Magazine
 

A Commitment to Service
By: Lena Basha
Volume 142, Number 1, January/February 2008, Page 4

Growing up in a small town in Iowa, Jodi Tymeson always knew the importance of serving her country. As a child, she listened intently when her grandfather, who served in the trenches during World War I, entertained her with stories of his service. And she watched her father, brother and three uncles give their time to the Iowa Army National Guard on the weekends.

So, in 1974, when her plans to become a teacher were derailed because of a temporary glut in the profession, she knew exactly what to do: She decided to serve her country by enlisting in the National Guard. Last October, after serving for 33 years, Brigadier General Tymeson retired as one of the highest-ranking women in the Iowa Army National Guard.

“My decision to join was the basis for so many things in my life,” she says.

If she hadn’t joined the Guard, for example, she never would have married her husband, John, a Vietnam War veteran she met during her enlistment. And if not for the Guard, she never would have had the initiative to run—and win—a seat in the Iowa House of Representatives. Now in her fourth term, Mrs. Tymeson has served Iowa’s 73rd District since 2001.

“I have always enjoyed helping people and solving problems, but I certainly never envisioned running for public office,” she says. “But the Guard opened my mind to that possibility. I felt like it had given me the right education and the right experience to be a good decision maker.”

In addition to sitting on the Education, Ethics, Government Oversight and Labor committees, Mrs. Tymeson is currently ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, a position that she’s honored to hold.

“It’s important to me because of my family history, but it’s also important to Iowa,” she says. “We have a workforce shortage here in Iowa, and veteran experience is what we need. Veterans certainly have a work ethic that our employers are looking for. So we’re trying to make Iowa an attractive place for them to live. We’re trying to add on to the educational benefits young veterans who are out of the military would get if they came here. We also have a new homebuyers’ program for Iraq War veterans that has been very successful.”

Mrs. Tymeson also champions patriotism in the Iowa Legislature, recently sponsoring a bill that would require the Pledge of Allegiance in all Iowa classrooms.

“I am very concerned that today’s children aren’t learning the pledge or that they don’t know the importance of putting their hands over the heart when they recite it,” she says. “These issues are important to address for the future of our country.”

Encouraging patriotism is a goal she shares with her fellow DAR members in the De Shon Chapter, Boone, Iowa. Mrs. Tymeson joined the DAR in 1996 at the urging of her mother. “I hadn’t thought about joining because I had so many other things going on in my life at the time, but I’m so glad I did,” she says. “The DAR stands for everything I think is important and everything I enjoy. I’m hoping now that I’m retired from the Guard I will have the time to make my involvement a priority.”

In particular, Mrs. Tymeson is excited to help her chapter restore an old country school. “It’s a school that’s in disrepair, so we want to move it and preserve it because country schools are such an important part of our history as a state and a country,” she says.

Mrs. Tymeson also hopes retirement allows her to break in the RV she and her husband purchased last year. Their goal is to visit National Parks and NASCAR tracks across the country. They better get started: Mrs. Tymeson has decided to run for re-election again this year, and campaigning will start soon.

Photo Credit: Gary Fandel
 

 
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