Erie News Now Investigates Gets Action for Daughter's Devotion to Dying Father
Erie News Now has the emotional story of a daughter's devotion to her dying father.
Korean War veteran Richard Slaven faced major health problems after his tour of duty. His daughter Karen Ralph was seeking compensation and continues to do so to this day.
It's been a long and frustrating fight. As we investigate, we are remembering veteran Rich Slaven.
Richard E. Slaven enlisted in the United States Army in November of 1951. He served in the 73rd Tank Battalion as a radio operator and he died last December at the age of 92, surrounded by his loving family.
During his final gut-wrenching moments, he was unable to speak but listened to his favorite song, "Oh Danny Boy."
"He was a very proud Korean War Veteran, he always say he wanted to be the oldest living Korean Vet," said Karen. "He was very proud to serve his country."
Karen Slaven has put up a passionate fight, hoping to get additional benefits for her father. She believes her dad should have been classified with a disability of 100 percent as a result of his service in the Korean War. With that classification, her mother would receive part of those benefits.
"There's so many veterans out there that don't have someone advocating for them," said Karen. "But once I retired, I was like a dog with a bone."
Alvin Loveless, the director of the McKean County Veterans Affairs, has copies of Richard Slaven's applications, deferred and denied letters from the VA. He also has a letter saying all of Mr. Slaven's records were lost in a fire.
"The fire in St. Louis in '73 destroyed all U.S. Army records from H to Z," said Loveless.
Richard was married to his wife Sivy for 69 years and they had a son and two daughters. He was a 63-year member of the American Legion Post 742 in Fairview and then moved his family to Bradford, Pa., in 1997.
"When the enemy would jam the signal, piercing into his ear, and at that time they didn't give any ear protection to the servicemen," said Karen. "And as a result of that my dad lost his hearing. When he came home from the war he suffered terribly from allergies, bronchitis, stuff like that. It was sad to see him suffer like that."
In part two of our investigative reports Thursday night at 11, Mike Ruzzi will tell you about the dependency indemnity compensation act and the role a D.I.C. plays in the search for benefits to eligible survivors and dependents of veterans who had service-connected disabilities or diseases.