The Service Connection – Fall 2019

The Service Connection – Fall 2019

HIREVets Platinum Medallion

New Attorney Spotlight

National Press Club

Don Fiedler Award

COLA Increase

Dining Out Ceremony

Giving Thanks for Veterans!

By John Stevens Berry, Sr.

We enter that time of year when we pause to count our blessings and to give thanks for them. We also pause as a nation to remember the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 – the ending of World War I – which we celebrate now as Veterans Day. Every year, we set this time aside to recall with gratitude the men and women who wear our nation’s uniform. I’m grateful to be one of them. I’m grateful to have served alongside them. And I’m grateful for each one of you that answered the nation’s call to serve.

This year, Hollywood has released a major motion picture to bring to mind one of the most critical naval battles of World War II – The Battle of Midway. Our staff at Berry Law went en masse to see it at a local theater on Veterans Day. If you’ve not yet seen the movie Midway, I’d recommend you make the time to go. Featuring a $100 million production budget to recreate classic battle scenes, it’s one of the most expensive independent films ever made.

Be sure to make time to count your blessings this year and to be intentional about finding a person who wore the nation’s uniform (or their family members) and to thank them for the sacrifices they made for America’s freedom!

Berry Law Honored with HIREVets Award by US Dept. of Labor

The United States Department of Labor has awarded Berry Law the HIREVets Platinum Medallion, the highest Federal honor a company can receive for hiring and employing Veterans. Berry Law became the second company in Nebraska to ever win the Platinum Medallion and is the first law firm in America to receive the accolade. The award was formally presented to Berry Law at an awards banquet in Washington D.C. on November 6, 2019.

The award was established as part of the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans (HIRE Vets) Act, signed into law on May 5, 2017, and is designed to recognize employers who display a commitment to hiring our nation’s heroes. The award is the preeminent Federal-level Veterans’ employment award that recognizes an organization’s dedication to employing, training, and professionally developing America’s Veterans.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by the Federal government and the HIREVets program. My business philosophy is that success starts with assembling the best team available, and I believe that hiring Veterans onto our team is instrumental to building and maintaining a culture of excellence,” noted Berry Law CEO and US Army Veteran John S. Berry, “We often find that the Veterans we hire are the most disciplined and coachable members on our team, and I truly believe that more companies would benefit by prioritizing the hiring of Veterans.”

The medallions are awarded annually and are divided into two tiers: gold medallion awards and the even more exclusive platinum medallion awards. Platinum medallion winners must have hired Veterans for at least 10% of their prior year hires and retained more than 85% of Veterans hired for over 12 months. Veterans must also make up more than 10% of the business’ total employees.

Our team appreciates the recognition and we look forward to continuing to support Veterans both in the office and in the courtroom. Veterans on our team are essential to helping us fight on behalf of our clients, both fellow Veterans and civilians. We understand that without the trust of our clients, we would never have been able to receive this award. For that, we want to extend our gratitude.

New Attorney Spotlight

Josef Loukota, Esq.                        William M Kurtenbach, Esq.

Berry Law is excited to announce the addition of two new attorneys to our team.

Joe Loukota is a Veterans disability lawyer who helps fellow Veterans in their fight for disability compensation. A Navy Veteran himself, Joe served for six years in the US Navy as an aircraft safety equipment mechanic. He deployed on the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) for a Western Pacific deployment, as well as to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.

Bill Kurtenbach fights to ensure individuals accused of a crime receive the protections afforded to them under the Constitution of the United States. His desire to uphold the constitution and relentlessly pursue the most favorable outcome for his clients allows him to attack legal issues from every angle possible. Bill practices primarily in the area of criminal defense in the state of Nebraska.

We look forward to the contributions Joe and Bill will make in the fight to serve our clients.

John S. Berry, , and Berry Law Honored with “Pro Patria Award” from the ESGR

John S. Berry, , and Berry Law were recently honored with the Pro Patria award from the ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) on April 26th, 2019.

ESGR’s Pro Patria Award is presented annually by each ESGR State Committee to one small, one large, and one public sector employer in their state or territory. Recipients of the award must have demonstrated the greatest support to Guard and Reserve employees through their leadership and practices, including adopting personnel policies that make it easier for employees to participate in the National Guard and Reserve. This is the highest level award that may be bestowed by an ESGR State Committee.

Berry was honored to receive the award, noting how special it is to work with Veterans and Reservists: “To be able to work with Veterans— as well as current military members that are in the Guard and Reserves — it’s phenomenal,” he said. “These guys come motivated every day, they bring high standards and they do great things to improve our culture.”

The Firm currently employs active Navy and Marine Corps Reservists, and members of the Nebraska National Guard. Also on staff are Veterans from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, in addition to multiple military spouses, parents, and children. The Firm takes great pride in the service of its employees and actively supports them when mobilized or called to annual training and drill weekends.

John S. Berry, , has continued to uphold the tradition of providing quality legal counsel to Veterans in need, and built a team dedicated to supporting America’s Veterans. Our team currently assists Veterans facing criminal charges in the Midwest, supports Veterans with business, civil, military, and injury law, and also assists Veterans nationwide who are appealing VA decisions.

Berry Law Releases VA Disability Calculator

Determining your total VA disability payment can be difficult. Not only must Veterans be proficient in “VA math,” they must also understand the how the bilateral factor works and how it may change their combined disability percentage.

This is only the case if you know the exact disabilities you have and what they are rated at. However, if you want to estimate what a future payment may be if you are awarded disability compensation for a current claim or appeal, then you have to determine the percentage and go through the entire mathematical process again to figure out what your payment will be.

Because of the difficulty our clients have expressed in understanding how to calculate their VA disability payments, our team has put together a VA disability calulator. The VA disability calculator allows individuals to enter all of their individual disabilities to determine both their combined disability percentage and an estimate of the monthly payment amount. To use our VA disability calculator, please visit the link below.

75th Anniversary of the Battle at St. Lo

From July 15-18, 1944, Nebraska National Guards’ 134th Infantry Regiment liberated St. Lo, France, during World War II. A pivotal event in the war, the 134th Infantry Regiment lost 52 men in the span of 3 miles. This year will mark the 75th anniversary of the battle, and a ceremony will take place in France to commemorate the 52 fallen soldiers.

In remembrance of the soldiers killed during the attack, the Nebraska National Guard Museum will host its annual 5k and 1 mile run/walk on June 8th in Seward, Nebraska. The run will cover approximately 3.1 miles, the same distance the soldiers traveled while liberating St. Lo, France. The 5k will also feature 52 sentinels placed throughout the race with signage and memorials for each of the soldiers who lost their lives during the battle. If you would like to register for the event, you can do so at:

Readers’ Submissions

Navy Occurrences

By Doug Binks

We were loading surplus bombs to be dropped at the range. The bombs were probably 250 pounds each. The loading crew was six people, one officer, one ordnance man and four to lift. I was a flight engineer, in-training, at the time. My FE and I were standing about twenty feet from where a bomb was being loaded on a wing station.

The loading method was manual – brute force and awkwardness. We had two pipes about four feet long with what appeared to be the plug for a barrel bung welded to one end. The bombs had a threaded receptacle at the front and back that fit the plug. The method was to have two men front and back to lift the bomb from the cart that it was on. The initial lift was to waist level. The grip was changed to allow the remainder of the lift, up to the wing rack. The ordnance man secured it to the rack, and you were ready for the next one.

The bomb in this story was at waist level when the weld on the front pipe broke. The nose of the 250 pound bomb fell to the concrete. The two people in the back held tight. My FE, seeing what was happening, and possessing the fastest reflexes, closed his eyes and covered his ears! The bomb did not explode, until we dropped it at the range, later.

Short Round (Excerpt)

By Nolan Pepperdine

The screams were coming from off to my right. I ran in that direction. There was shouting and cursing and the acrid smell of gun powder. I slid to a stop as the screaming stopped. There was blood and shouts for a medic. Ford was looking up at me as he lay half way out of his night trench. His mouth was moving but no sound came out. A Dust Off was on its way and Ford was being medevac’d out.

We assumed Ford was dead, but he wasn’t. Someone said he was blown in two. Bob Ford died a few days later. I don’t know if he ever regained consciousness. The Professor was flown out with the investigators from HQ. Some said it was for his own protection, others said he had cracked up. I didn’t know, I never saw him again.

Poetic Justice

By Jimmie Smith

I tried all day to write a poem

But nothing came to mind

So I felt just like a big old diamond

That had suddenly lost its shine

But I could not stop or run amok

From my obvious loss of words

Cause a poem was in the making now

As I listened to the birds

So write you poet, I told myself

Be sure to put it all down

And never say you have nothing to say

Until they put you in the ground!

We love getting writing and art from our clients. If you would like to share some of your work or submit your dog for “Service Dog of the Quarter,” please send your pieces to your attorney or to

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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