The Colorado County Veterans Service Officers Association awarded Elbert County resident and Veterans Service Officer Ric Morgan with the inaugural William “Bill” Conroy Award at a ceremony held during the association's recent conference in Colorado Springs.
The award comes following efforts by Larry Ross, Elbert County commissioner for District Three, who spearheaded the nomination on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners. At a meeting of the BOCC on June 24, Ross read the nomination into the record.
“Serving our Elbert County community at large, not only does Mr. Morgan work tirelessly to advocate for veterans and their families, Ric also deploys his exceptional skills to assist local governments, community civic groups and all who are in need,” Ross read. “By honoring Mr. Ric Morgan with the William `Bill' Conroy Award, your association would be providing a truly fine example of excellence on the part of a veterans service officer.”
Morgan serves as one of 49 part-time, volunteer veterans service officers in the state. He assists veterans and their families with benefits such as filing Veterans Affairs claims, coordinating with state and federal agencies, and assisting with appeals.
“It was a surprise,” Morgan said. “I didn't know that Commissioner Ross had written that. I knew that all the commissioners had been part of that process, and I was duly humbled that the commissioners, particularly Commissioner Ross, would take the trouble to do that.”
Morgan graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in geology and physical science. Following graduation, he attended the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, where he received his commission as a naval officer.
“We moved to Elbert County in 1991,” Morgan said. “My wife stayed here while I was overseas.”
After serving in the Navy for 20 years, he retired in 1999 with the rank of commander. A few years after his retirement and at the urging of a local clergy member, Morgan earned his law degree at the University of Denver and has been practicing law in Elbert County ever since, the majority of that practice bro bono.
“We have a gentleman in this county that a lot of the citizens don't understand or even see what he does for this county,” Commissioner Robert Rowland said. “He's our veterans officer.”
“It's nice of them to say that about me, but it's really the veterans that deserve the gratitude of the community,” Morgan said.
Morgan's involvement with county veterans is not all he does for the community. His work in Elbert County extends to providing advice through free monthly clinics, Lawyers at the Library; serving as a volunteer adviser to the Elbert County Water Advisory Committee, where he was instrumental in obtaining grants for a countywide water study; and advising the Elbert Water and Sanitation District with water and sanitation infrastructure.
Morgan also supported the Elizabeth Veterans Memorial and assisted the American Legion in creating a veterans meeting facility.
As a local historian, he has studied and presented lectures on the 1864 and 1868 Indian Wars in Elbert County.