GARNER | Hancock County’s new Veterans Affairs director is hoping to bring stability to the department that connects area veterans and their families to medical, educational and financial resources.
Gerald Edgar, of Garner, said he’s the third person to hold the part-time position since November 2016. He started on Dec. 1.
“My goal is to make sure every veteran in Hancock County is aware of this office, is registered, and, God forbid, if they need help or their family does, they’re part of the system,” he said.
The Veterans Affairs office, which is overseen by the Hancock County Commission of Veterans Affairs, serves as the first point of contact for local veterans and their families seeking support through programs, services and benefits.
Edgar, a Vietnam War veteran and former Garner city administrator, said there are about 800 veterans in Hancock County and only 25 percent, or 200, are engaged with the Veterans Affairs office.
“I hope to meet all the veterans of the county one by one,” he said.
To do that, Edgar plans on attending as many civic group meetings he can in hopes their members will pass the word along and “empower veterans and their families in Hancock County to take advantage of the programs ... they have earned from their service in the military.”
Edgar served in the U.S. Air Force for about four years during the Vietnam War. After he was discharged from the military, he attended the University of Iowa, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and worked toward a master’s degree through the G.I. bill.
Before finishing his master’s degree, he got an industrial safety job at the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company in the Chicago area, where he also served as a city councilman for a decade. In 1990, Edgar became the Garner city administrator. He held the position until 1996, when he decided to return to his industrial safety career.
Edgar retired as the environmental health and safety officer for Mitas Tires North America, a tire manufacturing company in Charles City, in May.
He is a member of the Disabled Veterans of America and the American Legion as well as the vice chairman of the American Legion of Iowa Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission.
Edgar was also recently re-elected to a second term as chairman of the Iowa Board of Podiatry and Prosthetics. He is beginning his third three-year term on the board as a public member.
Since he started as the Veterans Affairs director, Edgar said he’s been “very well accepted,” and he looks forward to meeting more county veterans and their families in the future.
“I want to encourage them (to use the services) because they’ve earned it,” he said. “Our country is grateful for their service, and we want to help them and their families.”
The Veterans Affairs office is located in a building that houses the county’s public health and conservation offices at 545 State St. in Garner. Its hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays or by appointment.
For questions or more information, call the Hancock County Veterans Affairs office at 641-923-4427.