County VSO to be deployed to Afghanistan next summer with Air Force
During a closed door meeting last week to determine how best to handle a growing backlog of cases, Hubbard County Veterans Service Officer Dave W. Konshok received a phone call from his Air Force reserve unit - he is being deployed to Afghanistan next summer.
In total he will be gone nine months, eight months in increasingly hostile territory that has been the focus of President Barack Obama's administration.
"It's not new," Konshok said. "We've been talking about this for the past few months and it was always a possibility.
"I've been in the military, 21 years now, that's subject to change but I have received the official notice," he said.
County commissioners contacted declined to say how they will fill the vacancy, but Konshok acknowledged it had been discussed at the 17-minute personnel evaluation he underwent last week.
"We've talked about it but not any specifics," Konshok said, declining to elaborate further.
"If the commission is aware of this deployment they've gotta act," said Dave Free, commander of the Park Rapids American Legion.
The county has been grappling with how to respond to the growing number and complexity of veterans' cases since Konshok divides his time equally between his veterans' duties and serves as the county's Emergency Management Director.
He has asked for additional help to deal with the veterans' cases, but the county has no money in the budget, he was told.
Konshok, who is also a city council member, a local business owner and a graduate student at North Dakota State University, attended a Legion board meeting Monday night. Afterwards, Free said Konshok thanked the Legion for campaigning to get a full-time VSO and urged them to continue their campaign.
Konshok maintains that his outside interests have not impeded his obligations to Hubbard County, and said he does not take work time to attend to those other activities.
Free said aside from the full-time staffing of the position is the issue of getting prompt service and having someone trained to assume the duties when Konshok is deployed.
"Obviously I've signed up and I'm part of the reserve," Konshok said. "But one of the things I try to put out to folks is that hey, I'm happy to serve. This is part of what I do. I recognize it's inconvenient for a lot of folks, employer, family..."
Konshok said once a unit has been deployed, going overseas is not optional. His unit is based out of Ogden, Utah.
"This is what they call mobilization orders which are official, you have to go," he said.
Responding to dangerous conflicts "goes with the territory," he said.
The county will issue a public decision on staffing the office at its next meeting Oct. 21.