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Veteran Fights For 11 Years To Receive Disability

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OAKLAND (CBS13) – The disability delay is a problem nationwide, but in Northern California it’s particularly difficult. Veterans are waiting on average one year to receive disability benefits.

An inspector general’s report to be released Thursday is expected to detail what’s behind the backlog. CBS13 spoke to one vet who waited more than a decade for his approval.

He still has the envelopes from years of Veteran’s Affairs mail.

“We are working on your claims for unemployability,” one letter reads.

At 70, Vietnam veteran and former navy sailor Richard Carpino says the letter is typical.

His case is extreme, Carpino went 11 years through appeals with the Oakland VA to get his 100 percent disability approved.

New statistics show the backlog for Northern California disability claims is so long, veterans are waiting on average 320 days for a decision. And, there are 35,000 veterans in line.

“These kids that are coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq today are coming back in far worse conditions then what we came from in Vietnam,” said Carpino.

CBS13 obtained an email from the Oakland VA office to Congressman Jerry McNerney acknowledging the backlog, with a list showing plans to reduce it.

Hoever, Carpino doesn’t buy it.

“It’s the VA, they’re going to prolong it, hoping that you will eventually get disgusted, and say, okay, I’m not going to go no more,” said Carpino.

In his seven tours of duty in Vietnam, he thought he’d actually die just once. At 30 a shell just missed his ship.

“Your whole 30 years of your life you relive it. Bam!” said Carpino.

Carpino was a boiler tender on destroyers. He worked with asbestos. Now he has lung disease.

“I just figure that when they put you in a hazardous position like that, and you get injured or come down with it, the military and the Veterans Affairs owes you something for the position that they put you in,” said Carpino.

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