Jackson County Veterans Service officer Marty Kimmel is leaving her post to take a job with the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs.

Jackson County Veterans Service officer Marty Kimmel is leaving her post to take a job with the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs.

But she will be working with local veterans, albeit on a broader scale. In her new position, Kimmel will work with veterans who are using the new GI Bill in Jackson, Josephine, Curry, Klamath and Lake counties. Her patrons will be any veteran going to any VA-approved university, college or school.

"I'll be doing what I do now — filing benefit requests for them and getting their claims processed," she explained. "I'll still be helping veterans to make sure they are getting the benefits they deserve."

The county veterans service office will remain open with three service officers on hand, she said.

"This office will continue to work really hard in making sure we serve veterans in a manner that is honorable — it will be fighting hard for them like it always has," said Kimmel.

Kimmel, who has worked at the office for more than 16 years, became county veterans service officer in early 2004. Since then, she has held quarterly ceremonies for veterans meriting medals that were lost, stolen or never issued because of a military snafu.

The last ceremony during her watch comes on her final day in the office. The ceremony is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Thursday with U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., conducting five presentations at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, 3101 McLoughlin Drive, Medford. The awards ceremony will be before Wyden's annual town hall meeting, which also will be held at the school.

"Veterans' issues has always been kind of a passion with me," said Kimmel, 54, a 1973 graduate of Crater High School. "My dad and my brothers were in the military.

"I was involved in MIA/POW issues when I was in high school," she added. "There was four or five of us who would write letters to make people aware of the MIAs and POWs. We all had brothers or family members over there."

Since she started working with veterans, Kimmel has seen the rewards of her labors.

"The other day I saw a (Vietnam War) veteran I helped when I started out here," she said. "Seeing him being chatty in a store after he was such a recluse when I first saw him was so inspirational. When I approached him, he thanked me for helping reconnect him with society.

"That reminded me that people can have an effect on other people," she added. "So many veterans have touched my life."

Her new job will put her in contact with the newest generation of veterans, those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"They will likely be younger, but I'd also love to see some of our older veterans on our campuses," she said. Some older veterans have yet to take advantage of their educational benefits.

"I'll miss the veterans as well as widows who came in here over the years," she said. "They are all special to me. It has been more than a job. It has been an honor to help veterans and their dependents in this valley."

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.