ROCHESTER, Minn. - Local veteran Jennifer Shumaker is being recognized by the national Veterans of Foreign Wars #StillServing campaign. The campaign highlights veterans who continue to serve in their communities after active duty.
Shumaker served in the Minnesota Army National Guard for 27 years and was a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
After retiring from the Minnesota Army National Guard, Shumaker now continues to serve in a different way. She's a veteran services officer for Olmsted County, helping veterans get their benefits. "I just think it's really important they get what's due to them and what's been promised to them when they enlisted," she says. She co-hosts the Disabled American Veterans Deer Hunt, the DAV Women Veterans Gala, and leads a monthly PTSD support group.
"She just does everything. She did for me, she does for every single vet that comes to her. She's a can-do girl and there is no retreating her," says Commander James Crawley of the VFW Post 1215. "She's dedicated 110%. She makes it happen."
She actively serves in the DAV and VFW for the state, district, and local post, where she is able to advocate for veterans in the legislature. She tells KIMT it took her a while to figure out that helping veterans is her passion, but now it's all she wants to do.
Service comes naturally to Shumaker, which is why she tells KIMT she was surprised but honored to be recognized by the national VFW. "Because that's how I spent my life. That's how I spent my adult life over 20 years in service, so I think that's the language I speak and it just comes second nature for me. It's a lot of fun doing that as well and being around your comrades," she explains.
Shumaker also feels it's important for her to speak out as a woman veteran and a part of a younger generation of vets. She encourages anyone else getting out of active service to get involved as she has. "When you leave service, you have all that camaraderieship in service and youre always with your battle buddies and you're living right next door to them and when you get back out in the civilian world, it's not the same. It's a very different dynamic, so I say get involved," she says.