Chestnut Ridge family fights with VA to get help for hero in need
Wednesday marked the birthday of the Marine Corps. Instead of celebrating, one Chestnut Ridge family is fighting with the VA hospital to get help for a hero who needs it.
Semper Fi, Latin for always faithful, is the Marine Corps motto Robert Zeller Sr. lives and breathes.
Decades after fighting in the Korean War, the 92-year-old now battles Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
The veteran is entitled to a home health aide from the VA three days a week, but Zeller's son says they haven't seen one in nearly three weeks.
"The VA says the biggest excuse when you call - 'Sorry, the pandemic, we don't have enough help.' It's just every time everywhere there's an excuse," says Tom Zeller.
The son claims it has been an ongoing problem with the VA for over two years and that every no-show falls on him. He is also caring for his ailing mother.
"Tomorrow's Veterans Day, federal offices are closed. As of right now, at this time, we don't even know if we will have an aide over the weekend, they had no contact with me. The VA has had no contact with me in over a week," he says.
The VA told the county the issue is due to a staffing shortage but didn't provide a solution.
The VA tells News 12 it makes every effort to provide veterans the care earned through their sacrifices but would not comment on Zeller's case because of privacy. It also would not let News 12 know if he can expect an aide Friday.
The VA Hudson Valley Health Care System sent the following response: "We are not permitted to speak about a specifically identified veteran as this information is protected by Federal confidentiality statutes and concerns a privacy interest. However, when any Veteran qualifies for and needs a home health aide, VA Hudson Valley's Community Care office makes every effort to identify an agency in the community that can provide care that fits the Veteran's needs and possesses the specific attributes the Veteran's family is requiring. We strive to ensure every Veteran receives the care they are entitled to and earned through their sacrifices. Nothing makes us more proud than serving our nation's heroes."