BROOKINGS – Patrick Couser, 53, joined the South Dakota Army National Guard on his 17th birthday in 1982.
He stayed in, worked his way up through the ranks and today serves as command sergeant major of the 109th Regional Support Group headquartered in Rapid City.
As keynote speaker, Couser will share his career story at 9 a.m. Sunday at the annual Veterans Day program in the Daktronics Room at the Swiftel Center.
Couser is a combat veteran, as is his wife, Lori Couser. The couple spent their first wedding anniversary deployed with the 740th Transportation Company in support of Operation Desert Shield-Desert Storm, 1990-1991. Patrick Couser would deploy again in 2002-2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Subsequent additional deployments took him to Korea, Panama, Netherlands and Egypt.
Couser earned a bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University in 1994; he went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Texas (El Paso) while attending the Command Sergeants Major Academy in Fort Bliss.
The command sergeant major’s military awards include the Bronze Star; Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (four awards), and selection as a member of the Ancient Order of Saint Christopher.
The Cousers have five children: Amber, Adam, Alex, Ava and Allyson.
This year’s program is being hosted by Brookings Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2118, American Legion Post No. 74, Disabled American Veterans and includes veterans from several other local veterans organizations.
Music for the program will be performed by the Brookings High School band under the direction of Ronald Stary. The Army ROTC Color Guard will perform flag detail. Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 will present the POW/MIA flag.
Representatives from the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee through the Brookings Chamber of Commerce will honor and present awards to: the enlisted member of the year; non-commissioned officer of the year; and civilian of the year.
The closing ceremony for the 24-hour vigil at the Brookings County Veterans Memorial on Western Avenue will commence at 11:11 a.m. Sunday. The South Dakota State University Air Force ROTC Arnold Air Society has the lead and invites the public to attend.
All veterans and their families are invited to a pot luck luncheon at noon at the VFW Post Home at 520 Main Ave., Brookings.
Additional Veterans Day observances will be held on Monday as follows: VFW at 1:30 p.m. at Edgewood Vista and at 3 p.m. at United Living Community; American Legion at Stoneybrook Suites at 1:30 p.m. and the Neighborhoods at Brookview at 3 p.m. Disabled American Veterans, American Legion Auxiliary, VFW Auxiliary and other organizations are assisting with these programs.
In observance of Veterans Day, several Brookings eateries are honoring veterans and active duty service personnel with free meals. On Sunday, Buffalo Wild Wings is offering its traditional wings or boneless wings with a side of fries. On Monday, Hy-Vee is offering its kitchen special breakfast from 6-11 a.m. Later in the day, Applebee’s Neighborhood Bwar & Grill is offering seven different meal entrees.
Additionally, Valley Restaurant & Catering in Volga will be serving a free meal and beverage to veterans and active duty military personnel from 6:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, courtesy of Lance Trucking, Volga; Meyer Services, Volga; and Bobcat of Brookings.