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Inspiration from a father

As a young boy growing up in a rural community near Hannibal, state Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Frankford, remembers accompanying his father on some of his “calls” around the community.

“My father was a country doctor and responded to lots of incidents in the community … such as car wrecks and farm accidents,” Hansen said.

“When I was old enough, he would bring me along on some of these calls.”

With this early exposure to medical treatment, it is not surprising that Hansen would choose to pursue a military occupation closely aligned with his father’s influence.

Graduating from Hannibal High School in 1965, Hansen attended the University of Arizona the following fall on a basketball scholarship.

In May of 1969, following his graduation with a bachelor’s of science degree, Hansen enlisted in the Army Reserve.

“The Vietnam War was going on and I didn’t know if I would be drafted,” he said. “But I thought if I enlisted, I would at least get to choose the type of unit I liked and the job I wanted to do.”

Assigned to an Army hospital unit in Tucson, Ariz., Hansen would go on to complete his basic training at Fort Campbell, Ky., before traveling to FortSam Houston, Texas, to attend training as a medic.

“The medical training was of interest to me because it involved a lot of training and situations I had witnessed with my father in previous years,” Hansen said.

During the eight weeks of training, he received additional instruction on emergency first aid, treatment of injuries, and basic hospital responsibilities such as inserting an intravenous drip.

Completing his training in the summer of 1970, Hansen began attending weekend drills and annual training exercises with his unit while at the same time pursuing his master’s degree at the University of Arizona.

Although many in his unit, Hansen recalled, thought they would be mobilized for service in Vietnam, they remained stateside and trained in several locations throughout the United States performing medical support services at both military and veterans’ hospitals.

The young medic graduated with his master’s degree in education in 1974, and left the service the following year after the expiration of his initial enlistment contract.

He spent several years teaching and coaching at a local high school in Tucson, but in 1979 returned to the Hannibal area to accept a job as an agent with the State Farm Agency. In 2002, he retired from the agency as a vice president for the state of Missouri.

Hansen then settled in rural Pike County where he volunteered to serve as chairperson for the board that raised the funds to build the new Pike County Health Department.

Approached by members of the community interested in having him represent them in Jefferson City, Hansen accepted the challenge and ran a successful campaign last year to become the representative for the state’s newly formed 40th District.

The freshman legislator’s military service has been recently acknowledged when he was appointed to serve on the House Veterans’ Committee, an outlet, he says, that allows him to be involved in issues that directly affect the state’s military members.

Hansen explains that although he is involved with legislation that will be of benefit to veterans and those still serving, he also realizes the importance of honoring the sacrifices of those who have passed before us.

“I’m currently involved in legislation that would allow citizens throughout the state to donate money to the Liberty (World War I) Memorial in Kansas City whenever they get their license renewed,” Hansen said, noting that the next year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war.

“Having been a high school teacher and also serving in the military, I feel it is important that we work to preserve such history and ensure that the younger generation realizes the impact that veterans of earlier wars have made in maintaining the freedoms we continue to enjoy.”

Jeremy Amick is the public affairs officer for the Silver Star Families of America.

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