Recently retired Army National Guard veteran now leading county’s veterans services office

Published 10:20 am Thursday, July 14, 2022

By Marissa Hanson

Jeff Dahlen, an Albert Lea graduate and current Freeborn resident, is the new veterans services officer of Freeborn County. 

“The officer helps veterans navigate veterans affairs and apply for benefits,” Dahlen said.

Dahlen is a recently retired Army National Guard veteran who walked into the office at the Freeborn County courthouse not too long ago looking for help himself. 

When he was in the office the officer at the time talked to Dahlen about applying for the officer position.

“I researched and found out what it was, and it really made sense to me,” Dahlen said. “All of my military career I have been helping and advising soldiers, so why not continue this service-oriented career field by helping out veterans who have served? 

“I really like that I get to continue to interact with veterans and continue to assist them.”

Dahlen joined the Army National Guard in 1991 and retired in 2022 with the title of sergeant first class. He has spent time deployed on full-time active guard in Albert Lea, Mankato, Owatonna and St. Paul and has been deployed five times overseas, including in Saudi Arabia, Kosovo twice, Kuwait and Iraq, and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. He finished his career at the Joint Operation Center in Saint Paul, working as the interagency liaison. There, he worked on the civilian and military connection, specifically deployment of the National Guard to disasters in the state. 

Although Dahlen is a retired Army National Guard man, he continues to serve his community in other ways. 

“I am a volunteer fireman, volunteer EMT, Legion commander in the city of Freeborn and the chair of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon for the Freeborn area,” Dahlen said. 

Dahlen is also in the process of getting the word out about a new legislation passed that is the first service bonus that includes post 9/11 veterans, he said.

The application period began on July 7 and will be open until June 30, 2024, unless the funds run out before then. 

Veterans, currently serving service members, veterans’ beneficiaries or guardians and conservators or legally appointed personal representatives are all eligible to apply. There are three tiers of the service bonus: $600, $1,200 and $2,000. 

What tier someone belongs to is based on what they did in their military career. 

The online application is at VetServiceBonus.mdva.mn.gov. For more information or to apply, visit: MinnesotaVeteran.org/ServiceBonus.