Veterans Officer Retiring After 37 Years

Posted at: 07/02/2013 5:29 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- For nearly four decades he's been a source of help and friendship for countless Freeborn county veterans. But now it's time for Jon Rhiger to move on to the next chapter of his life.

"Everybody says the first week or two is like you are on vacation, and it doesn't really sink in until after that," Jon Rhiger told us.

It’s hard to change your habits after a career that has spanned 37 years.

"When I first started there were still some Spanish American veterans still living in the community," Rhiger recalled.

Jon Rhiger is the Freeborn County Veteran's Service Officer.  "World War I vets, of course, World War II, Korea, Viet Nam and since then of course Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

And much has changed in the past 37 years.

"Automation has played a big, big part in the changes that we see all the time. Everything is instantaneous these days as far as information," Rhiger said. “The disabilities -- we're probably seeing more service-related disabilities these days."

But over the years, the basic needs of veterans haven't changed much.

"I would say in general, yeah, usually housing and education," Rhiger said.

And there’s been a positive change over the years: “I think the public in general is much more supportive these days than they ever were before."

Jon Rhiger ends his 37 year career when he retires on Friday, and Tuesday morning he was honored by the Freeborn County Board for his years of service. And even then, he said the credit belongs to the veterans themselves: “I just think that we owe them everything for our freedom. Everything we can possibly do for the  veteran and their dependents we should do and continue doing."