FORT WALTON BEACH — Karen Kile always has been a problem-solver.
She ensured her son’s girlfriend’s brother came home from Japan in time to say goodbye to his dying father.
When Kile discovered that her own father, a Vietnam and Korean War veteran, wasn’t receiving his full benefits, she secured them for him and her mother.
Her advocacy and tenacity has ensured that countless veterans have received the benefits due them.
“I don’t know if it was something I was supposed to do in life or if it was something I just stepped up to do,” said Kile, who is 55.
The Gulf War veteran who lives in Florosa began her work as an advocate after she returned from Desert Storm. She became angry over the initial dismissal of Gulf War Illness, a chronic disorder with variety of symptoms reported by returning soldiers.
“Don’t tell me the best of the best went over there and then came back sick,” Kile said.
Effective July 28, 2013, The Honorable Jose D. Riojas, currently serving as Interim Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security, and Preparedness, will be appointed the sole duties and responsibilities of the Chief of Staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Riojas has served the Department honorably for the last four years as Assistant Secretary, and I look forward to his continued impact as Chief of Staff.