UPDATED: Cuban-American ultra-hero Manuel Perez-Garcia and family in hearbreaking distress

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Here’s the heartbreaking e-mail I received from Perez-Garcia’s grandson today:

Dear Mr. Fontova:

I am the grandson of Manuel Perez-Garcia, my name is Michael Acuna,and I am a college student.
Manuel is now 102 yrs. old and bed ridden, his wife, Onelia, who is 93 cares for him with the help of my aunt Mirta, 55. Manuel is 100% disabled and is in Priority Group #1 at the VA Medical Center/Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

My grandmother and aunt contacted me about a month ago regarding the need for “Home Care Services” which are available from the VA. The Miami VA. simply refused to help and became obstructionist. My grandmother then sent a (certified) letter to Senator Rubio, and we sent a copy of that letter via Fax (see attached letter). A week later(05-25-2011), Senator Rubio’s office staff argued with me that my grandmother cannot speak on Manuel’s behalf because her “Durable Power of Attorney” is not admissible in “Federal Government” affairs. Further, we argued that an investigation into this matter must be conducted because there are possibly hundreds of other “elderly” veterans being mistreated. Mr. Rubio’s office staff indicated that they would only forward our complaint to the VA. I advised them that doing only that would not resolve the continuing mistreatment of elderly veterans.

My grandfather has a personal letter from President Harry Truman, June 9, 1952, in which the President indicates that; your country cannot ask of anyone a greater contribution than you have already made. On the contrary, the nation will always be in your debt.

It appears that Senator Rubio has joined the VA in being an obstructionist against a 102 yrs. old highly decorated WWII veteran and Bay of Pigs combatant. This is disgraceful and insulting to a man who gave so much, spilled his blood, and demonstrated supreme courage in defending his country. We all know that “Freedom isn’t Free.” Manuel paid a very high price so all of us would remain Free!

I sent this story to the Miami Herald (Luisa Yanez, lyanez@miamiherald.com) and not even a response was received. I am hoping, however, that you will expose this serious mistreatment of a great man. My grandfather and grandmother may be contacted at (305) 865-8552.

Sincerely,

Mike Acuna.

VA bureaucracy and red-tape (rather than Senator Rubio’s indifference) I strongly suspect, is to blame here …Whatever. If anyone out there can help–please do. If anyone ever deserved our help, it’s ultra-hero Manuel Perez-Garcia.

Unreal

UPDATE — Alberto 5/26/2011

The office of Senator Marco Rubio has sent us an explanation and response to the situation regarding Manuel Perez-Garcia. You can read it below the fold.

I would like to provide the following reaction from our office for the record:

We deeply sympathize with Mr. Perez-Garcia and understand the frustration his family feels about navigating the federal bureaucracy at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Since learning of this situation, Senator Rubio’s office has gone through all the proper steps to resolve this case and has been in direct contact with the VA.  To be clear, our case workers do not argue with constituents; we patiently explain the process at hand and diligently try to resolve cases on their behalf.

In this specific case, we explained that the paperwork provided by the family did not indicate that the wife was Mr. Perez-Garcia’s VA-appointed guardian.  More specifically, the VA does not recognize the state-issued power of attorney being used by the family.  However, we explained that there are VA forms the veteran and family member can sign to have the VA recognize the family member as the contact for VA matters.

Since the initial contact was made, we received a faxed copy of a Privacy Act Consent Form signed by the veteran’s wife, which was immediately faxed to the VA Medical Center Miami Congressional Liaison yesterday.  This is a form our office has constituents sign to provide assistance with a federal agency.

Our case worker has brought this matter to the federal government’s attention, emphasizing the importance of a case to Senator Rubio.  We expect to have an update later today.

Again, we deeply sympathize with Mr. Perez-Garcia’s and his family and are working to resolve this matter as soon as possible.

Thanks for your consideration,

Alex Burgos
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

4 thoughts on “UPDATED: Cuban-American ultra-hero Manuel Perez-Garcia and family in hearbreaking distress”

  1. This is an unfortunate situation. The VA needs to get on the ball to help, not only this Decorated Hero, but all Veterans who gave their all in defense of our Nation.
    Please keep us informed of the outcome. It is possible to start a campaign of letters from Veterans and family members.
    God bless Mr. Manuel Perez-Garcia for his service and dedication to our Country. God bless his family members for caring for his needs. He and family are in out thoughts and prayers.

  2. Over the years there have been way too many horror stories regarding the VA. It is about time they get their act together so our veterans don’t have to go through this suffering.

    Our veterans have suffered enough in their lifetime.

  3. FFC: not all VA facilities are created equal; some are great others are nightmarish. You can’t paint with a broad brush. For decades, the VA was neglected and poorly funded; things began to s-l-o-w-l-y turn around with the last administration — perhaps the war in Iraq triggered it; but the bottom line is that the red tape issues are not unique to the VA, they are common to all govt. entities. Mr. Perez-Garcia’s family probably didn’t know they had to complete certain forms to comply with VA rules. Glad to see that Sen. Rubio’s office did get on the ball.

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