As part of DVNF’s commitment to serving the men and women who have stood in our defense, we know how important it is to have team members who have been in their shoes. The following story gives some background on one of the veterans working at DVNF.

John Paruch takes a photo with a veteran at the 2016 Wheelchair Games

John Paruch, DVNF’s Director of Corporate Sponsorships and Foundation Relations, has been with the organization since 2015. John, like so many veterans, is humble by nature.

“I always say I was a veteran in the loosest sense of the word. I didn’t serve during any conflict, and really didn’t do anything very significant.”

Many veterans often express this same sentiment, but it’s important for them to remember that willingly putting your life on the line – regardless of the presence of conflict or not – is something that should be admired and respected.

John, originally from the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, Michigan, joined the Navy when he was 17. He was was a Radar Operator onboard a couple different destroyers. The first was a WWII Class Destroyer, DD 866, the USS Cone. Then, after extensive intelligence and naval warfare training, he was sent to a Guided Missile Destroyer, DDG 39, the USS MacDonough. His home base was in Charleston, SC and the longest cruises he was on were for about a month. Both of them included stops at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

John came from a modest background as a kid. He wanted to go to college, and he joined the Navy for the opportunity to make that dream a reality. 

Another motivation for him to enlist was his desire to see the world. However, he admitted, “I didn’t see much of it, but traveling to some of the Caribbean Islands was a big thrill for me.”

John, referring to his service as it related to combat, said that he felt fortunate to have done so little, but to have received so much in return. Instead, he felt a sense of obligation to his fellow veterans.

“I like helping our veterans that did so much more than I did, and were injured or disabled as a result. I feel it’s the least I can do and think all Americans should help those who have made those sacrifices.” 

After completion of his service in the Navy, John went to college and got his degree from Michigan State University, and he said that his time in the military had a lasting effect on him. He went to college a more mature individual, having learned some valuable life lessons which made him a better student.

When asked what advice he would give to a veteran transitioning into civilian life, he said, “Try to use the discipline you were taught in the military to make you a better worker, student, husband, father, or whatever it is you are doing at any time in your life.”

John is as humble as he is friendly, and has a genuine desire to serve others. DVNF is thrilled to have him on our staff, and we all want to thank him for his service – even if he thinks that appreciation isn’t warranted.