Retired Air Force Colonel Ken Rizer is a candidate for State Representative in District 68 for Marion, Bertram, and Ely here in Iowa.
He took it upon himself to hold a special event to honor veterans and their families May 23 that included presentations by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha).
In a phone call last week, he told me that the reason he felt compelled to gather people together for the tribute was because he knew first hand the hardships that veterans and their families had to endure while serving in the military. Not only did they have to relocate often, but they had to be separated from each other for long periods of time. It’s hard to maintain that family unit while being divided for so long.
Rizer said his wife told him she sometimes felt like a single parent. But together they made the choice to stay in the military, for Ken to serve the country. He said he realized how much his family was sacrificing, too.
Rizer was in the Air Force 25 years, including 2 one-year stints in Korea. The family relocated 16 times during that time; his son attended 19 different schools. It was hard on them, he said, but it also gave them the opportunity to experience different cultures and opportunities they may not have had if they stayed in one place.
During the tribute, Rizer told stories about veterans who were being honored that night, each from a different era; Curt Hames, a World War II veteran; Sergeant Richard Bice, honored for his service during the Korean War, Specialist Jim Felker for his service during the Vietnam Conflict, Corporal Rodney Summers who served during Desert Storm, and Lieutenant Commander Paul Pelletier, who served in the military during the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict. Governor Terry Branstad and Speaker Kraig Paulsen also served in the military; Branstad as an MP, and Paulsen as a missile officer.
Paulsen spoke to the crowd about the Home Base Iowa bill, which was signed into law by Branstad during a Memorial Day celebration at Camp Dodge.
The Home Base Iowa bill, a private-public partnership to recruit veterans and active duty service members for private-sector job opportunities in Iowa, means that Iowa is becoming more “Iowa-friendly.”
According to Paulsen, the bill sends a message that Iowa is open for veterans to come here,” to raise a family, and start a business if they want.
Gov. Branstad echoed the sentiments, that this law will show the nation that “we are committed to doing all we can to help veterans and their families.”
As it should be, considering all they sacrifice so the rest of us can be free.
Thank you to the service men and women of the United States armed forces, and their families, for giving so much, so freely.