Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rep John Hall NY works for veterans

Congressman John Hall delivers veterans benefits

WWII vet gets long delayed benefits

Buchanan - In a nation where hundreds of thousands of war veterans remain backlogged in the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system, one elderly veteran in the Hudson Valley is finally seeing justice more than six decades after he left the service.

World War II Navy veteran Ken MacDonald, 84, of Buchanan received a symbolic check for just over $100,000 from Congressman John Hall Tuesday, as retroactive reimbursement for not receiving the appropriate benefits while serving in the Pacific.

MacDonald, a First Class Seaman, served on two different carrier ships during the Pacific Campaign in the 1940s -- one of them sunk by a torpedo, the other taken down by Japanese kamikaze planes.

“I got two ships knocked from under me during the war, one in the Mediterranean and one in the Caribbean,” he said. The sailor survived both attacks, helped save the lives of many of his fellow shipmates, and was traumatized by the events.

He was denied disability benefits from the first day he attempted to secure them in 1947, and apparently it was the result of semantics.

The VA diagnosed the veteran back in 1947 as having schizophrenia, a non-service related disease, instead of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which MacDonald is now said to have suffered from.

Hall wants to prevent that from happening to other service personnel.

“One of the ways that we can help is by screening every soldier, sailor or airman who separates from their service and becomes a veteran,” he said. “As they leave active duty, they should be screened for PTSD at least.”

MacDonald’s neighbor and close friend, Al Donohue, has been trying to get benefits for his buddy since 1975. He said it wasn’t until he contacted Hall that he felt something would finally be done about his friend’s problem.


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