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Retired Col. Gale Bullard's career as an Air Force nurse anesthetist took him just about everywhere, he says: Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia.

Since 2004, he has continued his service back home in Hastings, performing honor guard ceremonies with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and visiting patients at Mary Lanning hospital.

On Tuesday, the day before Veterans Day, Bullard and 14 other Nebraska veterans were honored at the state Capitol by Gov. Pete Ricketts for their work as AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers.

"This is a priority for my administration," the governor said. "It's our obligation to make sure that we continue to support them when they come out of the service."

Ricketts highlighted Bullard and fellow Air Force veteran Gloria Cotton of Papillion, who provides academic counseling and other assistance to veteran students at Bellevue University, part of the Lutheran Family Services and AmeriCorps VetSuccess program.

Nationwide, 23,000 veterans serve their communities through AmeriCorps or the Senior Corps, said Wendy Spencer, who oversees the programs at the national level as CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

While 15 veterans received National Veteran Corps pins during Tuesday's ceremony, Spencer said the goal is to celebrate all those who continue to contribute.

"I don't know why every day (isn't) Veterans Day," Spencer said. "Every day ought to be."

Tuesday's ceremony was one of 200 taking place across the country this month. Ricketts also recognized others who support veterans and military families through their national service.

"I think it's very nice of the governor to do this," said Bullard, who wore his Adams County burial detail uniform to the ceremony.

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The burial detail helps with interment ceremonies for veterans and fallen service members.

"This is our last chance to pay our respects to those guys ... and it's an honor for me to do it," Bullard said.

Wednesday, he'll attend a Veterans Day celebration at the Hastings City Auditorium followed by dinner at the Disabled American Veterans club.

"It's a full day," he said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or zpluhacek@journalstar.com. On Twitter @zachamiLJS.

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Assistant city editor

Zach Pluhacek is an assistant city editor.

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