All it takes is a little teamwork ...
Michael and George work together twice a week at Andrews Air Force Base, near the nation's capitol. As Pre-Discharge Claims Representatives, they help men and women who are preparing to leave the armed forces with VA claims, educational and medical benefits, VA home loans, and more.
Fairly new to the field, George began in January of 2011. Michael—who spent three years as a VFW State Service Officer in Massachusetts before moving to this position in March 2011—immediately took George under his wing. Both have a life-long connection to the military, and to the VFW.
George's mother served in the Navy in the 1960s, and his father was a Marine in Vietnam. George followed suit and served in the Army during Desert Storm. After the war, he joined Post 1433 in his hometown of Glendale, Ariz.
"I knew I wanted to be in law enforcement someday," said George. "I thought joining the Army would make me a better cop, and it did. I spent 20 great years on the force."
Michael's father, a member of VFW Post 2017 in Michael's hometown of Dedham, Mass., served in the Navy during the Korean War. His mother is a Past President of the Post's Ladies Auxiliary. Michael went on to join the Army, spending time in Korea and Germany.
"The military has really been a way of life for us. It's what we know," said Michael. "We just use what we've learned to help others. It's how we do right by our fellow veterans."
As dedicated veterans and self-proclaimed "VFW brats," George Burke and Michael Figlioli make the perfect team—a striking combination that could only mean more justice for the veterans they serve.
"Word is spreading pretty quickly," said Michael. "One person will be impressed with our service and suddenly their friends and colleagues are reaching out."
It's this word-of-mouth effect that brought in almost the entire retiring crew of Air Force One, as well as the crew responsible for maintaining the Presidential Limo, nicknamed "The Beast."
"It's great to work with high-profile people," said George, "but at the end of the day, it's the everyday veterans that need our help the most. They're the real reason this job is so rewarding. They make it easy to get up and go to work every day."
After a year, George and Michael are hopeful for the future, and look forward to continuing their productive working relationship for years to come.
"Applying for VA benefits is not a step, it's a journey," said George. "We are confident that we will get justice for these vets. That's what keeps us going."
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars