Meet Reading’s Veteran Service Officer

Kevin Bohmiller Supports Reading’s Veterans

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“Reading Town Hall,” Reading Public Library, Reading, Mass., accessed December 27, 2020,

Josh Bedingfield ('21), Orbit Contributor

In 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed into law an executive order that created the Veterans Administration. About 45 years later, high school senior Kevin Bohmiller was participating in the Massachusetts State Track Meet here on the campus of RMHS.  What do these two things have in common? Mr. Bohmiller later became a Veteran Service Officer for Reading and has been making a positive impact on the lives of veterans ever since.

What is a Veteran Service Officer?  In short, they work in a particular town to provide information to the veteran and his family for information about benefits.  Then, the Veteran Service Officer helps determine if they are eligible for those benefits and helps them file a claim to the Veterans’ Administration for the benefits they are eligible for.  The bureaucracy of benefits set up for veterans is broad, and Veteran Service Officers help veterans navigate that bureaucracy to find the benefits they have earned.

Leading up to his time as a Veteran Service Officer, Kevin Bohmiller had an interesting life.  He attended the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth as a business major, but since he was joining the workforce while the economy was bad, he decided to attend Officer Candidate School to become a commissioned officer in the Navy.  After graduating OCS and commissioning, he was sent out to Oakland CA, and was stationed on the USS Marrs.  This job required shipment of supplies (fuel, ammunition, food, toilet paper… you name it) to battle groups in the Pacific Ocean.  Their route from Oakland to Hawaii, stopped in the Philippines, then went to the Indian Ocean.  Next was the island known as Diego Garcia, a logistical point and British Indian ocean territory.

Tell veterans to tell their stories. Ask questions and listen.

— Kevin Bohmiller, Veteran Service Officer


Load up, meet the battle group. Offload.  That was the cycle.  Go to Muscat, Oman at the opening of the Persian Gulf.  Load up and bring out to the battle group.  In the span of three years, Mr. Bohmiller accomplished two of these six-month deployments.

Mr. Bohmiller did other assignments in his time as a supply officer, and in total spent seven years on active duty.  He then spent fifteen years in the reserves and retired in 2004.  After active duty, Mr. Bohmiller got married and spent eighteen years working for a software company.  Finally, while volunteering at the VA hospital in Dedham, he decided he wanted to become a Veteran Service Officer.

Mr. Bohmiller has worked to help all kinds of veterans.  Most notably he helped a Bataan Death March Survivor, who spent three-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war under the Japanese Imperial Army.  His name was Bernard Pothier, and he was 99 years old when he was sent to Mr. Bohmiller by a relative. He was never promoted, and Mr. Bohmiller helped him get promoted.  Though he met the requirements of a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, he was never awarded them; Mr. Bohmiller endeavored to ensure the record was correct.  Mr. Bohmiller got politicians involved in Potheir’s process in the VA.  As a solider, Mr. Pothier had suffered, in the words of Mr. Bohmiller, “Every tropical disease under the sun.”  Luckily, through Kevin’s knowledge of the variety of benefits Mr. Pothier was applicable for, he was able to get the help he earned.

Other than that specific incredible story, Mr. Bohmiller has helped so many more veterans.  He said mainly now he works with Vietnam War Veterans, as the chemical known as agent orange, which was used in Vietnam, is often the cause of diseases later in life.  He also said that Vietnam War Veterans unfortunately were not welcomed home as they should have been.  The political climate was hot in the late ’60s and early ’70s, so young men who served in Vietnam were not treated with the care they deserved.  They were told to just live their lives, having PTSD and war trauma left unattended.  PTSD, Mr. Bohmiller said, often catches up to these veterans late in life as they retire and settle down.  Drug and Alcohol abuse is is somewhat prevalent among these veterans, especially if PTSD has gone untreated.

Knowing the immense sacrifice veterans have taken for this country, what can the citizens of Reading do to help?  “Tell veterans to tell their stories,” Mr. Bohmiller explained in our interview. “Ask questions and listen. Only about 1% of people in the United States are veterans, and that number is shrinking.  Continue to pass on the stories so we do not repeat struggles of the past.”  These words are noble, humble, and utterly important.  People like Kevin Bohmiller set an incredible example of kindness and service to one’s country.  Citizens of Reading should be proud that we have someone like Mr. Bohmiller to represent our Veteran Service Officer position.  If we follow his advice, we can work to create a better world, and better appreciate veterans who have selflessly given so much.