Stoughton Patch's Town Employee Spotlight profiles dedicated town employees whose hard work contributes to the continued betterment of our community.
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Mike Pazyra, Veterans Agent, Department of Veterans Services
While the term Veterans’ Agent may have some think of memorials and parades, Mike Pazyra explains that, in fact, such things are a minimal component in his job scope.
With the bulk of the town’s sixth-largest operating budget coming from state and federal funds, Pazyra stays busy guiding both veterans and families of fallen veterans through the process of identifying and seeking the benefits afforded to them.
Pazyra is a veteran himself, serving stateside from 1973-1975 during the Vietnam War. His son Danny served in the Iraq War.
Of course, Pazyra is passionate about honoring those who served our country and therefore takes pride the annual Veterans Day Events. A great deal of time and effort go into the Veterans Day parade and Memorial Square Dedications and he is devoted to making sure these events remain meaningful for the town.
Pazyra has served as the town’s Veterans Agent for the last six-and-a-half years. He and his wife Cindy, an active member in the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce, live in Stoughton.
Admittedly, Pazyra enjoys the social service aspect of his job best and it is all these factors that make him an integral part of Stoughton’s town employee team.
Best word to describe my job…
Psychology. So much of what I do is asking open-ended questions. I try to draw as much information as possible from veterans or their families to ensure they receive the correct benefits for their individual circumstances.
My Job Entails…
The largest aspect of my job is filing claims. Claims take an average of six months to be processed.
Vietnam Veterans are the biggest population of veterans that I deal with. Agent Orange has led to a multitude of service related disabilities, including cancer and diabetes.
Another large demographic I work with is veterans’ widows and families. Often times they are unaware of the benefits they are entitled to.
This position is right for me…
Prior to this job my background was business. With an MBA in finance, I found my roles as Controller and later C.F.O. to be quite rewarding, but not like this! I find the service-based focus of government extremely satisfying.
Favorite part of the job…
Again, it would be the service aspect. Helping alleviate as much stress as possible from the veterans and their families by helping process their claims and answer any questions.
Frustrations of the job…
The fact that claims take so long to be processed, the average is six months, but they can take much longer than that.
How has the large number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq impacted your job? How do you expect it to change when they are fully withdrawn?
Surprisingly, the least amount of my work deals with those coming home. I of course meet with them and establish their circumstances. But primarily I help them file claims like the generous "welcome home bonus" that the Commonwealth provides to all soldiers.
Since so much of what I do is with the widows of Vietnam, WWII and Korean Veterans, I do not anticipate much of an impact when the troops return.
When I am off the clock…
My wife, Cindy, and I love to be with our grandchildren! If we are not spending time with them then I am golfing or doing yard work.
I am the Secretary and Treasurer for the Massachusetts Service Officers Association, which also keeps me busy.
For questions about benefits or other veteran-related concerns, contact Veterans Agent Mike Pazyra at 781-341-1300 x9220.