After a Department of Veterans Affairs backlog left a Melville veteran's benefits claim unsettled for a year, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand successfully expedited the soldier's application, helping to secure nearly $15,000 in retroactive benefits and a monthly payment of $1,380 for 65 year-old Bob Carnesi. Mr Carnesi, who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to his combat in Vietnam, is set to receive the benefits starting next month.
"We must fulfill our duty to our veterans and their families who have made incredible sacrifices protecting our freedom by providing them with the support and care they need, said Senator Gillibrand. "I am relieved that Mr. Carnesi finally received his disability benefits that he was owed and will continue the push to improve treatment for our men and women in uniform."
"Every person who has served our country should never feel like they are looking for a handout when they apply for eligible benefits," said Bob Carnesi. "They should know that they are getting benefits that they have earned. I thank Senator Gillibrand for all of her help and I am so happy that this long and difficult nightmare has ended."
Between November 1965 and December 1966, Mr. Carnesi served in Vietnam with the First Calvary Division and fought in the Battle of La Drang Valley, the first major battle of the Vietnam War. Mr. Carnesi was diagnosed with combat-related PTSD almost a decade ago. As a result of his PTSD symptoms, Mr. Carnesi says that he struggled to maintain and hold down jobs over the years.
Last May, Mr. Carnesi applied for disability benefits, completing necessary paperwork and examinations. After administrative errors and failed attempts to reach the VA for an update on the status of his pending claim, Mr. Carnesi contacted Senator Gillibrand's office for help in April. Senator Gillibrand expedited Mr. Carnesi's case and settled his claim this month.
The veteran currently volunteers with Blue Star Families, a non-profit to support and connect military families. Mr. Carnesi lives with his wife of 41 years, Kathryn Carnesi.