PLEASE NOTE: Statements made in this blog post are direct quotes from employees of Retirement Planners of America as of the date of publication. The views and opinions expressed by the quoted employee do not necessarily reflect the official position of Retirement Planners of America.

Veterans Day is a day to recognize and express our gratitude to the bravest among us. At Retirement Planners of America (RPOA), we honor them for their brave and selfless service and thank them and their families for their sacrifices made on behalf of a grateful nation in the name of freedom and liberty.

So, we thought we would ask some RPOA employees to tell us what Veterans Day means to them. Some are veterans themselves and gave us insight into how the military affected them and helped shape who they are today. All of them agree that Veterans Day is a time to thank and celebrate those who fight to keep us safe.

Jim Ward
Marine Corps Veteran
Executive VP and Chief Investment Officer

“My time in the Marine Corps was about service over self.  When I look at the RPOA Core Values, I am touched by the same sense of service: Service to the employees of RPOA and even more importantly, service to our clients.  Marines are united by those before us who have given so much of themselves and conducted themselves to a standard that we all aspire to as Marines and as Americans. Similarly, we at RPOA seek to follow Ken’s (Moraif’s) example and to create that standard for ourselves and one another.”

Jordan Roach
Army Veteran, West Point graduate

“Veterans Day is certainly a special day for me and my family, as all I wanted to do starting my junior year of high school was fight in the Global War on Terror on the front lines. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity after becoming an Infantry Officer upon my graduation from West Point. Unfortunately, after nearly three years of service, I was medically discharged due to multiple knee surgeries. I expected and desired a life of military service, so when I left the Army, I wanted to continue in a career where I felt like what I did was meaningful, full of purpose and continued service in some way. To me, financial services was the perfect fit where each day I feel like what I do matters to others, and I am continuing to make a difference.”


Hunter Healy           
Marine Corps Veteran

Truthfully, I kind of consider Veterans Day to be the day that happens to be after the Marine Corps birthday. I always wanted to be in the military and my time was cut short with a medical separation. I was a reservist but trained quite a lot. That time gave me a baseline for how to run my life for the rest of my life. That means to be competent and competitive at everything you do, be professional and always be a leader even when you’re following, look out for people around you. I know what my body does at extreme cold/heat and with a 85lb pack at 10000ft, I know my emotions always have to be controlled and I have to be focused, but more than that I know everything I do has a standard. I think about and appreciate the men who have dedicated their lives or whose lives were changed irreparably in order to maintain our freedom and democracy and maintaining a country where we don’t have wars and strife and elections aren’t corrupt. I think of my friends who were killed or killed themselves over what happened in defense of that idea.”


Melba Whitehead               
Navy Reservist
Director of First Impressions

“First, let me start by saying I am a service member and not a veteran.  I am a CB (construction battalion). I served for the Navy Reserves for a total of 8 years as a builder. Although I volunteered for deployment, our country decided I should be with my children being that I am a single mother instead of serving with my unit. I’m grateful to be an American and will always be willing to fight to protect our freedoms.”

Angie Alexander
Director of Corporate Communications

“On Veterans Day, I honor Sam Kogutt, aka “PopPop.” He lived an extraordinary life, but lost his fight against Alzheimer’s on December 9, 2020, his 95th birthday. He was a first-generation American who lived the “American dream.” The son of Holocaust survivors, at the age of 18, PopPop joined the Army so he could fight in World War II. His troop liberated one of the last of the Nazi concentration camps in Germany.”

Sam Kogutt, 1944

Aaron McDaniel
Marketing Analyst

“Every year we have an opportunity to celebrate and commemorate all the brave men and women that have served or currently serve in our nation’s military. Veterans Day is a reminder to us all that our freedom is not without cost. It is not something that is simply given. It is something that has been earned. Earned through the willingness of some to give their lives so that others might live. Earned with sacrifices made every day by those who serve and the families of those who serve. Veterans day is our opportunity to honor all those who have paid a price for us all. A price that grants us all the freedoms & liberties we experience every day.”

Laura Black
Marketing Copywriter/Editor

“Veterans Day is an important day in my family. I remember as a young girl, going to my grandparents’ house and seeing my grandfather’s medals, the black and white pictures of him with his fellow crewmembers, and hearing his stories of the family he gained as a Sergeant in the Army Air Corps in World War II. My dad was in the Army serving in the Vietnam War, having left a possible baseball career to serve his country. My husband joined the Navy shortly after high school. Veterans Day is a reminder of all that has been sacrificed by these brave ones who continue to inspire me in my daily life.”

Army Air Corps crew, 1944


Robert Tunnell
Marine Veteran

“Veterans Day is a reminder that freedom isn’t free, it comes with sacrifice.  It has always been a big deal in my home. My grandfather served during WWII, four of my uncles during Vietnam, my brother is a former Marine, and the majority of my cousins have served as well.  My daughter served as a combat medic with the Army’s 1st Cavalry in Iraq, and my son and his wife are active-duty Air Force.  I am a Marine veteran, I served during the Persian Gulf War, once in Kuwait, then again aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, off the coast of Kuwait.  While in the Persian Gulf, I was redeployed to Mogadishu, Somalia. We celebrate Veterans Day (Nov.11th) and the Marine Corps Birthday (Nov. 10th) at the same time; from the time my kids were young, we would always celebrate every year with cake, balloons, and streamers.  When my daughter first learned to talk, she would call Veterans Day, “Feterans Day”; so, the kids have always referred to this time as “Feterans Day”.  Even now that the kids have grown up; my daughter calls and we wish each other a Happy Feterans Day! I enjoyed my time as a Marine. When interacting with clients or prospects, I can easily connect with those that have served; we find commonalities, and swap stories.  When I think about how it has shaped who I am today, I think of certain mannerisms I still possess today.  I think of honor and camaraderie, but also how being a Marine has instilled motivation and grit to accomplish just about anything I set my mind to.  I am proud that I served as a US Marine!”



Eileen Merz
Client Services Associate

My father, William Rabelhofer, was a career military man. He started with the Army and moved to the Illinois Air National Guard which was then absorbed by the Air Force based at Chicago’s O’Hare Int’l Airport. He retired as a Senior Master Tech Sergeant with numerous awards/merits, just before Operation Desert Storm. It is a good thing he didn’t go to Desert Storm because he had a major heart attack a month after his department was deployed. He survived the heart attack and lived another 30 years before Alzheimer’s had taken him. This is why the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is very important to me.

When I was in high school my father was woken up at 1am to report to a crash site in Lake Zurich, IL. Halfway between our home near the Wisconsin border and O’Hare Airport. A military aircraft had crashed on its way to O’Hare. Everyone on board had perished. For the next 3 weeks he had to report to the crash site and then to the hangar. He said it was gruesome and it made him very somber for months afterwards. As a sheet metal specialist, it was his job to recreate the plane from the pieces. He had discovered the cause which was a lightning strike to the antenna which was currently on the underside of every aircraft. It then ignited the fuel tanks held inside the wings. It was my father’s job to relocate the antennas to the top of every aircraft in the fleet, nationwide. He completed that task in record time and received a medal, a certificate, and a phone call from the President of the United States at that time, Gerald R. Ford.

He was part of the Air Force’s Air Refueling Wing and had to work on aircraft mid-flight. My first trip to California, where I fell in love with the state and knew I wanted to live here, was because of a mid-air accident that damaged the boom on a refueling aircraft (no other injuries – just the boom). The boom is the long metal hose the refuels the other aircraft. My father, being known as the expert, was flown in from Illinois to March AFB to fix the damaged aircraft and provided training to the local crew.

He was an amazing man and always took his responsibilities to heart and did everything to the best of his ability. He made us proud, he made the Army, the Guard and the Air Force proud and he made America proud.

At Retirement Planners of America, we want to say thank you to all who served and are serving. We celebrate and honor you not just on Veterans Day, but every day.
At Retirement Planners of America, we want your money to last as long as you do. If you’re interested in meeting with one of our advisors to learn more about how we can build a personalized retirement plan for your unique needs, visit our website here to set up a retirement plan consultation.