Jean Walker’s enthusiasm for volunteerism and honoring veterans has led her down a unique path. Within the past year she has become the Department President of the Minnesota American Legion Auxiliary and the Minnesota State President of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) and has taken upon herself, with the help of the members, to honor veterans through both organizations.
Jean Walker resides in Warren, MN with her husband John. She has one son Michael Blumberg who is married to Heather and together they share two children, Arietta and Bennett. She enjoys four-wheeling and ice fishing, but volunteering is her passion.
She is an active 25-year member of the Warren American Legion Auxiliary Unit #27. She became a member under her father Joseph Penk, a World War II Army Veteran. She proudly wears a pin with his Army photo everywhere she goes. It serves as a constant reminder of why she does what she does.
On the other side of her jacket is her American Legion Auxiliary pin which she chose to put all the emblems of the military on and two wings. One wing is to represent her grandson, Mason, who passed away the day of her Ninth District Testimonial and the other wing represents all of our veterans that have passed on. It’s evident after sitting and talking with Jean that she is extremely passionate about veterans and veteran’s affairs.
She became American Legion Auxiliary Department President this past summer and her term will end in July of 2019. Her focus this year, as Department President of the Minnesota American Legion Auxiliary, is “Who We Are, What We Do and Why We Matter!” She believes that we all matter and that we need to continue to advocate for our veterans, their families and our communities. As part of her year as Department President, Jean had to choose a project to work on during her term. Jean chose the Fergus Falls Veteran’s Home to help construct “Patriot’s Park.” The park includes a pond that allows veterans to race remote control boats. This gives them a fun activity to do outside the home. She hopes to raise $25,000 for her project. Most of the money raised will go towards making the pond accessible for everyone. It will include benches, bushes and vines growing over pergolas, a dock and finally, a large monument with matching granite benches. The monument will have three soldiers and the motto “NO ONE LEFT BEHIND” engraved in it with the emblems of all branches of service.
Jean has also chosen to honor veterans through her projects as GFWC State President. She was elected as president in April of 2018 and her term will end in 2020. She has also been an active member of the GFWC Mawami Club for 25 years too. The projects Jean has chosen to support are the Veterans Honor Flight of ND/MN and the Eagle’s Healing Nest.
The purpose of the Veterans Honor Flight of ND/MN is to take North Dakota and Minnesota veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials built in their honor. The flight transports veterans on a direct charter to Washington D.C. for a two-day journey to see the WII, Korean and Vietnam War memorials. Other sites visited include Arlington National Cemetery (with the changing of the guard ceremony), FDR Memorial, Iwo Jima, the National Archives, and a tour of the city. The Honor Flight is an all-expense paid trip for the veterans, but money is needed to send each veteran. The cost to send each veteran is $1,100. Jean is hoping to raise money to help send as many veterans as she can on this once-in-a-lifetime trip. Priority is given to WWII veterans who have not yet seen their memorial followed by Korean War Veterans and terminally ill veterans form any service era. If a veteran needs an escort to help with them, the escort must pay the $1,100 fee for themselves. If you would like to learn more about the Honor Flight program, or to donate, visit their website at www.veteranshonorflightofndmn.org.
The Eagle’s Healing Nest is “a non-profit organization committed to meeting the needs of [our] veterans, service members and their families who suffer from the invisible wounds of war.” The “nest” is a residential veterans campus where veterans of all ages are able to live for as long as they need and a place to help heal invisible wounds from war. The founder, Melony Butler says, “The idea is for them to have their own place to heal at their own pace. It’s not a shelter. It’s not a hospital or clinic. It’s their home, and they’re a family.” Veterans live together with others who are facing similar circumstances and work together to heal. The Eagle’s Healing Nest has become so successful that they now have two locations, Sauk Centre and Anoka, and are currently raising funds to build more to house the many veterans on waiting lists to join this program. For more information about the Eagle’s Healing Nest, to view their needs list or how to donate, visit www.eagleshealingnest.org.
Jean would like to thank her family, friends, the Warren community and coworkers, especially Brent and John at Evergreen, for their continued support during her time as American Legion Auxiliary Department President and GFWC Minnesota State President.
At the end of the day, it’s all about veterans for Jean. She has been traveling all over Minnesota meeting with veterans and hearing their stories. From her veteran father to veterans in Warren and surrounding areas, Jean does what she can do to honor and help them in anyway possible. Jean believes veterans deserve the very best and will continue to advocate for them.
If you have any questions about making a donation to any of Jean’s projects, you can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.