SEMINOLE — It wouldn't be unlike Robert Dulin to demand something for nothing, his brother said. And apparently that's what he wanted Tuesday when he showed up at the Seminole district office of Congressman C.W. Bill Young.
The 58-year-old disabled man walked the 2 miles from his home at the Pine Tree Manor assisted living facility in Largo to ask about getting medical benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said Young's chief-of-staff, Harry Glenn.
He wasn't a veteran, Dulin told the office staff. But his father had been. That, he thought, entitled him to veterans benefits.
He visited the office, at 9210 113th St., for about an hour Tuesday morning, Glenn said, where staffers explained that he was ineligible for VA benefits.
After that, he left to walk home. No one has seen Robert Dulin since.
The disappearance is unusual, said Tom Dulin, 61, who lives down the street from his brother's facility and now worries for his well-being.
"He's really just too vulnerable," he said. "People take advantage of him. He doesn't always get along with people."
The brothers grew up in Florida, but lived briefly in Virginia in the 1970s. That's where the younger Dulin was seriously injured in a crash during an auto race in 1978, his brother said. Robert Dulin suffered brain damage that eventually rendered him unable to live on his own. He has lived at Pine Tree Manor for about seven years and takes many daily medications. The facility reported him missing Wednesday, more than 24 hours after he failed to return. A facility administrator did not return calls for comment.
Tom Dulin's mind oscillates between the possibilities. The best case, he said, is that his brother is in a hospital, perhaps recovering from a panic attack or other medical episode. That is what he hopes.
"He's not crazy. He's not aggressive," he said. "If he met somebody who would listen to him, he would talk their ear off."
Other scenarios are more worrisome.
"He's pretty defenseless," he said. "If somebody bigger than he is got physical with him, they would be able to physically control him."
If he was harmed, Dulin's brother thinks he would have been found by now. If he is okay, he would be hard to miss — he has a glass right eye and walks with a distinctive gait, his elbow bent with his arm close to his body and one or two fingers pointed outward.
"I just want him to come home," Tom Dulin said. "It's an awful feeling not knowing where he is."
Anyone with information regarding Robert Dulin’s whereabouts is asked to call the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at (727) 582-6200.