Caleb S. Cage: Meet vet advocate Ron Gutzman
February 24, 2013
One of the best things about my job is that I get to meet and work with so many great veterans in our state and across the country. I find myself inspired by their experiences, encouraged by their dedication, and driven to follow in their footsteps of continued service. One Nevada veteran who exemplifies all of these attributes is Carson City’s own Ron Gutzman, who I got to know very well as a wonderful leader within Nevada’s veteran community.Like many who live in our state, Ron is not a native Nevadan, but his life and contributions to our state make him a valued citizen of our state. Ron was raised in South Dakota, where he also received his early education. He was even a math teacher in Hurley, S.D., for a time, before his career led him further west and southwest. The first time Ron worked in Nevada was in the mid-to-late 1960s when he served as a math teacher for the Clark County School District. In the middle of his time with the school district, Ron would go to obtain a graduate degree from the University of New Mexico, with some studies at Northern Arizona University. By 1969, his talents in the classroom and academic credentials were recognized to such a degree that he was chosen to serve as the mathematics consultant for the Nevada Department of Education. He served in this position for more than two decades, which is how he and his family wound up in Carson City.You’d never hear any of the impressive details of Ron’s life just by talking to him. He certainly is not afraid to let his opinion be known, but he is not one to brag or promote himself in any way. Once you get to know Ron, though, you would probably conclude that a large part of what led him from being an educator in South Dakota to serving at the highest level of Nevada’s education system was his service in the U.S. Marine Corps.Ron served in the Marine Corps from 1954 to 1957 in the area of air traffic control. After a year of military schooling he served overseas, one year in Korea, then almost another year in Japan. After his time overseas, he returned to California to finish his enlistment.Soon after his separation from the military, Ron was diagnosed with a disability connected to his military service. Because it was a service-connected disability, Ron was eligible for treatment in the VA hospital, where he became very familiar with the health care available for veterans. That led him to learn more about the opportunities available to veterans for occupational training and higher education. As he retired from the education system, he decided that he needed to be a part of the effort to inform veterans of the benefits that are available to them. Ron has been retired from teaching for more than 20 years now, and much of his community involvement revolves around his vast service within the veteran community in our state. Ron is a lifetime member of three veteran service organizations, the Disabled American Veterans, the Marine Corps League, and the American Legion, and he holds or has held leadership positions in most. His broadest service has been with the American Legion, though, where he has served as a commander from the post level all the way up to the department level. He also served as the national executive committeeman for the better part of the last decade as well. Ron has also been a member of the Veterans Services Commission, which is appointed by the governor.Ron’s rsum of veteran leadership roles is impressive, but it does not tell the whole story of what he has done and continues to do for veterans. In addition to participating in the various programs sponsored by the American Legion and other groups, Ron is a tireless advocate for veterans in our state and around the country. He heads up his organization’s legislative effort and works to ensure that the focus remains on providing the highest level of service to Nevada’s veterans as well, especially through our nursing home, service officer, and cemetery programs here at the state level. I’ve seen him help veterans of every generation access their benefits. I’ve seen him call for more attention to important issues across the state. And I’ve seen him go well above and beyond to serve a veteran who is in need. Mostly, though, I’ve seen a leader of the veteran community, one that inspires me, encourages me, and drives me to ensure that we are serving Nevada’s veterans to the highest degree possible.• Caleb S. Cage is the executive director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services, appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. You can read his blog at http://veterans.nv.gov/blog.