MOAA Member Inducted Into Florida Veterans Hall of Fame

MOAA Member Inducted Into Florida Veterans Hall of Fame
Col. Craig Ham, USA (Ret), far right, stands with his wife, Vicki, and Florida State Sen. Keith Perry, who nominated Ham for induction into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. (Courtesy Photo)

Submitted by Lt. Col. Carolyn A. Smith, USA (Ret), chaplain, Kingdom of the Sun Chapter


When Col. Craig Ham, USA (Ret), retired from the Army in 1995, he took less than a month off before accepting a teaching position with Forest High School in Ocala, Fla. Ham, who is a former professor and department head at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and has doctorate degree, was well qualified to teach chemistry and physics, which led to his development and implementation of the Engineering and Manufacturing Institute of Technology (EMIT), a magnet program for the school district.


After two years of operation, the program was selected as one of only four in the state of Florida to be highlighted in the Best Practices publication by the Southern Region Education Board. Over a nine-year period, the student enrollment in EMIT rose from 13 to almost 200 students. 


In addition to his teaching position, Ham served for 12 years as president of the Marion County Education Association and as the Florida state director of the National Education Association Board.         


[RELATED: More MOAA Members in the Spotlight]


While working in the Marion County School System, he became involved in several local programs for military veterans, including MOAA’s Kingdom of the Sun Chapter, where he served as vice president and was recently sworn in as the new president. In 2021, he received the Florida Council of Chapters’ Leadership Award for service to his peers. The next year, he was presented with the National Outstanding Eagle Scout Award by the North Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America.        


Ham has also served since 2018 as president of the Marion County Veterans Council, an organization that seeks to be a unified voice for more than 50 separate veterans’ organizations in Marion County. His goal is to improve support to the county’s 35,000 veterans. 


One of his most significant contributions has been managing the local "Stuff the Bus" initiative for the past seven years. A veteran-driven program that raises money for school supplies and backpacks for the county’s underprivileged children, it has thrived under Ham’s leadership, raising more than $80,000 last year, for a total of 2023 backpacks presented to 45 Marion County schools. “The program is an effort by local veterans to give back to the community,” Ham said.


[RELATED: Chapter’s ‘Stuff the Bus’ Program Fills Over 2,000 Backpacks for Local Schoolchildren]


In recognition of his many contributions to his state, Ham was a 2023 inductee into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. He was nominated by Florida State Sen. Keith Perry. Ham was unaware of the nomination until he received a phone call in September notifying him he had been accepted for induction. The ceremony was held in November.


“I am deeply honored to join this special class of Florida veterans,” Ham said.


Want to Help Servicemembers in Your Community?

Learn how you can make a difference with your local chapter.

Get Involved Go Virtual