Veterans Day offers Americans time each year to reflect on the service and sacrifices that our veterans, reminding us of the freedoms and values we might take for granted other days. This is the week for us to pay our respects to those who have served and stand united in respect for our veterans. That is why today, I rise to honor a veteran who is a shining example of what it means to serve both in uniform and in his community. I am proud to recognize Bernie Stone as Iowan of the Week.
Bernie is the City Leader and Co-Founder of the Des Moines Chapter of Bunker Labs where he equips, mentors, and connects veterans and military spouses with resources to get them on the path to a successful business. He loves to help people achieve their goals and strives to help veterans find meaning and purpose after service. Bunker Labs is a national network of veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs dedicated to helping the military connected community start their own business. They are committed to seeing that every entrepreneur in the military-connected community has the network, tools, and resources they need.
Bernie moved to Des Moines in 2015 after a 20-year Army career that ended at the Pentagon, where he served as a Russian affairs specialist. Throughout his military career Bernie gained high-level experience in foreign affairs and national security policy as well as extensive overseas experience in Europe, Central Asia, and East Asia. He has served in five U.S. Embassies and was awarded the Medal of Merit from the Republic of Lithuania.
Bernie served our nation with honor and distinction. When he retired from military service and began the transition back into civilian life, he was surprised and disappointed to discover how difficult it was to find meaningful employment that would put his skills to use. Veterans find themselves in this circumstance all too often after service. In the face of that challenge, Bernie dedicated his skills to Bunker Labs so other veterans could overcome the same obstacle.
Organizations like Bunker Labs and advocates for helping veterans gain meaningful employment and professional opportunity after military life show that our veterans have the grit, skills, and work ethic that can help any business grow and compete. It is important to thank veterans for their service and honor them with events and national observances, and even more important to help them find health, happiness, and success when they come home. I am committed to making sure our military families can reintegrate into civilian life, and I will continue to fight for legislation that ensures that our nation’s veterans are taken care of.
Thank you to Bernie and all of our veterans who have dedicated their lives to serving this great nation. It is my honor to recognize you as Iowan of the Week.