2020 Veteran Hero Awards
Veteran Service Officer or Mentor
Organization Veterans Legal Institute
Position Legal Administrator/VA Specialist
Tim Kunze is our organization’s Legal Administrator/VA Specialist. Mr. Kunze joined us at the Veterans Legal Institute four years ago and his service has been nothing short of extraordinary. From when he began volunteering, Mr. Kunze has served over 80 clients and has worked beyond 4,000 hours at our organization. Mr. Kunze’s life of service began shortly after he received his bachelor's degree in music education when he decided to serve his nation and begin his military career. He started his career in the Army Reserves and following officer training school he joined the U.S. Air Force and was assigned to the 68th Bomb Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. After five years as an administrative officer, he cross-trained into information systems and spent the next five years at the Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama as a computer programmer/database administrator. Upon leaving the military, Mr. Kunze has worked as a Software developer and has recently turned his side job as a live music contractor, into a full-time position that he currently operates. Mr. Kunze is also on the board of two local orchestras. When he entered civilian life, Mr. Kunze started developing symptoms of an autoimmune disease that could only be traced back to exposure to toxic substances during his military assignments. Tim filed his own claim in 2010 which was initially denied. He then filed a Notice of Disagreement which resulted in a service connection for hearing loss and tinnitus but denial, again, for his neuropathy. That denial is currently under appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). When Mr. Kunze saw an article in the Orange County Register about VLI, he was inspired to contact them to offer the expertise gained from his dealings with the VA. Once he began volunteering a situation like his own came up. A widow came to the organization because the VA had denied her Dependents Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Mr. Kunze tried several lower-level venues to get the VA to grant the DIC. When those failed, VLI ended up filing an appeal. While the appeal is still in progress, Mr. Kunze is confident he made the right call. The evidence is overwhelming that her husband, a Vietnam Veteran, died as a result of complications from Agent Orange exposure. The world needs more people like Mr. Kunze. People who seek justice without expecting anything in return. The actions of Mr. Kunze have a positive ripple effect. This effect is not only seen through the widow receiving her justified compensation, but also in society as a whole because it demonstrates that as long as you have a supportive individual like Mr. Kunze by your side, the world is already a better place.