Why I Serve

" "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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