Distinguished Vietnam War Veteran Teaches Students at Rochester College

By Elijah Wajers
Shield Staff

Decorated war veteran and Detroit native Dr. John Todd received the Silent Heroes Award in September from the Detroit Veterans Coalition for legislative and advocacy work aiding his fellow comrades, however, there’s more to the man than just his work. 

Army Service

Todd served the Army from 1968 to 1969 in Vietnam as an Army helicopter pilot until North Vietnamese forces shot him down in combat, rendering him blind. “I’m blessed and lucky to be alive,” Todd said. Todd has been taught from birth to stay confident in himself and God.  Over time, he has learned to remain positive.

Lobbyist for Department of American Veterans

Following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, Todd went to law school at Georgetown University, and became a lobbyist for the Department of American Veterans, because he was interested in making veterans lives’ easier. His real involvement came, however, during the height of the anti-war movement that began in 1971. Todd stood up for his fellow veterans and was appalled at anti-war movement supporters. “They began to say that every Vietnam War veteran was a drug addict and a murderer,” Todd said. “So I went to CBS and gave an interview and decided to become a spokesman for the Vietnam War.” 

Todd Continues to Work Tirelessly for Veterans

That was in 1974.  Today, Todd continues to work tirelessly as an advocate for veterans. As a lobbyist for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, he wrote a law that Congress passed giving benefits to widows and orphans of veterans as well as disabled veterans. He started working in the Nixon Administration later that year as an advisor on veteran’s affairs until 1975.

Teaching Career at Rochester College

For a few years, Todd returned as a lobbyist for the DVA, then, after a meal with Michigan Christian College’s Dean of students and his wife, he began to consider teaching. He had been opposed to teaching since a Veteran’s Hospital advisor recommended that Todd could teach after his medical discharge from the army. “[The Dean’s] wife did not like teaching government, and after I told her all the work I did, she said ‘you should teach government!’” Todd said.

Once Todd came to Rochester College, his wife’s alma mater, he did not want to leave. In fact, Todd said he still wants to teach law and government “indefinitely”. “Ironically, I got exactly what I want,” Todd said. “ My brain still works and I give good lectures. I don’t want to retire. I get to be a lawyer sometimes. I just have got a fabulous life.” He said the motto that plays the biggest role in his life is “Love the Lord and thank him every day. I can’t be frustrated,” Todd said.