Dennis Mull, a retired combat engineer with more than 20 years of service in the U.S. Army, kept feeling the pull to serve. After the 9/11 attacks, he found his chance through a law enforcement career when the Department of Defense waived age limits.
This new opportunity took Mull to Virginia where his duties ranged from a patrol officer to training sergeant to Special Reaction Team (SRT) breacher.
“I was the oldest person to ever complete the U.S. Army SRT course and the Virginia Tactical Officers course,” said Mull.
“I thrive on physically and mentally challenging careers. I also supervised the Ft. Lee Special Olympics program since law enforcement has always been very involved in the program, and I worked closely with the Army Substance Abuse Program when I was the training sergeant.”
Mull was severely injured in the line of duty in 2004 and had extensive shoulder surgery. During his recovery, which took more than a year, he was told he would never be able to patrol again. But Mull was a fighter and knew nothing would keep him from answering the call of duty.
“I did return to duty and a year later was back on the SRT. My struggle motivated many other officers to strive to return to duty despite injuries,” Mull said.
The experience also gave him a passion for advocating for people with disabilities, especially those who faced challenges due to accidents, age or military service.
“My retirement cake was a handicapped parking sign for my zeal in supporting the disabled,” Mull recalled.
“My lieutenant jokingly accused me of asking people to call since so many would call and praise my efforts unsolicited.”
While in Virginia, Mull was a member and post commander with VFW Posts 2239 and 8046, and he was honored with the VFW Virginia and National Law Enforcement Award of the Year. He now lives in Tennessee and is a member and past commander of VFW Post 2166.
When Mull retired from law enforcement, he qualified for the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA). He currently serves other retired law enforcement officers in Northeast Tennessee as a firearms qualifier for the LEOSA program.
Mull also takes pride in being part of multiple veterans organizations and working as a service officer to assist veterans with VA disability claims. Local media have even covered his efforts to bring attention to the needs of veterans with disabilities through participation in 5K runs.
Earning notice as a hometown hero means a lot to Mull, and he’s grateful that he can help fellow veterans get the benefits they’ve earned. Always busy, he’s recently returned to graduate school and is in a program at East Tennessee State University. He believes his time in the Army set him on the path to never stop pursuing excellence for himself and making a difference for others.
“I would serve again, even now, if the opportunity came about,” said Mull.
“Military service was one of the best things that happened to a young man who had no plan for the future. It was my privilege to serve.”