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After DAV’s assistance, Navy veteran gives back

Five days after his 17th birthday, in 1963, Joe Frederickson enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He had no way of knowing—as is often the case—how profoundly his life would change because of his military service. 

While his initial duty station at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was a prime location, he found work on a barracks cleaning crew and deck force unfulfilling. So, he developed new skills as a signalman and landed a spot in operations for the USS Safeguard in late 1965. 

The ship was homeported in Pearl Harbor, but made two trips to the Western Pacific and to Vietnam while Frederickson was assigned to her.

“We were docked in Yokosuka, Japan the night the U.S. destroyers were allegedly attacked by North Vietnamese PT boats and we immediately left for Vietnamese waters, spending time there up and down the coast in the Mekong Delta, and up some rivers performing salvage work for the most part.”

There, they worked 18-hour days in 100-degree heat; a full ship's work shift during the day and watch-standing while underway at all hours of the night. 

It wasn’t until five decades had passed—long after Frederickson had been honorably discharged, earned his degree through the G.I. Bill and built a life for himself—that he learned his service in the Navy had carried lifelong impacts. In April of 2016, he received unwelcome news. 

“When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I immediately contacted DAV for claim filing assistance,” said Frederickson. “Many years earlier, I'd established that my ship had been dosed with Agent Orange in 1965.”

With DAV’s assistance, he filed a fully developed claim which was approved. With DAV’s help, he was able to get his cancer recognized so he could get the care and benefits he earned.

“I am forever grateful for the DAV's assistance,” said Frederickson. “In my opinion, DAV is doing the best job among veterans’ service organizations for deserving veterans.”

After getting help, he wanted to do his part to give back. He trained to be a volunteer veterans benefits advocate for his local chapter. He’s a DAV leader in his community and ensures his fellow veterans don’t fall through the cracks. 

“The DAV is my top volunteer priority,” said Frederickson. “This is so because now that I’ve experienced how helpful we can be firsthand, I want to do as much as I can to help my veteran brothers and sisters.”

He said he’s learned that entirely too many deserving veterans have little if any idea of the benefits they've earned under the law, and he makes it his job to help them find justice.

“It’s a high calling that I, and my fellow chapter service officers, take seriously, to say nothing of the joy we feel when we learn that a veteran’s claim we’ve helped with has been approved,” said Frederickson.

Frederickson said he hopes more veterans become aware of what DAV can do for them.

“I wish more could become aware of the undeniable fact that DAV is the go-to place for veterans to learn about their benefits under the law,” he said. 


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