Inga Keene, veteran's widow
ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- There are about 23 million veterans in the U.S. and they are not the only ones who need help filing for benefits.
Widows of veterans are also eligible for help and one local woman says if it wasn't for a DAV officer who helped her after her husband's passing, she would have faced many struggles.
Inga Keene, 72, looks back at memories of her husband as a young soldier in the U.S. Army.
"Everybody said it's not going to work, teenagers, but it worked," said Keene.
Keene says she met her husband when she was 16 and he was 18. He was stationed in Berlin, Germany, where she's from. She says from the moment they met it was love at first sight. The couple was married for 50 years and went through two deployments to Vietnam.
"They shot him of course. He said he'd seen the bullets hitting the trees and he fell into a hole and as he balanced himself a big one [bullet] went right in the side and came out the front. He had a big hole in the front," said Keene.
Keene says her husband was badly wounded and she was raising three boys with very little help.
"We didn't have nothing like they do today. I mean I'm happy for the military families, the way they help those young people, but no, I didn't get nothing. I mean I took care of three boys," said Keene.
In 2010, her husband passed away of lung cancer. The Department of Veterans Affairs sent Keene a letter stating her husband's death was connected to his service and she would be eligible for benefits, but she didn't know where to start.
That's when she found Robert Hull, a local Disabled American Veterans Service officer who, like Keene's husband, also received a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam. Hull has been helping widows of veterans claim benefits and get help during tough times.
"We're trying to pass the word out. We advertise in the paper we're open Monday through Thursday and let people know," said Hull.
To learn more information, click here to find a Veterans of Foreign Wars post near you. The Disabled Americans Veterans (DAV) centers can provide officers trained in filing claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Click here to learn more about the DAV.
First Coast News