CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. — Jake Leinenkugel has gone to Washington. The Chippewa Falls native has signed on with the Trump administration as a senior White House adviser to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Leinenkugel, who ran Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. for a quarter of a century before retiring two years ago, is looking forward to working on behalf of America’s veterans, said his brother, brewery President Dick Leinenkugel.
"Jake is a veteran; two of his children are veterans. He certainly knows firsthand the challenges and opportunities men and women who leave the military face," Dick Leinenkugel said Monday. "This will allow him to impact the policies that will impact veterans."
Northwestern Bank President Jerry Jacobson has known Jake Leinenkugel since high school. He said it is obvious how much this position means to Jake, as are his reasons.
"Jake is very dedicated, and I know he really took a lot into consideration. He doesn't have to work. He could be traveling, he could be in Phoenix right now golfing instead of stuck in Washington, D.C.," Jacobson said.
"It's unbelievable a guy in retirement who's doing fine will sacrifice himself for our nation. It's great that he's doing this, and I actually think it's a great honor for the Chippewa Valley."
Jacobson said Leinenkugel had a long discussion with his wife Peg about going into government just a month shy of his 65th birthday. Only one thing would have swayed him into taking the position.
"He's only doing it for one reason — to help the vets," Jacobson said. "If he can find a way to make it easier on their lives, he will have accomplished his goal."
No official announcement has been made by the department or the White House. One factor in the delay could be that President Donald Trump's choice to head up the Department of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, has yet to be confirmed. Shulkin was one of the last Cabinet choices made by Trump. His appointment was announced Jan. 11 and referred to the Veterans Affairs Committee Friday.
On the same day Trump was being inaugurated as the nation's 45th president of the United States, Dick Leinenkugel held two meetings with brewery employees Friday to inform them of Jake's new position. He met with Leinie Lodge employees in the lodge, and then with brewery employees in the warehouse between afternoon shifts.