Rural Outreach in Alaska helps underserved veteran get hearing aids.


“I WONDER IF YOU CAN HELP ME?!” the man shouted from across the table.

His name was Frank Ockert, and he served during WWII as a bombardier in a B-26 Marauder.

VFW Alaska State Service Officer Scott Griffith was on rural outreach in Sitka—something he did regularly to help the underserved file VA claims.

Rising to shake hands, Griffith asked if he needed hearing aids. Ockert yelled back: he couldn’t afford them.

Without hearing protection, Ockert endured the piercing sounds of German flak guns and .50 calibers firing at enemy aircraft, not to mention the 2,100 hp Pratt & Whitney radial engines on each wing. His ears never stopped ringing. Over the years, his hearing only worsened.

Ockert and his wife lived in subsidized housing. It’s all they could afford on Social Security alone. 

“Frank is a great guy,” said Griffith. “He’s a former State Chaplain for the American Legion and a volunteer chaplain at a local hospital, a real pillar in the community. I was honored to help him.”

Griffith filed a claim for Ockert, who received a disability rating of 100%.

“He was flabbergasted,” said Griffith. “He got his benefits as well as $9,000 in back pay. It really changed his life.”

Since the victory, Ockert and his wife are planning to move into better housing and are now eligible for CHAMPVA, a healthcare benefits program that will help cover healthcare for Ockert’s wife and children.

When Ockert caught word that Griffith was coming back to town, he brought his family to visit. This time, he spoke with a normal voice.

Ockert’s wife gave Griffith a big hug and his great granddaughter tugged on Griffith’s sleeve …

“Thank you for Pop Pop’s hearing aids,” she said sweetly. “He doesn’t yell at me anymore.”

Please Contact VFW if you or someone you know needs help filing a VA claim. Click here for a complete list of service officers. Assistance from VFW advocates is made possible through donations from loyal VFW supporters. You do not have to be a member of VFW to take advantage of this service.



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