WWII Marine fights for veteran benefits - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

WWII Marine fights for veteran benefits

World War II veteran Samuel W. Sylvester III (Photo source: WLOX) World War II veteran Samuel W. Sylvester III (Photo source: WLOX)

Montford Point Marine Samuel Sylvester proudly holds a medal he says he recently received for being one of the first African Americans to enter the United States Marine Corps. From 1944 to 1946, he served in World War II.

"I think the worse thing was going through all those dead people, and we didn't have a mask to put on, and we just went in there," said Sylvester.

Sylvester, 89, said the tough time overseas has taken a toll on his body. He claims he now has post-traumatic stress disorder, wears two hearing aids and can barely stand without his knees cracking.

The Moss Point veteran receives health benefits but is begging the VA for state veteran's financial benefits to pay his bills and survive.

"I don't have no income, and the little income I have is from Social Security," said Sylvester.

His daughters said they've been helping their dad fight since the 1970s.

"Just like he went to war for our country, I am going to war for him," Sylvester's daughter, Patricia Toles, said.

The family has not had much luck. A 2014 letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed that Sylvester had in fact been denied.

"They are saying that his sickness didn't occur during the military. At 17, I am feeling like he didn't know he had lost his hearing. He saw the bomb. He saw the mushroom that went up in the air. Just sit down, and listen to his story," said Toles

The frustrated family then called on friend and attorney Gayle Tart, who has also struggled to get answers.

"It is processing, it's pending, we are working on it, but when you get to be 89 years old, you don't have a whole lot of time," Tart said.

Neither Sylvester nor his family plan on giving up this fight until this World War II veteran gets the help they say he deserves for helping protect our country.

"I see it all the time that other people getting help. What about my daddy? Yes, we are black and we represent our black people, and I am proud to be an American, but what can America do for us now? While he can get his flowers while he is here and enjoy his grand kids," said Doris Sylvester.

Jackson Office Management Analyst Public Affairs Officer Paul Norris confirmed Sylvester has filed several claims with the VA in the past, and he currently has a claim pending requesting service for several disabilities. He said the previous claims were denied because they didn't satisfy one or more of the required elements.

Norris said because it is very important to the VA that every veteran receives the benefits to which they are entitled, an experienced VA technical expert will now review all of Sylvester's records.

If you would like to help Sylvester, call Toles at 228-697-3950.

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