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U.S. Navy veteran Lynn Arnett reflects on his career, his reasons for giving back to the community and the friends made along the way

COURTESY OF LYNN ARNETT - Lynn Arnett receives his medal from the State of Oregon in 2018.

Lynn Arnett did not retire to Crook County just to sit back and watch the sunsets—even though they are exceptional.

"I'm not the kind of guy that can retire and read a book and watch the sunset," commented Arnett of his move to Prineville. "I want to learn about the community. I am so pleased that we chose this community. For us, it's perfect because it's very patriotic, and it's very concerned about the things going on within its own boundaries of the community."

Arnett was born and raised in Southwest Portland. He also spent most of his career in cities — large and small. He and his wife appreciate the pace and comradery of living in a community like Crook County.

"When we came down the hill, and I saw the golf course, and I saw the setting and immediately to me, I fell in love with it," Arnett said of one of the big draws of Prineville upon first arriving.

Arnett joined the Navy when he was 18, when the Vietnam War was in full swing. He immediately was put into Security Group Command at Skaggs Island — a security base in the Bay area in California. His job entailed interviewing AWOLs when they came back when they had been picked up.

"This was during the Vietnam buildup in the mid-60s," he added.

He began working for United Way soon after returning to civilian life in 1975. He initially wanted to get involved in law enforcement, but he had a wife and new baby, and decided against it. He worked in management for the United Way for 32 years.

Arnett started working with United Way in 1975 in Portland. He went to Salem as campaign director and then had the opportunity to go to Seattle, Washington, and work on the Boeing Good Neighbor Fund. He also spent some time in Pueblo, Colorado, and Redding, California, working for the nonprofit. He worked for Redding as the CEO for 14 years.

Arnett had some unusual and interesting experiences while working for the company. Russia sent approximately 2,000 Russians over to the United States in 1997-1998 through the United Way in Redding, California, to learn about volunteerism and nonprofits from his group.

"Having a German-Russian background, I've learned a lot from the Russian people," Arnett said of the experience.

"They came to us and asked, 'Can you help us learn about this mysterious thing in America called volunteerism?'"

He indicated this was one of the highlights of his time while working for United Way.

"It was a good learning opportunity," he commented of his career. "I look back on that, and it was a good career of raising money and helping people … the best part of that whole job and that career was making the friends you make along the way. I got to work with some real shakers and movers and people who care about other people."

He retired in 2007 and moved to Prineville with his wife and built a house outside of town. Since moving to Prineville, he has been involved in organizations and projects that give back to the community. Arnett was a member of Crook County Rotary for three years, prior to joining the Band of Brothers in 2011. When he joined the latter, it was early in the organization's first year. He was member number 89. Now Band of Brothers has a membership of approximately 920.

"I chose the Band of Brothers because it was in line with what I wanted to do, and I couldn't go in four directions," he explained of his decision to leave Rotary and join Band of Brothers.

Arnett has been an important member of the organization, including his involvement in the Honor Guard prior to an old injury to his back that resulted in surgery—and subsequently some complications that followed the surgery.

"That was an honor for me," he said of his time in Honor Guard.

The Band of Brothers group met every Thursday morning prior to the pandemic, but they have not been able to have fellowship in the usual gathering for some time.

"We are in neutral right now," indicated Arnett of the group's ability to move forward as usual in gatherings and organized projects. "Too many unknowns right now."

In 2008, Arnett and his wife joined the Crook County Rodders Car Club. He is currently the president of the club, going on three years. He remarked that they are faced with the same issues and restrictions from the pandemic in moving forward with the club.

"My concern in this pandemic, besides the people who are suffering from it physically, are the people who are suffering from it economically. We have a lot of good people losing employment, and that's not healthy emotionally as well," he commented of the pandemic fallout.

In the car club this past summer, Arnett's group in the Rodders Club wanted to find ways to do safe activities like outside cruises.

"We did about nine or 10 cruises last summer and tried to keep the spirit of the car hobby alive and the camaraderie."

He added that creativity has been helpful in getting people through the restrictions from the pandemic. Arnett indicated that he would not go back to the city life at this point. However, he attributes St. Charles for saving his life when he threw a blood clot, so he is thankful for the health care in Central Oregon.

"I feel blessed to be in the physical condition I am in," he noted. "I used to be anxious to be a senior when I was in high school, then I became a senior and thought, Ok, I'm not that anxious to be a senior."

"I have learned a lot from people over the years," he went on to say. "The education I have learned from volunteers from community to community far exceeds the degrees I had from a university."

In closing, Arnett indicated that for those who are wanting to get involved in volunteering, he recommends starting with their passion.

"Everybody needs to know what their passions are … and I have learned you can't do it all."

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