By Kate Dawson

Paul Dupont knows VFW. He’s held every office at Post 1114 in Evansville, Ind., and has been a member since 1970. He also knows veterans need a helping hand. That’s why he was encouraged to utilize his understanding nature and become a VFW service officer. 

After the Vanderburgh County service officer retired in early 2011, local veterans’ organizations looked to Dupont, who was helping out in the office at the time, to fill the role.

“I was asked if I could do it, and I could,” said Dupont, who has worked with different veterans groups for the past 35 years. “I enjoy working with vets, and I wanted to help.” 

And he has helped. In the past year alone, Dupont has conducted 787 personal interviews with veterans. His two-member staff filed nearly 300 claims and applications, plus 172 he did on his own. 

More than any other claim, Dupont finds himself filing paperwork for Agent Orange-related illnesses. Following close behind are tinnitus claims. “Some of these claims last for years,” said Dupont, who served as a photographer with the 76th Engineer Battalion in 1969 in Korea. “And these vets should get what they deserve—that’s what I’m working toward.” 

As a service officer, Dupont knows that veterans are working long hours to pay their bills—which becomes difficult if maintaining a job isn’t an option because of combat-related disabilities. His office is a place they can go for guidance in filling out paperwork.

“We know VA paperwork is complicated,” said Dupont, who works 40 hours a week as a service officer. “We do what we can for veterans and their families—we know they need some help.”

In addition to vets being unemployed, Dupont recognizes all needs—including the ones that extend beyond the veterans themselves. According to the service officer, veterans’ insurances won’t always cover all medical expenses. “I had a good friend of mine, a Vietnam veteran, die from lung cancer after his claim was pending for years,” Dupont said. “His widow didn’t have insurance, so we worked to get VA health care for her and her family—they’re now covered.” 

And the veterans who Dupont helps aren’t the only ones who notice his dedicated demeanor. 

“I feel that Paul has done an exemplary job as our service officer,” said Vincent “Joe” Misuraca, Post 1114 commander. “He is very deserving of recognition.” 

Since joining his Post more than four decades ago, Dupont filled the role of Post commander twice and has been quartermaster since 1999, in addition to holding a variety of other positions. 

Dupont believes all veterans should get what they deserve. For him, the greatest reward he receives is after veterans see their claims approved. “The smile on a veteran’s face after he gets his service letter saying how much compensation he’s going to receive,” he said, “that’s probably the best part of my job.”

Korea_400.jpg           Callout.jpg           Office_400.jpg
Paul Dupont takes a break from his duties as a
photographer with HQ Co., 76th Engineer Battalion
at Camp Eiler, Korea in 1969. Dupont served one
in Korea in 1969 from May to December.
          Service Officer Paul Dupont, known for working with
hundreds of veterans, goes over VA forms with a
veteran on March 22, 2013.

Reprinted with permission. May/June 2013, Checkpoint.



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