Letter: US turning its back on heroes

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Editor of the Reformer,

George Hand, at 19 years old, joined the Army in 1940. After boot camp, he trained with the Tenth Mountain Division at Fort Drum. Young and ready to face the Nazis, he found himself in Africa, at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, where he received his first Bronze Star with a Cluster for Valor.

He landed first wave in the Invasion of Sicily, and earned his Second Bronze Star with a Cluster for Valor. Later in the fight for Sicily, he was shot in the mountains, earning his first Purple Heart.

George recovered from his wounds in England, trained for the D-Day Invasion and landed on Omaha Beach, with the 1st Division. Now a First Sergeant, he led his men through the hedge rows, and received his third Bronze Star with a Cluster for Valor. He was wounded again in Belgium, two days before the Battle of the Bulge, earning his second Purple Heart. The war was over for him and he finished his enlistment, recovering from his wounds. All that by the time he was 24 years old.

He took a job with the US Post Office and for many years had a walking route. Walking across Africa, Sicily, France, Belgium and Staten Island many times, paid off, he's now 98. Sadly, George got sick a month ago, has been in rehab ever since and can no longer walk.

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Never having children, his wife passing away, he lives with us now. Faced with the realization we can no longer take care on him by ourselves, I contacted the VA about home healthcare benefits; great news he's entitled to those benefits, bad news they cannot get anyone to come to Wardsboro. I can't find anywhere in the benefit description that says you need to live in pre-determined locations.

With that news, I again contacted the VA for assistance with a nursing home. In short, I was told, he's not entitled, he hadn't given enough. Really? I just can't ignore the irony and have to share. In the time when our country and world was at its most vulnerable, these young heroes stood tall, willing to give it all! When they live long enough to become vulnerable themselves, our elected representatives turn their backs on them.

I'm so disappointed with my country right now!

Bill Hoos

West Wardsboro, Aug. 8


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