Guest Bloggers

Why I Serve

November 11, 2019 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 11, 2019

" "On Veterans Day, we remember the men and women who bravely fought for our country, while also reflecting on our active duty heroes who are still risking their lives.

I joined the military at age 17 —not because I was feeling patriotic, but because I was missing something in my life. I wanted a place to belong, to feel accepted, and to somehow live a life of purpose. I was young, idealistic, and maybe a little naïve. During my 24 years of service, I learned about sacrifice, commitment, respect, dignity, service to others before yourself, and pride in my country. Yes, I slowly, and perhaps unwittingly, evolved into a patriot committed to serving my country.

After I retired from the military, I discovered my time to serve had not really ended. I applied for a job at Social Security knowing there was a good chance I could serve fellow veterans and their family members. The interviewer asked me, “Why do you want this job?” My answer was swift and heartfelt, “Because I want to work for my country again, I miss it!” Through our agency, I, like many other veterans, have found a second chance to serve.

At Social Security, we serve veterans all year round through our benefit programs, targeted outreach initiatives, expedited processes, recruitment efforts, and collaborations with other government agencies. We expedite our decisions at all levels of review for wounded warriors and veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent and Total.

Our online guide, Journey to Success: Employment Tools for Veterans with Disabilities, highlights helpful resources, such as career counseling, job training, employment services, and other ways that we help disabled veterans return to work.

Social Security also has a commitment to hire our veterans by using the special hiring authorities designed specifically for veterans. Thousands of veterans, many with disabilities like me, work at Social Security.

I have loved working for my country again. My favorite motto is: Those who reap the benefits of a great country can never fully understand the level of satisfaction achieved by those who serve. Help us honor our service members and veterans by sharing our resources with your family and friends to support veterans in your community.

Dennis Stehlar supervises the Video Production Team in our Office of Communications. He served in the Army from 1970 to 1994, and retired as a First Sergeant.

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About the Author

Dennis Stehlar, Social Security Administration

Dennis Stehlar supervises the Video Production Team in our Office of Communications. He served in the Army from 1970 to 1994, and retired as a First Sergeant.


  1. Mark M.

    My father was a gung ho U.S. Army Major in the field -artillery stationed at Fort Sill Oklahoma. I was born in Lawton but raised on a military base and learned how to march about the time I was learning to walk. At 17yrs of age, I joined the United States Navy. I ended-up aboard the U.S.S. Kearsarge C.V.S.33 aircraft carrier as a pre-flight inspector pre-launch on the flight deck. Thus my service to my country began in 1959 and hasn’t faltered but grown, ever since.

    • Shankar

      Thank you Mark!!!

  2. Wade E.

    I am encouraged to hear of your years of service.

    I’m hopeful that you will be proud enough of my own short service that you will attempt to restore my ID. You see, years ago, I have been issued a replacement Social Security card with the wrong numbers on it. I’m a head-wound case from both gulf wars and my memory isn’t what it used to be and I have no idea what my old number was; but it apparently isn’t this one. This is at least the second time this has happened. I have medical proofs that I am myself in that I have a poly-propylene pelvis now, as well as an inner heart valve replacement and I have artificial parts in both hands and feet. From DEA service I have a portion of a hell-fire missile circuit board and lead wire in my brain case.

    I am getting some Social Security, but it’s no where near the amount I would be getting.

    Monies were deposited in banks as well – with that old social security number. Obviously, I would like to be able to access these funds as well.

    Most disconcerting is my lack of medical records from the wars. My doctor will not be convinced I have a heart condition, for instance, without proof – all linked to that old social security number. I was shot in the heart, more than once, and have several valve replacements one on the inside of my heart between the heart chambers themselves – an odd location – and this being an artificial valve it might well impact what drugs I should be taking, but is silent given it’s location and neither of my doctors will believe it’s there.

    I have a colon that is compromised by being partially artificial as well. I need a human replacement before it fails.

    Most of my thyroid was destroyed, I should be given replacement therapies, but I’m not.

    I have replacement kidneys, and you guessed it, no anti-rejection drugs.

    Please see fit to research my case, and restore my I.D.

    I am Wade Edward Hinson formerly of Monson Maine but from Jacksonville Florida. I lived at 175 Ohio Street Bangor Maine at the time the new card was issued (and the old card was lost). I was born on 9-8-61.

    I was also known as Senator Wiener. And Wade Edward Henson.

    Thank You
    Wade Edward Hinson

  3. Richard I.

    I served for the freedom of everyone in our Country. I wanted to provide my life for those who choose to live freely and enjoy the pursuit of happiness. Regardless if someone likes me or not for whatever reason it may be I serve for them to have the freedom of their opinion. Their is no right or wrong in my eyesight but to protect our Country with ever breath I have to maintain dignity and freedom. So our spouses and children can wake up each morning and not live in fear.

  4. Ronda D.

    Thank you for your service!!

  5. Mike

    I appreciate your service to the country. What I can’t stand is the president, old bone spurs, to say anything on veterans day. He should be ashamed of himself. I hate to a negative person on this sacred day but really bothers me that Trump tries to take credit for everything he does or says.

    • John J.

      The President has only positive things to say about the military, no shame there. And he should not take credit for what he says?

  6. Thomas M.

    I am the son of a soldier, my Dad was in the Korean War, stationed in Kitzigan, West Germany. He saw that I studied another language and I chose Russian. I went to the USSR and was there for a year on a Fulbright. I got really sick there with schizophrenia and fought to get my papers in order to leave the country. It left me with a fine respect for paperwork. I live a reasonably sane life. Thank you SSA and Medicare.

    • Luis A.

      Hi Thomas. Thank you! We’re pleased we can help. We will continue our efforts to meet your requirements and expectations in the years to come.

  7. Suzanne

    Thank you for your Service, and for continuing to serve.

  8. Doc

    I’m sorry I don’t quality, I only served 20 years. /s/ HMC, USN, Ret. (FMF), Viet Nam vet.

  9. Greg E.

    Thank you for your life of service and the reminder of the values inherent in that. I joined to get sober and although I didn’t at that time, the sense of belonging and accountabilty imprinted me to reach out for that later and have the sober life I have now. Thank you for your part in fostering that system and your ongoing contributions!

  10. Jose V.

    To me a veteran is someone that served more than 20 years and not 2 years.

    • Chau b.

      Chau bunh tha

      • T. A.

        Interesting way of thinking Chau; however the number of years served vs how they served needs to be considered as well. “Why?” Well take someone who’s been enlisted for 20+ years or as a military lifer of some sort, sure they served so long they deserve respect for that length of commitment yet there’s countless vets who served 2-4 years and in many cases they served during wartime and some spent their 2+ years in duties of combat. For example I know [[a friend]] who did three tours of active combat 2 in Iraq and reupted to do a third mission in Afghanistan all major combat zones . So why Wouldn’t he or anyone like him be considered to qualify under your opinion that you consider a vet someone that served 20 years and not 2? 2 -3 or even 1 year of heavy combat can seem like serving for 20 years . Many of those vets end up with PTSD as a result of such combat and stress that goes with it.

        • R R.

          I think you are absolutely right a vet is a vet as long as they served and got a honorable discharge and as a veteran who served during peace time that makes me feel some type of way because I did my time that I was obligated to and if a war would have broke out I would have been ready to protect my country and t

          • Tobi

            yes he is right

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