Richard "Dick" Gorby's office in the Deschutes County Parole and Probation building is lined with pictures. A photograph of his father in military dress, a map of wartime Vietnam and photos of Gorby holding plaques, surrounded by veterans, family, friends and the parolees he works with every day.
Gorby, a Vietnam veteran - he served as a minesweeper from '63 to '65 - has always been active in veterans affairs. But it wasn't until just 15 years ago when he realized he suffered from PTSD related to the war that he changed his profession from marketing to social services, leaving behind what he called his "money years."
Gorby now runs cognitive programs for those on parole and probation, helping to "correct" thinking and reintegrate offenders back into society.
"I love mental health," he says as he shows me books upon books on cognitive thinking. "Mental health is the key to success."
And he should know. Gorby himself still battles PTSD and tears up when talking about the current crop of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. He says that he feels the need to help others because of his experiences in Vietnam. In addition to working with incarcerated veterans in his job, Gorby also serves on the board of Vietnam Veterans of America, Oregon State Council, where he was president for five years.
When I arrive at Gorby's office, he takes out a thick folder. In it are heartfelt thank you letters from veterans and offenders he's helped, from a former criminal he facilitated rehab for to a veteran in Christmas Valley who has received VA claims because of Gorby's advocacy. There are letters about a new active duty license plate and a court specifically for veterans, which are both in the process of being instated, thanks in part to Gorby's work.
While Gorby is proud of his work with offenders, he feels his most important work is with incarcerated veterans.
"I like to think I serve the veteran, not the criminal," he says."They have it tough. They're going out and serving their country and coming back to no jobs. They did not leave for duty a criminal. They're coming back and doing criminal things."
Gorby has made a name for himself as a vocal, passionate advocate for incarcerated veterans. And lucky for them, Gorby, 66, has no plans to retire.
"Ain't going to happen," he says with a smile.
Richard "Dick" Gorby
Occupation: Cognitive Programs Specialist, Parole and Probation, Deschutes County
Family: Married to Diane Gorby. Children: Scott, 40 and Matt, 34.
Personal hero: "The men and women who serve our country."