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HERO'S WIDOW GRATEFUL FOR VFW'S DEDICATION

In his memory, she just couldn't give up ...

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Barbara Brown* met her husband after World War II, but the war was never far from the life they built together.

“He was always in a lot of pain,” she said of her late husband, Army Staff Sgt. Bob Brown. “In 1944, his Jeep was bombed in France. His whole femur was shot out, and he had severe wounds in his arms and wrists.”

But this Bronze Star recipient wasn’t one to give up. He spent six years in the hospital recovering from his war injuries. Finally, Bob was fitted with a cushion pin from hip to knee. It improved his mobility, but the pain never relented.

“He just refused to have his leg amputated,” Barbara said. “He was like that, such a courageous and persistent person.

“On our first date, he wore a four-inch shoe. He had difficulty walking, but I didn’t let that get in the way. I fell in love with him at first sight, and we were engaged on Easter in 1953.”

Over the years, Bob’s health worsened. He developed severe arthritis in his “good” leg.

In 1995, after previous denials, Bob was finally deemed 100% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“When the disability came through, Bob believed that I would receive at least some of his benefits when he died,” Barbara described. “That’s all he cared about, that I would be okay.”

But in 2003, after Bob died of pancreatic cancer, Barbara found out that wasn’t the case.

“According to the VA, veterans must be 100% disabled for 10 years for their dependents to receive this benefit,” explained George Sheets, VFW Appeals Consultant. “At the time of his death, Bob was 100% disabled for eight years.”

Sheets, an expert on VA benefits, felt like something didn’t add up.

“I reviewed the files and found what I believed to be a clear and unmistakable error regarding an earlier VA claim,” said Sheets. “If that had been correctly rated, Bob would have met the 10-year criteria.”

Sheets filed an appeal on those grounds, and in 2010, Barbara Brown was awarded Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) just as her husband envisioned.

“I just knew how much the war had affected his whole life. In his memory, I just couldn’t give up,” she said.

The VA benefits meant emotional and financial relief for the widow. She received a retroactive payment and now gets a monthly award to help with living expenses.

She credits the VFW, and especially George Sheets, for the victory.

“We had been everywhere looking for help, even an attorney. And in the end it was Mr. Sheets who helped us through … what a dedicated man,” said Barbara. “One of the first things I did with my two daughters was take a short trip to Washington, D.C., to thank him in person. That was an honor.”

*Name changed to protect privacy.

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