Montonye to receive Legionnaire of the Year award at annual event
Ron Montonye, veterans service officer for Pierce County, will travel to Minot June 26 to receive the Legionnaire of the Year award for the North Dakota American Legion at the annual department convention.
That news would come as little surprise to those who know Montonye through his service in the Army, Rugby’s Clarence Larson Post 23 or the Pierce County Veterans Service Office.
“I think that he’s very deserving of the award with all the things he’s done as our adjutant and with his idea for putting ceiling tiles in our building,” Post Commander John Gustafson said. “They were his idea. He happened to be at another post and he observed that and he brought the idea back to us and asked if we might be interested, and we said, ‘absolutely.’ It’s a great way to honor our veterans whether they’re deceased or alive.”
“He’s our veterans service officer and does a good job of that,” Gustafson said. “He’s a substitute teacher. And Legionnaire of the Year is also based on community involvement. He’s very much involved in his church. I think he was very deserving of the award.”
A Vietnam era veteran, Montonye said in a message to the Tribune, “I was motivated to serve as our county’s veteran service officer as I have always had a great appreciation for all veterans who have served our country and the sacrifices they have made for our freedom and liberty.”
Montonye said he had served with the U.S. Army Signal Corp at the U.S. Electronic Proving Ground in Fort Huachaca, Arizona. His commission came through the ROTC program at North Dakota State University in 1975. His duties included testing new telephone, switchboard and message trafficking equipment.
“My family, especially on my father’s side, have had a long association with the military,” Montonye said, adding, “Way back, my French Huguenot ancestors fled France to escape religious persecution in the early 1600s. They fled to Holland and then came over with the Dutch to help settle New Amsterdam, which eventually became New York City. My ancestors and immediate family have served in the military for our country in about every war since then. I guess the love I have for this country is sort of in my genes.”
In his role as veterans service officer, Montonye said he sees “wide and varied” needs among Pierce County military veterans and their families. “In the three and one half years that I have served as a VSO, I have helped many of our veterans, spouses and their dependents with assisting them in such things as compensation, benefits, enrollment in the VA Health Care system, burial benefits, tax abatement for those receiving compensation at 50% or higher and other claims and issues with the VA as well,” Montonye noted, adding, “It is important to remember that I’m employed by the county to assist our local veterans. I do not work for the VA. I am the middle man between the veteran and the VA to assist them with their claims with the VA.”
“I am thankful to our local county commissioners for hiring me to help our veterans,” Montonye added.“I feel privileged and honored to serve them. I am motivated to help all our local veterans and their families by knowing that what I do can help them receive all the benefits they are entitled to, and have earned, for what they have done for our country.”
“I have always made it my desire, that whether serving as our county VSO, or being active in our Rugby American Legion Post, my involvement should not be about me. It is about serving our veterans and helping to meet their needs. Yet, I am humbled and honored to receive the award for the 2020 North Dakota Legionnaire of the Year,” Montonye added. “I am thankful to our Post for nominating me for this award and am grateful to our Commander John Gustafson for his expertise in writing up the paperwork that he provided the North Dakota American Legion as part of the selection process.”
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