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Farmington resident Dan Jordan is there to help veterans

Farmington resident Dan Jordan served two tours in Iraq before taking a job at the Veterans' Home in Hastings.

When Dan Jordan started his new job earlier this month, he had some big shoes to fill. He inherited a full calendar, too.

Jordan started his new post as volunteer service coordinator at the Minnesota Veterans Home-Hastings on Jan. 3, replacing Roy Bressler, who held the position for more than 20 years.

Bressler is well known among veterans groups in the area - he was the one to set up all of the fundraising events that went on at the vet's home and scheduled activities for the residents there. He was the contact person. He was the volunteer coordinator. And then he retired.

So, Jordan has his work cut out for him. He's got dozens of veterans' service groups to get involved with. He's got hundreds of people to meet and countless activities to plan. But he's not worried. He believes he's more than ready to take on the challenge.

A Farmington resident, Jordan recently retired after serving more than 20 years in the National Guard. He was deployed to Iraq twice, and a possible third deployment was looming when he decided it was time to serve in a different way.

In a way, he's still serving his country. Only now, he's serving the vets home residents -men and women who have served in the US military.

A volunteer

The concept of being a volunteer is nothing new to Jordan. He's worked with Farmington's Warrior to Citizen group, and he's done lots of volunteer work and organized fundraisers for National Guard projects. He's worked with the American Legion and the VFW, as well.

"You know, it's kind of nice. The volunteer part is kind of natural. Either you have it, or you don't," he said. "I guess I have it. Plus, being deployed a couple of times, you've been on the receiving end of getting things sent to you, so you know how important that is, too."

He came across the volunteer service coordinator posting while looking for jobs on the State of Minnesota's web site. The vets home in Hastings is one of several associated with the Minnesota Veterans Homes system. As he read through the qualifications - at a very minimum, the qualified candidate had to have served in the US Armed Forces - he knew he was the man for the job.

"Everything in the position was something that I felt I had a good background in," he said, "so I applied."

Making connections

The past few weeks in his new job have included "lots of bouncing from here to there" and "trying to learn a little as we go," he said. There's likely a few more weeks of that schedule in the coming months, too.

Since every site in the Minnesota Veterans Home system has a volunteer services coordinator, Jordan has others he can bounce ideas off of or get advice from. And, he figures there are enough folks out there who have worked with the Hastings home that can give him a few pointers.

"There are just endless possibilities to this position that can do a lot of good for the residents here," Jordan said.

The nature of his job puts him in the public quite a bit. He's trying to get around to meet people in all of the veteran's organizations out there, from the American Legion and VFW to the Order of the Cooties, Disabled American Veterans and Order of the Purple Hearts.

Making connections is important for Jordan in his role, because much of what happens at the Hastings home happens because people volunteer and donations are made. For instance, the Third District of the Department of Minnesota American Legion (which includes Hastings, Farmington and Rosemount) has been working for the past two years to buy new televisions for every room in the home.

"I basically will work with all of those groups to get the donations we need to keep the various programs in the home going," he said.

Then there are the activities that go on in the building - regular Bingo games and parties for residents, crafts and many other activities are scheduled on a weekly basis. Those activities rely on volunteers to run them.

As he gears up for this weekend - the annual venison feed is set for Friday and there's a Bingo party set for Sunday - Jordan is quick to point out that volunteers are essential to making the area veterans home run smoothly.

"To pay a staff for the that volunteers do for the home would be off the charts," he said. "There are so many people who will actually physically come to the home to help, if you'd sit down and tally up all the volunteer hours ... it's amazing. We couldn't do it without them."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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