Fighting for Those Who Fought for Us
Retired Navy Commander Mike Judd is on a mission: to help and encourage veterans in need to get the benefits they were promised by Uncle Sam.
Like many in the military, Judd worked his way up the ranks over his 31-year career in the Navy by being the go-to guy when things were not going well. As the head of the Mobile Technical Unit 7 in Japan, Judd directed a team of 30 senior enlisted experts and contractors who could be flown out at a moment’s notice to any of the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet’s deployed ships in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans to correct problems with radar, communications and other electronics and weapons systems.
After concluding 31 years of service and retiring in 1991, Judd discovered veterans were pretty much left to fend for themselves when trying to find out what benefits they had earned for their years of service and how to start receiving them. Thus, many benefits go unclaimed. Disabled vets may struggle to make a living and/or pay for medical care and prescriptions for decades, unaware they could be taken care of by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Over the past seven years, Judd has personally counseled dozens of veterans in Washington's Sequim Adventist Church and the surrounding community, helping them navigate their way to significant benefits that they have earned through selfless service to their country. Some feel that applying for benefits is selfish or worry about adding to the national debt and actually refuse to apply for benefits. To this Judd says, “These veterans have earned the right to ask for these benefits. They put their lives on the line and should receive everything they are eligible for.”
Some, including Judd, suffered from exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant used widely during the Vietnam War to clear the jungle. Others suffer from hearing issues, PTSD, back and joint problems, various types of cancer, and more. In one case, Judd helped a fellow parishioner obtain $80,000 in back pay and monthly disability compensation of $3,000 the serviceman did not know he was eligible for. Others have received more modest monthly amounts, medical care and medications from the VA they did not know they could get at no cost or greatly reduced cost.
Vets have spread the word around Sequim that Judd will listen and he will help them. Just starting the application process and being encouraged, valued and listened to has given many aging vets in financial difficulties hope. Judd’s willingness to minister to others in this way is now featured on the Sequim Adventist Church website. He advises anyone who has served for any length of time to contact a Veterans Service agent at their local Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion. If you can visit or call a VA clinic or hospital, they have benefits experts on staff who can help as well. Vets will need to have their DD-214 discharge papers to get the ball rolling. If you have a question you’d like to run by Judd, you can reach him by email.