(Seguin) -- Guadalupe County's new Veterans Service Officer is officially in training. The Guadalupe County Commissioners Court earlier this month appointed United States Air Force Veteran Marisela Gonzales to the position. Gonzales, on Monday, began her in-training appointment with Retiring Veterans Officer Bill MacAllister.
Gonzales will be working with MacAllister through the end of the year. Applauding her appointment is Terri Herrle, president of the auxiliary unit for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Herrle, who sat on the selection committee, says Gonzales was no doubt the top person for the job.
"The basic parameters were the appointment needed to be either a veteran, a Gold Star family member or a spouse of a disabled veteran or a veteran and she filled all those categories 100 percent. She just checked all the boxes off," said Herrle.
Gonzales, who brought home medals for a pair of combat deployments to Afghanistan and Kuwait, is excited about getting to work. Gonzales, who served the country between Aug. 2001 to July 2014, says it is her honor to be an official voice for the veterans in this community.
"I'm looking forward to being a veteran, being in the volunteer services for veterans for over five years, both active duty reserve -- my 14 year in military, my education, this is what I live for. This is my dream job. Everybody gets their chance in life and this is mine and to show the strength of Guadalupe County and the veterans, they need someone in their corner and we're here to do that," said Gonzales.
Gonzales, prior to this new position, has already been illustrating her passion to work for veterans. Gonzales says there are always needs to be met for each individual.
"I've been a volunteer in an organization. It's a non-profit organization in Austin, Cedar Park. It's called Heroes Night Out. Pretty much if a veteran, it doesn't matter what they need, if they walk in those doors, we'll give them either the services they need or point them to the right direction. Not just point, guide them. That's the important thing. Those are all experiences, the good, the bad, because nothing's ever always good. It's being able to put that front, get them what they need. Get them the services, the help, the support, just the love, the compassion. Veterans, each case, is different. So doing that, going to school. -- I got my undergrad at DeVry (University). I went to Keller Graduate School of Management. I went for a bachelors degree and came out with two master degrees. Thank goodness for that post 911 GI Bill. But I've been doing that. I've been enjoying volunteering as much as I can because again, this is something that I love to do. Now, being able to be offered a position is just even more," said Gonzales.
Greg Seidenberger, Guadalupe County Commissioner Pct. 1, says he too is excited about welcoming Gonzales to the county. He says he believes she will improve the everyday lives of local veterans.
"Well, I believe she's going to be a real asset to the veterans in our county. We have almost 22,000 veterans. They need help in many different ways, filling out paperwork, answering questions, finding out what their benefits are, what they qualify for. She is very well versed in those benefit programs. She's a very smart, articulate, innovative person. I think she's going to be an asset to the community. She’s already delineated several ideas that she's had about going to the vendors and businesses in our community and getting them to support the programs for our veterans. I think we're going to see a really different approach to serving our veterans from her. Marisela is going to be just a really really firecracker and she's going to be a wonderful asset to our veterans in this community," said Seidenberger.
Gonzales says she understands the importance of doing her best with the job and is commitment to being very visible throughout the community.
"My personal goal is to be accessible 24/7. Most people say 'it's a job. It's a Monday through Friday (job).' No, this is my life. I'm accessible 24/7. Whether it's a crisis or not a crisis or whether it's just a veteran in need, it's very important to put that up front knowing that I want every single Guadalupe veteran to be able to know that they have someone or someplace to go for answers regardless of the question," said Gonzales.
Herrle says she encourages area veterans to reach out to Gonzales and welcome her to the new position.
"I want them to know why we picked the best possible candidate and she has a passion for taking care of our veterans and their families. I don't think we could ask for anybody better to do the job," said Herrle.
Gonzales, who was stationed out of Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, is married to Seguinite Dominick Gonzales. The couple has three children.
Her appointment as an in-training officer began Monday and will continue through Dec. 31.