MOSSY HEAD, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For one local county commissioner, serving her county isn't the only way she gives back.
District 3 Walton County Commissioner, Melanie Nipper just recently returned from a two-month hiatus overseas as a civilian using her military background.
"When I go overseas and I see other countries and we work with other countries, making a difference, the comradery of the other countries when we're trying to bring Democracy. I've been in Bosnia, Haiti, Korea, and I see I make a difference to their people and that makes you feel good about what we can do here in America," said Nipper.
Now, after 24 years and six different deployments, including three in Iraq, Nipper said she went to keep her flying certifications current.
"So I chose to go. I chose to go as a civilian. The job that I do as a civilian is identical as the job I do in the military. I'm on a military base, I have a military ID. The military has to allow me to fly their aircraft. I have a letter of authorization from the military that says I have all the requirements. I have a clearance that allows me to fly the aircraft I do. And I don't think I'd be able to do any of that if it wasn't for my military background," Nipper added.
She added that although she was not in the county, she did not leave her commissioner duties.
"The county commissioner meetings, I viewed and streamed on a tablet while I was overseas, answered as many e-mails as I possibly could., even though there is a time difference, but that's not a problem with email. [I] made phone calls, spoke with people when it really was important, whether getting up early or staying up late. But I stayed in touch with people," said Nipper.
Nipper said she originally joined to pursue her dream of flying helicopters but has since developed an appreciation for helping make a difference in the world.
"I'm just thankful I can make a change. I just enjoy what I do and I enjoy knowing I made a difference," Nipper said.