Jennifer Antle will be leaving her job as executive assistant to the CEO at Lake District Hospital to fill the role of Lake County veteran services officer. She will be taking over for Charlie Pike, who is retiring. Antle said she has enjoyed her time at the hospital, but after seven and a half years she is ready for something new.
Antle started her new job on Tuesday, Nov. 23. As Pike’s last day as veteran service officer is Tuesday, Nov. 30, Antle will have a week of on-the-job training with him.
Antle said she had been contemplating a career change and was planning to go to nail school when she saw the veteran services officer position advertised in the Examiner. After she “did some soul searching,” she decided to apply.
Antle is a US Marine Corps veteran, her husband Dan was in the Marine Corps for 22 years and her son Loagen is currently enlisted in the Marines.
Recalling her decision to join the military, Antle explained that when she was in high school, the school counselor would sit down with students to help determine the path they should pursue after high school. She knew she was not ready for college. The counselor told her that the school had not had a female sign up for the Marines in 12 years.
“I had to do something others hadn’t done,” Antle said, so she decided to join the Marines. She had to get her parents’ permission as she was only 17. When word got around about her enlistment, she said everyone who knew her was shocked. “I was a mouthy, very outspoken teenage girl,” she described. But others’ doubts that she would make it through boot camp further fueled her fire to succeed.
Through her and her husband’s experience with their own claims, Antle said she has dealt with VA claims extensively. She said she understands the VA can be “a nightmare to navigate” and she is excited to help other veterans understand what services they qualify for.
In addition to her personal experience as a military veteran, spouse and mother, Antle also has a legal background which she believes will be helpful in her new role. She worked for two years as a legal secretary and ten years as a paralegal before moving to Lakeview. She used her GI bill to get her associate degree in paralegal studies.
One of her primary goals as veteran services officer will be expanding outreach, she said. Antle has already had some veterans she knows reach out and ask for assistance after hearing she would be filling the position.
She also plans to examine which services for veterans are missing in Lake County. For one, there have been contracting issues with long term care so some veterans have had to leave the area, she said. She intends to resolve that problem so that veterans can receive the care they need within Lake County.
Antle said she is “very passionate about veteran services,” adding, “There’s help for veterans and we need to get it to them.”
She noted that Pike is leaving big shoes to fill and she knows there will be a significant learning curve as she takes over as veteran services officer. “I’m not really sure what I’m stepping into,” she said, so she expects her first weeks will be filled with figuring out what is expected and what needs must be addressed.
Asked if there’s anything she would like local veterans to know, Antle said she wants them to be aware that she is there for them at the veteran services office and if they have not sought services yet, to come on by. As the office is located downstairs in Memorial Hall within the Lake County Courthouse, Antle said veterans sometimes forget the service is available.
Veteran services are available in Lake County within the courthouse’s Memorial Hall at 513 Center St. in Lakeview and at the Christmas Valley Annex located at 87127 Christmas Valley Highway. Each Monday the veteran services officer travels to be available at the Christmas Valley Annex from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Lakeview office can be reached at 541-947-6043 and the Christmas Valley office at 541-576-2115.