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BANDING TOGETHER TO HELP A DYING VETERAN

Time was of the essence for Vietnam veteran Gary Parsons.

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Paul Pirlot (left), State Director, VFW Detroit Service Office,
helps many veterans get the benefits they've earned.

When Vietnam veteran Gary Parsons collapsed unexpectedly in his kitchen, no one suspected the tragic diagnosis that followed. After being rushed to the hospital, doctors determined he was suffering from inoperable prostate cancer that had spread to his hips and lower spine. Parson’s had become partially paralyzed, and his condition was terminal.

Parsons’ son sought the advice of Paul Pirlot, State Director, VFW Detroit Service Office.

“They had no idea that prostate cancer is a presumptive illness connected to exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange,” said Pirlot. “I took a look at his file and let Parsons’ son know his dad may be entitled to service connected compensation and VA hospice care.”

But Pirlot knew time was of the essence on this case, and Parsons didn’t have a minute to lose. Resolving claims can take weeks, months or even longer. Pirlot took matters into his own hands.

“Everyone involved knew this was a special situation and we had to work together—and work fast,” explained Pirlot. “This particular case shows what can happen when all parties cooperate to get the job done.”

Pirlot’s first stop was a visit with the medical center’s patient advocate who explained what it would take to get Parsons admitted into hospice care. Then he personally coordinated Parsons' transfer to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) and completed all the claim paperwork required by the VA Regional Office.

After he had Parsons’ signature, Pirlot hand carried the claim to the VA section responsible for the next stage in the claims process.

Within three days Parsons received a rating decision granting service connection and special monthly compensation. He was also admitted into VAMC hospice care.

His son was so relieved and thanked Pirlot profusely.

“It’s always satisfying when we can help turn a gloomy situation into one with a little more hope for veterans and their families. Parsons died at peace knowing his service was recognized and honored,” Pirlot concluded.

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