Monday, August 19, 2013

Blind attorney named outstanding disabled vet of year

Disabled American Veterans has named John Todd, an injured Army veteran from the Fraser DAV who teaches at Rochester College, as the 2013 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year.

Todd served as a Cobra attack helicopter pilot from 1968 to 1969 during the Vietnam War, and after being shot down twice his injuries left him legally blind.

Todd was presented the Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year award by National Commander Larry Polzin at the organization’s 92nd National Convention at a ceremony in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month.

“John Todd’s entire life has been about service to others,” said Polzin." Life presented him with immense challenges, but he didn’t miss a beat. He just continued to move forward serving veterans and the members of his own community.”

After his recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 1970, Todd moved to New York City to work as the National Coordinator for Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace. He later worked for President Richard Nixon’s staff where his work twice earned him the Freedom’s Foundation award for Excellence in Political Communication.

He earned a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in the late 1970s and served as the National Legislative Director of the Blinded Veterans Association. There, he authored legislation that provided for a rebuttable presumption of service-connection for permanently and totally disabled veterans so their spouses and dependents could qualify for benefits. The bill was passed into law and Todd’s work continues to affect veterans and their families today.

“The legacy of John Todd’s work in the veteran’s community is profound,” said DAV National Adjutant/CEO Marc Burgess. “The contributions he has made in his lifetime will better the lives of veterans and their families for many years to come.”

Todd joined DAV Chapter 19 in Fraser in Macomb County in 2010, where he serves as the Judge Advocate. He is currently a professor of business law and American legal studies at Rochester College in Rochester Hills in Oakland County. He lives in the village of Oxford with his wife of 38 years, Joyce.

Jerry Wolffe is the Writer in Residence & Advocate at Large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.