When Marty Caraway graduated from high school he knew he was not disciplined enough to be a college student. That meant his choices were limited, but one of those options was something he had been considering all along – the military.
That choice would lead Caraway down a path that brought him to Redwood Falls where he joined American Legion Post 38, and his involvement in the post resulted in being named the 2013 Post 38 Legionnaire of the Year.
Growing up in a military family, Caraway always had an interest in serving his country.
“When the recruiters would come to school, I would always go and see them,” said Caraway, adding he thinks he really knew at a pretty young age he would serve.
Having a dad who served in the Army meant Caraway was convinced that is where he would end up, but a very persuasive recruiter led him in a different direction.
So, in 1999, just days after graduating from high school, Caraway began the process toward becoming a member of the United States Marine Corps.
Caraway’s stint in the service continued until 2005, and it was during a speech back home when he discovered his next role.
After his presentation, someone came up to him, handed him a business card and said, if he wanted, Caraway could have a job with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. Caraway, who had just returned from his second deployment in Iraq, had considered the idea of reenlisting to become a military recruiter. With a family now part of his decision making, Caraway kept that idea in the back of his mind, but in the end he opted to go and work on behalf of veterans.
During that time, Caraway joined the American Legion Post in Stillwater.
“My dad went in and paid my dues,” he said, adding at first he was just a dues paying member of the Legion.
After his stint working with veterans affairs, Caraway came to Redwood County as the veterans service officer and got much more involved.
Caraway said he wanted to get involved with veterans and knew one of the best ways to do that was to become part of an organization, such as the Legion.
So, he joined Post 38 and also became a member of Redwood VFW Post 2553.
Caraway also got involved with other veterans programs, such as the Wounded Warrior Project, and took on a more significant role than he had done in the past.
“During the short time that Marty Caraway has been in Redwood Falls, he has made considerable effort to help other veterans and has been an integral part of Post 38, having held many offices and participating in numerous post functions inside and outside of our building,” said Pat Schmidt, who was Post 38 Commander at the time Cara-way was named Legionnaire of the Year.
Page 2 of 2 - During that time, Caraway has served as past commander, in-cluding at one time serving as commander for the local Legion and VFW simultaneously, and has served as coach for the Legion baseball team.
Caraway was recently named vice commander of the Second District of the American Legion.
Caraway said he is honored to have been selected for the award.
He said the challenge for the Legion in the future is getting more of the younger veterans to be involved, adding those from past generations have stepped up to ensure those who are receiving benefits today have access to them. Now it is time for that younger generation of benefits to step up to bat.
“We can do more for veterans and the community, but it takes people to do that,” Caraway said. “We can really make a difference, and the more people we have involved the less work it becomes for each of us.”
Caraway is proud of his service and takes pride in being a member of the Legion. He thinks others should, too.