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Palm Coast People: David Lydon

According to the 2022 Census, there are nearly 11,000 veterans in Flagler County. I am one of them and stepping out of the active duty lifestyle and into the civilian world is a daunting task.
Because of the large group of veterans in this county, community centers like the county library in Palm Coast host an annual veterans’ fair. Veteran centered organizations set up tables ready to help anyone who wanders to them, and among them is David Lydon of the county Veterans Assistance Office.
David has been in this position for seven years. He had served in the Air Force in the Security Forces for 8 years on active duty and the last 31 years in the Reserves. During those 31 years, he had started and retired from a career in the New York State Police and worked as a private investigator and realtor.
Like many Florida residents, David is a transplant, having moved to the state in 2010 to avoid the gray skies and cold weather of New York. The quiet life of Flagler County beckoned and provided opportunity in the Veterans Assistance office in the Flagler County Building.
Having served himself, and with two sons both serving in the Army at this time, David has experienced and can empathize with the veterans who come into his office. Some seek his help on that first day of being a civilian, and many come after having separated for several years. All needing their VA benefits and medical help but are discouraged and confused by the entire system and process.
After a veteran submits a disability claim, the VA takes 150.25 days on average to make a decision. That is a long time to be left waiting. And life carries on. It is David’s job to sit with the veteran and draft these disability claims effectively to ensure the veteran receives the greatest coverage they are entitled to after their service.
The office’s 2023 annual report 5,283 veterans served for the year. That is almost 23 served a day in this office. David and his team closely monitor each claim from its submission to its resolution. If the resolution is not in the veteran’s favor, David re-evaluates the next step in resubmitting the claim.
These strategies include revisiting questionnaires, and drafting opinion letters with other doctors, which are submitted into the veteran’s medical records prior to the disability resubmission. Laws regarding veterans benefits change regularly, each change and David receives the notification.
For example, in August 2022, the PACT Act ensured expanded benefits for victims of burn pits, and for Vietnam vets for Agent Orange. The VA received a million claims from that alone and had been working through a backlog of 600 thousand cases. Now the backlog is estimated at 400 claims and is shrinking every day. All of this is free of charge, as well.