Friday congressman Mike Gallagher honored three area veterans with prestigious medals.
But these veterans don’t want to be recognized for their service; they want the focus to remain on serving veterans who need help after returning from combat.
“It means a lot, you finally get recognized for something you worked so hard for for so long and for me it’s just another part of my military career,” says veteran honoree Richard Verheyen. “Receiving these, especially from Mike Gallagher, that’s a great honor for myself.”
Verheyen served in the army as a nuclear weapons specialist and eventually became a drill sergeant.
Years after his service, a fellow army member was deployed to Iraq.
“Every time we get back from deployment, our medals were usually done in a group and it was just handed out in a mass format, so being recognized for this as an individual, especially in the community that I’m in, means a lot,” says veteran honoree Matthew Kempainen.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Since the time their service has ended both have given back to the community.
Verheyen’s veteran’s hospice service group continues to grow.
“We started out with five volunteers and have 35 veteran volunteers now. They go around the 13 counties that Unity covers and we are volunteers for veterans that are in hospice care,” says Verheyen. “It’s been a very enjoyable heartwarming thing that we do.”
Kempainen works with the disabled american veterans charity.
“I continue my mission by just helping veterans in the community and being a state officer in the state, making sure that our veterans are not falling through the cracks and making sure their voices are being heard,” says Kempainen.
Both veterans received several medals, but a few that they both were honored with inlcude the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.