Jerry DeWitt's business card simply says “Doc,” a nickname he inherited from his fellow veterans.
Considering his service as a flight medic, paramedic, emergency medical technician, and licensed practical nurse, DeWitt wears the name well as he looks back on his military career.
“In high school, I was a Civil Air Patrol Cadet and my plan was to join the Air Force as an Airman 3rd Class,” said DeWitt. Because of a family circumstance, DeWitt was unable to finish high school, which was a requirement to join the Air Force. “So, I joined the Army, instead, in 1964.”
DeWitt, who is 65 years old, is originally from Ohio and now lives in New Gloucester, Maine. He served in the military for 28 years retiring with the rank of Sergeant First Class. His service took him to Korea and stateside locations during the time of the Vietnam War. “I guess they needed me elsewhere,” quipped DeWitt.
DeWitt is best known in Maine for his commitment to services for veterans. His resume in this area is substantial and impressive. He has served as the national chairman for the American Red Cross Services to Veterans and Families and as national chairman for Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services. He has provided service to many VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) posts and has been active with the Franco-American War Veterans.
In 2008, he went to Iraq as assistant station manager for emergency communications for the American Red Cross.
“Every day, it was about 120 degrees. It gets so that you don’t want to know what the temperature is,” said DeWitt.
Currently, he is a Vista volunteer with Tri-County Mental Health Services where he is a veteran’s outreach coordinator. In this role, he’s an advocate for veterans’ services and his passion to help is at the forefront.
“Veterans suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), depression and suicides,” said DeWitt. “And with the current wars, there’s stress on veterans and their families regarding their deployments.”
DeWitt also helps veterans through a maze of applications required to obtain various services.
“This is the 1010 EZ form,” explained DeWitt, unfolding a multilayered form that doesn’t look “easy” to complete at all. He also pointed to another 14-page form that must be completed to request services.
Another major focus for his work centers on female veterans.
“Too often, female veterans have been forgotten,” said DeWitt, noting that it wasn’t until recent decades that women had access to all veterans’ benefits and services. He’s working on an event slated for December that will remote broadcast a program targeted to female veterans in rural areas.
“We want to get information out to them so they know what is available.”
DeWitt is reflective when asked what his advice might be to a youngster considering military service.
“It is not worth risking your life in the military if you are joining just to get educational benefits,” said DeWitt. “However, if you want to join the military to serve your country, that’s a whole other discussion.”