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Speaker: Veterans have earned every benefit

Dennis L. Krulder, 4th junior vice commander of the national Disabled American Veterans, was the keynote speaker at the Disabled American Veterans Department of North Dakota’s state convention Saturday in Jamestown. Chris Olson / The Sun

Dennis L. Krulder of Brooklyn, N.Y., was 19 years old when he was drafted into the Army.

From May 1967 to May 1969 he was a door gunner with the 5th U.S. Air Cavalry serving in the Vietnam War. His time in combat made him want to help his fellow veterans when he got back to the United States.

On Saturday Krulder was the keynote speaker at the Disabled American Veterans Department of North Dakota’s state convention in Jamestown. About 100 DAV members from around the state were in attendance.

Krulder received the DAV’s national award for volunteerism — the George H. Seal Memorial Trophy — and last year was named the 4th junior vice commander of the national DAV for 2014.

Krulder has been a hospital service coordinator in New York for the last 32 years. Krulder said his fellow veterans have earned every benefit they receive, and it’s up to groups like the DAV and Auxiliary to make sure their senators and congressmen continue to properly fund services for veterans.

“This is not a partisan issue. It’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democrat issue, it’s a veterans issue,” he said.

Krulder said the DAV and Auxiliary provide services for disabled veterans around the country and in North Dakota through 14,000 members, who volunteer at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics across the nation.

“We have 9,000 volunteer drivers who help our veterans get to medical appointments every day,” he said.

The DAV established an employment department to help veterans find work. In 2013 the unemployment rate for veterans who served in the U.S. armed forces since 2001 was 9 percent, according to a report issued in March from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the VA. This is down from 2012 when the rate was 9.9 percent for the same group of veterans, but is up when compared to the general civilian population unemployment rate of 7 percent for that same time period.

“We are working to enhance our organization’s ability to empower veterans with special employment incentives, job fairs and we are working with the public and private sectors to address joblessness and unemployment among our veterans,” Krulder said.

The DAV and Auxiliary will continue to monitor and advocate for veterans benefits in spending legislation as the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives work on the coming fiscal year budget, according to Krulder. He said when the national government shut down for 16 days in October last year due to a budget impasse, veterans felt the impact.

“Veterans had to meet with VA workers in tents because VA offices were shut down,” Krulder said.

Krulder said he is proud of everyone who works and/or volunteers with the DAV, be it at the local, state or national level. He said it is important that all members recognize the work of the auxiliary as well.

“This is America, this is a family,” he said, referring to the DAV and auxiliary. “We may not always agree, we agree to disagree. But, we support each other, we need each other. We need the auxiliary to support us.”

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454