San Francisco News

WWII vet gets benefits fixed after complaints of backlog at VA

Monday, May 28, 2012

This Memorial Day, President Barack Obama made a promise to America's veterans, saying, "As long as I'm president, we will make sure you and your loved ones receive the benefits you've earned and the respect you deserve." They are words that many hope he will truly deliver on.

Jake Ventrello, 93, was with hundreds of other veterans at a meeting last Monday called by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to help them get their overdue benefit claims.

Ventrello fought in World War II. He was a decorated soldier.

Family friend June Cantor accompanied Ventrello to the meeting. They have been trying to get the Department of Veterans Affairs' Oakland office to raise his disability to 100 percent. They've waged a frustrating battle for a year and a half.

"Nobody knows nothing, nobody can give you any answers, you just get this runaround and runaround," Cantor said.

A government audit found that veterans are waiting an average 320 days for the Oakland office to process their claims.

At the meeting, Cantor told a VA official just how frustrating it has been. His response was "I sincerely apologize. I'm here to tell you, we're going to fix it."

Suddenly on Friday, Speier's office, which has been helping Ventrello, called to give him the good news.

"That his claim had been granted for everything that we asked for, so that was great," Cantor said.

The Memorial Day party at his home turned into a celebration as well, for his hard won victory.

Still, Ventrello and his wife Kathleen worry about all the young veterans who have long pending claims.

"After waiting all these years, it's not fair to leave them behind," Ventrello said.

"Look at all these people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan," Ventrello's wife said. "What is their outlook? And it just has to be fixed.

They say it's unfair for veterans to have to fight two wars.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
veterans, memorial day, jackie speier, barbara lee, military, san francisco news, vic lee
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