By Kelly Just, Special Projects Executive Producer - email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
A little-known military pension program called Aid and Attendance offers help to U.S. veterans who are suffering from ill health and one family is seeing the benefits firsthand.
Robert Hall-Herron, 59, served his country proudly for 15 years in the Air Force, including service in the Vietnam War. Herron is a veteran but Brigida Goree of Olathe, KS, thinks of him simply as her brother.
"He's a funny guy. He's full of jokes. His normal conversation will crack you up." Goree said.
But Herron's time after the military wasn't funny at all. The Louisiana native found himself in Texas working odd jobs, including at a warehouse. Then Herron's health started going downhill.
"He got to the point where he was losing his vision and he had a bad case of arthritis in both knees. So he wasn't able to work. And with that, he fell on very hard times, where he ended up homeless, pretty much," Goree said.
Goree and her husband Terence did what any caring family member would do if they were able – they went to Texas, got Herron and brought him back, moving him in with them. While Herron was living in Olathe, Goree had a random conversation with a friend who happens to be a military retiree helping other veterans.
"He was helping them get some of their benefits together, said he had found out that my brother was here, he mentioned it to us, that there is, benefits, there are programs for veterans that need help," Goree said.
The program Goree was told about was the Aid and Attendance pension.
"This is a benefit that you've earned. You served your country, and it's time for your country to do a service to you. Definitely put your pride aside. Again, it's something you're entitled to," Ron Cherry, a VFW service officer, said.
The pension has also just gone up in value, paying a qualified veteran with a spouse $2,024 a month, a single veteran $1,704, a veteran with a sick spouse $1,338, and even the veteran's surviving spouse $1,094.
"We pride ourselves on taking care of veterans," Cherry said of why he does what he does.
Herron initially received a small percentage of the pension, but he then suffered a stroke last December. Cherry filed more paperwork and, a few months later, Herron got the news he was being awarded full benefits.
Goree said while the money is great, the benefits did much more than put cash in her brother's pocket.
"He's very proud, and he didn't want a handout so he really wanted to have benefits of his own to take care of himself, and he couldn't work anymore," Goree said. "So, these benefits gave him the opportunity to be independent again."
Since seeing its benefits firsthand, Goree has been telling anyone she can about the Aid and Attendance pension.
"It's worth the time to seek out an advocate to fill out the paperwork, to see if they qualify for the benefits from the V. A.," she said.
Veterans who have at least 90 days of active duty service with at least one of those days during a wartime period are eligible to apply for the program. The periods of war include World War I and World War II, The Korean Conflict, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf War.
For more information on the Aid and Attendance pension program, click here.
Click here to read KCTV5's previous special report on the Aid and Attendance program.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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