FAIRFIELD — Ted Puntillo told the Senior Advocate Committee about his service as a military policeman, including the year he spent in Vietnam where the Tet offensive in 1968 left 14 people in his platoon dead.
The director of the Department of Veteran Services for Solano County planned a career in law enforcement after his military service, but a back injury he suffered while working for the U.S. Postal Service meant he couldn’t pursue that plan despite three years as a military policeman and a college degree in criminal justice.
Puntillo, 67, went on to serve 20 years as postmaster in Davis, where he was also on the city council and also served as mayor, he said during his July talk to seniors.
He worked for the California Department of Veteran Affairs before coming to Solano County and the office at the county government center, 675 Texas St., Suite 4700, in Fairfield.
That’s where he encourages veterans to come by and find out what benefits they may be due.
“See us,” Puntillo said. “We’ll help you.”
Veteran-related matters can be complicated, he said. “They’re always changing rules.”
Puntillo believed he was fairly knowledgeable and well-read but discovered a new world of benefits and health care services for veterans as he undertook his veteran services work. He said the three major services provided to veterans are pension and other benefits, medical care and military burial.
The Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon needs about a two-week notice for the free burials that provide a free headstone and full military honors, Puntillo said.
The services can save families between $5,000 and $7,000, he said.
The veterans service director, who was born and raised in the Sacramento area, spoke about attending Catholic schools as a youth and said, with a smile, that the experience was good training for the military. He attended Christian Brothers High School in the 1960s.
Puntillo also said that his time as a local government official left him with a respect for such work. People criticize office holders, but the work is thankless and demanding, he said.
With every decision you make, he said, half of the people don’t like you.
Fairfield resident Glen Takahara, 71, who attended the meeting, praised local services for veterans.
“The VA in Fairfield does a great, great job,” Takahara said.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.