VET OWED AN APOLOGY.
Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY Dennis McCarthy may refer to:
LA CRESCENTA - Russell King Russell King is the maintainer of the ARM architecture in the Linux Kernel. He did the original porting of the Linux kernel to that architecture and has since maintained and kept the code in sync. External links
You served bravely in World War II, fought at the Battle of the Bulge Battle of the Bulge, popular name in World War II for the German counterattack in the Ardennes, Dec., 1944–Jan., 1945. It is also known as the Battle of the Ardennes. On Dec. , and were a prisoner of war PRISONER OF WAR. One who has been captured while fighting under the banner of some state. He is a prisoner, although never confined in a prison.
2. In modern times, prisoners are treated with more humanity than formerly; the individual captor has now no for five months - spending Christmas Day 1944 digging graves outside the concentration camp barbed wire barbed wire, wire composed of two zinc-coated steel strands twisted together and having barbs spaced regularly along them. The need for barbed wire arose in the 19th cent. to bury the bodies of your buddies who couldn't make it. You could barely stand yourself from malnutrition.
When you were discharged from the service a year later in December 1945, you were awarded the Purple Heart Purple Heart
U.S. medal awarded to those wounded in military action. [Am. Hist.: Misc.]
See : Bravery for the wounds you received in action at Luchenwald, Germany.
Your country also awarded you the World War II Victory Medal Victory Medal can refer to one of three military decorations:
It's all there in your honorable discharge honorable discharge
Discharge from the armed forces with a commendable record.
Noun 1. honorable discharge - a discharge from the armed forces with a commendable record records - what you did for this country more than 55 years ago when we needed you and hundreds of thousands of other young men to leave their families and go halfway around the world to save the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. .
You were never the same man when you got home, your wife Pauline says. You had seen too much, been hurt too badly.
What you never expected was that your own government would add to the hurt.
When your hearing started to go and you became totally deaf in 1950 - losing your job in the process because a deaf construction worker was just too risky to insure - you went to the government for help.
Your doctor said the hearing loss certainly could be service-related. You knew there wasn't any ``could be'' about it. It was related.
You remembered all those nights in the concentration camp sleeping with one eye open because you didn't know whether this would be another night the Nazis wanted to have some fun by setting off a grenade outside the barracks bar·rack 1
tr.v. bar·racked, bar·rack·ing, bar·racks
To house (soldiers, for example) in quarters.
1. A building or group of buildings used to house military personnel. - blowing out the windows and deafening the sleeping POWs being blasted out of their bunks.
Your government said that after carefully considering your claim, it determined your hearing condition was not incurred by military service.
You asked them to reconsider and they did, denying your claim again and again, until you finally missed a one-year appeals deadline, and couldn't file anymore. It was the law. Sorry.
What they did give you in 1961 was a 10 percent disability for varicose veins Varicose Veins Definition
Varicose veins are dilated, tortuous, elongated superficial veins that are usually seen in the legs.
Description worth $19 a month. Last year, that payment had gotten all the way up to $101 a month.
All those years you were shortchanged never sat right with you or Pauline. The government shouldn't be turning its back on guys who came home different than when they went off to fight a war, you argued.
But no one seemed to be listening, Russ.
You spent most of those years bouncing around from odd job to odd job, but employers weren't much interested in hiring a deaf vet permanently. So you started your own small, one-man construction business out of your La Crescenta home, and eked out a living.
Russ, you weren't alone in feeling bitter, says Martin Christie, commander of the San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. Chapter of American Ex-POWs. A lot of guys did.
``The handling of disability cases is different now than it was back then,'' Christie says. ``Then, it was how many of these cases can we winnow out Verb 1. winnow out - dismiss from consideration or a contest; "John was ruled out as a possible suspect because he had a strong alibi"; "This possibility can be eliminated from our consideration"
rule out, eliminate, reject and not have to pay.
``Now, it's let's make sure we're doing it right and not screwing these guys,'' he said. ``We have some people in the VA championing us now.''
You've got one, Russ, but they won't tell me his name. All I know is that in July 2000 when your file crossed his desk at the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Los Angeles Regional Office, he knew something wasn't right.
``He's a combat vet who, like a lot of us, knows how close we came to becoming that POW,'' said John Paxson, public affairs officer for VA regional center.
``American history, for as far back as you want to go, has had its wrinkles in dealing with veterans, but our job right now is to ensure that every ex-POW gets every VA benefit he is entitled to,'' Paxson said.
On his own, Russ, the guy put you in for something called an ex-POW protocol exam, and in March, you got the good news.
The government that said in 1960 your hearing loss was not service-related changed its mind. You were now 100 percent hearing-loss disabled.
Instead of just getting $101 a month for varicose veins, you'd be getting $2,558 a month full disability now.
They cut you a check for $17,000, dating back to July 2000, when your case was reopened after being sent to them by George Dixon, a former DAV See WebDAV. representative at the Sepulveda VA, who agreed you weren't getting all you deserved.
Pauline thanked them for the $17,000, then asked where the money from the last 40 years was.
``They said I should be happy, that the $17,000 was enough for us to go around the world,'' she said last week.
Russ is turning 81 next month and has cancer, she told them. A nice trip around the world right now isn't exactly in their plans.
Pauline was notified last week that her husband's claim for an earlier date of service disability, say around 1960 instead of 2000, had been denied.
She plans to appeal under something called the ``clear and unmistakable error'' policy, which allows vets relief for past VA screw-ups and oversights.
``He was deaf then; he's deaf now,'' Pauline says. ``What changed? If we deserve the money now, we deserved it 40 years ago.''
Dixon, who is now a veterans benefits counselor for the county of Los Angeles at the Sepulveda VA outpatient clinic, says Pauline and Russ should continue to appeal.
``Tell them to continue the battle because it ain't over till it's over,'' he said Friday.
Also weighing in is the Kings' congressman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, who has already contacted the VA on King's behalf, said Paul Hubler, Schiff's deputy chief of staff.
Whichever way the final decision goes, the whole thing stinks.
It shouldn't be that a man who spent Christmas Day in a concentration camp burying his buddies, ducking grenades being tossed by laughing Nazis, should come home and be put through all this by his own government.
Having to go hat in hand for 40 years for the disability payments he deserves.
I know it's late, Russ, but it's the best we can do.
For what it's worth, your country owes you an apology.
(color) Russell King is fighting on two fronts - for his life against cancer, and against the VA, seeking long-denied, World War II-earned benefits.
Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer