MENOKEN, N.D. (KXNET)– While we’ve interviewed many veterans who served our country many years ago, there’s also a lot who served more recently. KX News visited with a veteran who just retired this past March.

“My career, it was lucky, you know, right place right time, and it all worked out good,” said retired Command Sergeant Major John Zacher.

Zacher’s career was something that took a little bit more than luck. He served over 30 years with the North Dakota Army National Guard.

“It was a way to pay for an education, go do something different, get some different experience,” explained Zacher.

But soon, it evolved into something a little bit different.

“It’s an opportunity to meet people from all over the place, and it’s a big network, and it becomes the group of friends and companions that you reach out to and talk to.”

In his time serving, Zacher was deployed to Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Africa. These were eye opening experiences for him.

“50% of the population of the planet probably doesn’t have a clean source of water, you know, so you get to see that their kids get sick because they drink contaminated water, and things that we take for granted, you know, reliable power, where the lights here stay on pretty much 24/7,” said Zacher.

“The rest of the world, other than western Europe, a lot of the rest of the world probably doesn’t have those luxuries that we in America take for granted, so there’s a lot of realization that goes on and a lot of appreciation for what you do have.”

Despite leaving the guard this spring, Zacher says he’s still greatly influenced by the time he spent serving.

“It’s a big family, right? When you graduate from college and move out of the home, it’s still your family, you’re just not with them all the time, so in that aspect, it’s been good.”

If you’re graduating soon, or just looking to try something new, Zacher recommends you take a look at the National Guard.

“Like many North Dakotans, you probably grew up to the age of eighteen fairly sheltered, you know, three or four years in the military. You don’t have to stay for 32 years. It doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment, but it’s probably pretty rewarding if it is. Give it a try! You know the military’s probably not for everybody, but if you try it, you’ll find that there’s something that’s rewarding and worth doing.”

Zacher has definitely made lifelong relationships through the guard. That’s how he met his wife.
They’ve been married for nineteen years, and they have three children.