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Dan Portaro


U.S. Army Veteran

My Story

Dan was raised on a tobacco farm in the Piedmont, N.C., area and graduated from Ledford High School in 1968.

Dan served in the Army (1970-1971) and did a tour of duty in Vietnam with the 1st Signal Brigade and the 101st Airborne Division serving in Phu Lam, Quantri, Phu Bai, and Kahsan, Vietnam.

Dan has a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from Western Carolina University. He married Cathy Stutts, whom he met at Western. Dan worked at Durham County General Hospital as a lab technician. 

He completed a master’s degree at N.C. State University. He then worked as the chemistry supervisor at Durham County Hospital (now Duke Regional) for eight years and worked as an applications chemist for Beckman Instruments, Inc. for 18 years.

He has also worked in the fields of pharmaceuticals with several major manufacturers, consulting, and construction of both residential and commercial applications. His last job was with the North Carolina DMV as a driver's license examiner in Roxboro, where he retired for in 2014.

Dan has written two books. The first book was a memoir titled Second Son/Fortunate One. His second book, An Unexpected Journey, was released in December 2023.

Cathy and Dan celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on August 27, 2022, and they have three children; Gaetana, Jacob, and Jeffrey; and seven grandchildren; Marc, Noah, Alaina, Grayson, William, Gavin, and Cora.

Dan was diagnosed in 2019 with PTSD and moved in and out of the mental health system with the VA until it was suggested he try getting a service dog. It was then, in late 2020, that Dan found Vets to Vets United and met Dr. Terry Morris and found his forever support animal Bailey.

Bailey and Dan trained with the Vets to Vets United program for almost two years and Baily is certified as a therapy dog through Pet Partners, Inc. Dan hopes he can be of some value and service to this wonderful organization by serving as a member of their board.

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