HHD, 207th Infantry Group (Scouts) in Anchorage.
Being an outdoors person, she enjoyed every opportunity to go hunting and fishing as well as hiking through the many National Parks throughout the State of Alaska. Valerie’s competitive spirit brought new adventures such as serving as the Captain of the Combat Rifle Team, participating in various competitions throughout the State.
Valerie earned her Bachelor's Degree in Humanitarian Studies in 1984 through the Veteran's Education Affiliate Program located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. Additionally she attended the University of Alaska, majoring in Personnel and Business Administration with secondary studies in Information Systems Management. Valerie also continued with her personal interest in Theological studies through correspondence courses with Austin Community College.
Although she loved the State of Alaska, Valerie made the decision to return to the State of Texas. Opting for an interstate transfer, she departed Anchorage, Alaska for Austin, Texas and enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard. Valerie attended Southwest Texas State University and in 1991 she earned her Master's Degree in Business Administration. Unable to resist her first love, Valerie once again applied for an active duty position and found herself filling the position of the Unit Administrator and Human Resource Manager for HHC, 249th Support Battalion on Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. While serving in the Texas Army National Guard, she volunteered as a member of the Ceremonial Cannon Corps and served as a loader.
It was during this period of service in Texas that Valerie became very active with the local youth centers and worked with underprivileged youths as often as possible. Combining her love of horses and a sincere desire to provide a positive influence for those she encountered at the centers, Valerie introduced many of them to horseback riding as a volunteer equine riding instructor. It was through her interaction with various children and teens that Valerie once again became involved in the area of social services by volunteering with a local organization called the AWAKE Shelter (Aid to Women and Children in Crisis) that provided various services the victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse; ultimately becoming certified as a Counselor and Court Appointed Advocate for victims of Domestic Violence.
Unfortunately in 1992 Valerie was diagnosed with the advanced stages of Chondromalacia Patella Femoral Syndrome in her knees and was released from active duty. It was at this time that she met Michael Wayne Buchanan through her roommate in Austin, Texas, the two married in November of 1993 and remained married until Michael passed away in September of 2010. The two had made their home in Baytown, Texas where her husband’s family still lives until the Fall of 1999 when news of her mothers’ debilitating heart attacked forced them to relocated to her home State of Ohio in order to take care of her mother.
Valerie returned to the classroom briefly for the purpose of obtaining a certification in the field of Home Health Care in order to comply with insurance requirements. Upon completion she was appointed and recognized as her mothers’ home health care provider until she passed away in January of 2002.
During the time Valerie spent with her mother, they spent many hours talking about the many memories and good times with their large and quite extended family. Although very proactive concerning the use of new technology, Valerie has always valued the lessons of history and often cherished listening to the stories told by her grandparents and the older members of her family. It was during this time that the groundwork began for her current work regarding her family’s history. Devastated with her mothers’ passing, she put the project aside for a number of years before becoming very active in the genealogy of her family and began assembling the many photographs and stories remembered by her mother. Valerie created the Heritage House Legacy, a documentary about the history of her family and constantly refers to it as ‘a work in progress’ with sincere hopes that someday there will be someone who wants to pick up the pieces of the legacy and continue the story of her family.
During her research into the history of her family, Valerie became quite active with the local chapter of the National Historical Society and the Cemeteries Online Project. Both efforts are for the purpose of assisting future genealogist in searching out the history of their families. She enjoys the social activities that both of these groups provide and enjoys assisting as a volunteer photographer for the Cemeteries Online Project, concentrating primarily on those cemeteries where members of her family are buried.
Valerie has always placed a high value on education and in February of 2011 decided to return to school. Enrolling in the online program with Kaplan University, she has embarked on a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a scheduled graduation date of October 7th 2015, with plans to move directly into the Master’s program upon completion of this degree. Her 2011 academic achievements include membership in Kaplan’s Ambassadors’ and Leaders Program and membership in Theta Epsilon, Kaplan University’s Local Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society. She was invited and accepted membership in the Alpha Beta Kappa Honor Society in the Spring of 2012.
Although she has not yet received a degree in the field of Criminal Justice Valerie continues to work as a volunteer with a local group of concerned citizens who simply refer to themselves as Cyber Sleuths. Valerie first became aware of this group through her cousin, Chief Hauter who is the official face of what they all hope will become recognized as a legitimate law enforcement support group. Their mission is simply to identify, track and report online pedophiles to local authorities for apprehension and successful prosecution.
Valerie currently lives in her mothers’ home located in rolling hill country of Northeastern Ohio and enjoys the fact that she can travel to Pennsylvania in less than a half hour and be in West Virginia in just under an hour. Although she has no intentions of remarrying, she shares her home with her Significant Other Preston Jeffries and their two dogs Buckingham and Kohl.
While there are many chapters in her book, the rest of her story has yet to be written…
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