STURGIS — Meade County is seeking a new Veterans Service Officer and Emergency Manager with the departure of Doug Huntrods.
Huntrods didn’t go far. He is the new Emergency Management Specialist at Fort Meade VA Medical Center in Sturgis.
“It’s really about career progression. I’m stepping up into a federal role as an emergency manager,” said Huntrods, who began his new position this week.
As the Emergency Management Specialist for the VA, Huntrods will manage the health care system’s comprehensive emergency management program.
Huntrods said he is responsible for preparing for and carrying out or coordinating emergency functions to prevent, protect from, mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters.
He also develops and coordinates all VAMC (Veterans Administration Medical Centers) emergency plans and exercises while at the same time collaborating with community partners on those plans.
Huntrods began with Meade County in 2018. He came to Sturgis after holding the same position in Lake County near Sioux Falls.
Huntrods said there is a natural connection between those who have served in the military and emergency managers.
“A lot of people who have been in the service worked with disasters, war, and high-stress situations. Most of them have dealt with communications, which is a big aspect of emergency management,” he said.
In his last few years in the military, Huntrods was very involved in creating and managing emergency exercises.
As Veterans Service Officer (VSO) for Meade County, Huntrods advocated for more than 3,000 veterans. The county has asked the state VSO to come in to help in the interim before another VSO/emergency manager can be hired.
Jerry Derr, Meade County commission assistant and human resources director, said the state VSO representative will have office hours on Mondays and Fridays.
“I’ve been in contact with the state to make sure we have continued services,” Derr said.
Derr also said that he would serve as the point of contact with the state and the Red Cross for any emergency situations that could arise. And, Huntrods has the go-ahead from his new employer to help with the emergency operations center which is traditionally set up during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Derr said.
The vacant position was posted Monday and already Derr said he had five applicants.
“We want to fill it as quickly as possible,” he said.
Huntrods grew up on a small farm outside of St. Charles in southern Iowa near the Bridges of Madison County and John Wayne’s birthplace. He attended Iowa State University earning a bachelor of science degree in fisheries & wildlife biology and graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate. He was commissioned as an Army Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery.
He started a 22-year military career at Fort Sill, Okla., in 1990. Huntrods’ duty stations included the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Cambell, Ky., 2d Infantry Division in South Korea, the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., as well as assignments in Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, and California.
He has served as a commander at Battery, Company, and Battalion levels, other leadership positions and on various battalion and division staffs in plans and operations.
Retiring from the Army in 2012, Huntrods settled in Madison, where he served as Emergency Management and Veteran’s Service Officer. He served Lake County residents in those roles from 2014 until assuming the same roles in Meade County in March 2018.
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