Corban Baker’s professional life has come full circle with his new position as outreach coordinator with
the Mahoning County Veterans Services Commission.
A former Marine, Baker was not one who, as young man, seemed destined to dedicate so much effort to
the military community.
“Even when I was little, I wanted nothing to do with the military or the Marines,” Baker said. “It was way
Then, came the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I was kind of revved up about that,” said Baker said, whose grandfather, Ron Brown, and two older
brothers, Shawn and Chris Baker, served in the military
Baker enlisted in November 2003, and went to Marine boot camp following his graduation from
Brookfield High School.
“I thought, if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna go all the way,” Baker said. “I joined the toughest, hardest
Baker became an avionics and weapons technician for F-18 fighter jets.
“Anything that made F-18s go where they needed to go, or any of the bombs, missiles, ordnance go where
the needed to go, I fixed it,” Baker said.
The job often was like serving on a NASCAR pit crew, he said. A pilot would signal a problem, Baker
would plug a computer in the plane and, if he could fix the problem quickly, he would.
Baker’s first deployment was on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Harry S Truman, spending six months in the
Arabian Gulf supporting operations in Fallujah, Iraq. He described working on an aircraft carrier as
“You had to have your head on a swivel at all times, or you’d get killed,” he said. “There’s jets landing,
there’s jets taking off, waves crashing over the boat, sometimes the sun’s beating down on you and
sometimes it’s freezing and there’s sleet and freezing rain. Not the best conditions to work in or fly in.”
Baker served six months in Korea and Japan, a low-key deployment, and then was sent to Iraq to work at
the airbase in Al Asad.
“The war had died down quite a bit at that point, that was 2008,” Baker said. “We didn’t do that many
combat missions, as we did on the aircraft carrier.”
However, they would get Iraqi combatants firing mortars into the base, and he carried a weapon at all
When Baker’s five years was up, he wanted to re-enlist and teach avionics, but there wouldn’t be a
teaching position available for a year, and he was likely to deploy again, he said. Considering that he had
deployed three times, which he said is unusually high for a four- or five-year enlistment, he decided,
“Uncle Sam got his money’s worth,” and he left. He was 23.
The federal government had recently improved G.I. benefits, and he found he could go to college tuition-free, and get paid while he was studying. Enrolling at Youngstown State University, Baker got a degree in
telecommunications, with a minor in theater, and performed stand-up comedy on the side. He went to
California to give performing a shot, and got a job at KMIR-TV in Palm Springs to supplement the
income he had from stand-up comedy and acting in commercials.
“You combine a military mindset with a northeast Ohio work ethic in southern California, oh my gosh, I
just worked my way all the way up,” he said of his time at KMIR.
He did everything from taking out the trash to directing, and then got a chance to go on air and started
reporting and anchoring the weekend newscast.
“I was happy there,” he said.
But, during a 2015 visit to the Mahoning Valley for a cousin’s wedding, his family and friends “just kind
of put the screws to us” to get a job back home, and he applied at WYTV-TV, Channel 33, where he
became lead anchor and news producer.
Baker enjoyed serving the valley, but earlier this year found himself ready for a change.
“With everything that’s happened over the last year and a half, I honestly, I got pretty burned out,” said
the married resident of Howland and father of a 6-month-old daughter.
He saw an opening at the Mahoning County Veterans Services Commission, and was hired as outreach
coordinator. The commission acts as a go-between for veterans and the U.S. Department of Veterans
“If you’re gonna go to court, you don’t wanna go without a lawyer,” he explained of the commission’s
role. “If the judge is the VA, you don’t wanna go straight to the judge. You wanna have that lawyer to
help you, tell you about the process and what to do, what paperwork to file.”
As outreach coordinator, “I go out to the community, build relationships with people, try to spread the
word about what we do here and be a mouthpiece and get the word out to more veterans,” Baker said.
He looks for community events where he can meet vets and talk about the services the commission
provides. He appeared at the Laying of the Roses to honor Vietnam vets at 1 p.m. Nov. 7 on the plaza in
Youngstown, and emceed the Mahoning County Veteran’s Day event in the courthouse.
Most of the commission employees are vets, and he finds the camaraderie and singularity of purpose at
the commission similar to what he experienced in the Marines.
“I love it,” Baker said. “I couldn’t be happier here.”
Each of Ohio’s counties has a veterans services commission, and Baker encouraged veterans to set up
appointments with a commission representative to learn about what services are offered and how the
commission can help them. Physical and mental ailments, even ones that seem like no big deal early on,
can worsen over time.
“Claim anything that you think, any injury or ailment that you think was caused by the military or
aggravated by the military, whether it be mental or physical or whatever, tell them about it, put your claim
in with the VA,” Baker said. “Keep fighting for those benefits that you’ve earned because you did earn