Ron Bartko, Veteran and resident Upper Post Veterans Community
When Ron Bartko was seventeen he went on a “kiddie cruise.” The year was 1952 and it wasn’t a summer adventure on a Disney cruise ship. It was a military enlistment program for the Navy. Ron and a couple of his buddies enlisted at the age of seventeen and finished their military duty the day before their twenty-first birthdays.
A native of Minnesota, for the next four years Ron saw parts of the world he never dreamed of as a youth. “It was all new and exciting, but it was also a time of war,” said Ron. “Ask any soldier who has been in a military conflict and they will all say it is the camaraderie that you miss the most when you leave the military.”
As promised, Ron was discharged the day before his 21st birthday and returned back to Minnesota. With military discharge pay of only $26 for 26 months, Ron knew he had to learn a trade. He attended a training program for television and electronics repair and then as Ron puts it, “life just happened.”
Ron held numerous jobs, was married and had children, made money, lost money, and spent a number of years down on his luck. Although Ron, now 80, can’t believe where time went, he believes that his luck has finally changed.
Ron is one of the new veteran residents at Upper Post Veterans Housing, CommonBond’s new development at Fort Snelling. As Ron puts it, “I love it here. I have always said that life is a constant change, but this place makes me want to stop wandering. I have the VA close by and the light rail – and it means so much to me to have fellow veterans for neighbors.”