Molly Eller faithfully served her country and is now serving veterans in the community.
Eller, who has been the veteran’s service officer for Burke County since 2016, also spent 14 years in the U.S. Army and Navy, according to a previous News Herald article. Her service included deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany.
A native of South Beach, Florida, she joined the Navy in 2002 at the age of 27. She began her military career as an airman and later became a quartermaster (shipboard navigation). When she switched over to the Army, she worked as a patient administrator for combat and Army hospitals and clinics. She also worked in Army veterinarian clinics taking care of service animals.
After a medical discharge from the Army, Eller settled in McDowell County with her husband and children and earned a health informatics technology certification from McDowell Tech Community College. She graduated with honors and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa and the National Honor Society.
While earning her certification, she completed an internship with NC Works. Afterward, one of her contacts there let her know that the veterans’ service officer position in Burke County had become available.
“He advised me to apply and said that I'd be a perfect candidate for the job,” Eller said. “So I listened to him and applied. Of course back then, I thought to myself that even getting an interview would be like winning the lottery. Guess what -- I won the lottery, because I think have the best job in the county. Plus I enjoy helping people.”
As a veterans’ service officer, Eller helps local veterans process their benefits claims and connects them with government and community resources available. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit Burke County, she also hosted a monthly veterans’ coffee social and World War II-Korean era veterans’ social group.
Before restrictions on indoor gatherings, she led a team of community volunteers twice a year to plan the Memorial Day and Veterans Day services in Morganton.
As I looked back on my favorite stories of the year, I realized the common theme among them …
Her concern for veterans has inspired her to volunteer with the Vet 2 Vet program at Burke Hospice and Palliative Care and serve as a mentor for the Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court. She also is a local Girl Scout troop leader.
Eller encouraged people to use Black History Month as a reminder to look past outward appearances.
“This is a time to reflect on the diversity of each other,” she said. “We should all take pause before judging one based on skin color. People with dark complexions are very diverse, speak different languages and come from different cultural backgrounds. So let us all embrace everyone's uniqueness, for this is what makes America the Great!”
Staff writer Tammie Gercken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.