BOSTON (CBS) – Joseph Terenzio’s daughter Brenda D’Errico couldn’t be prouder. Her dad, a former Army staff sergeant had a shadow box filled with medals.
Among them, three Purple Hearts, two bronze stars and a silver star – his most precious was awarded for saving more than 27 lives. Brenda says was a true hero.
In March, Terenzio was recuperating from surgery at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea. One hundred percent disabled, Terenzio was the first to die of COVID-19.
Terenzio was married for more than seven decades to Delma, who recently applied for his disability pension and the state annuity – but was denied both.
“I was stunned. What do we, do all the widows do?,” Delma told WBZ-TV. “If this happened to all of us. Why would COVID-19 deny us the pension?”
“Due to the fact that my father’s death could have been prevented, I believe it is on the VA to approve his claim,” added D’Errico. “The fact that my father went to a place to heal and never came out is truly disappointing.”
In a letter, the state Department of Veteran Services said Terenzio’s cause of death was not related to his service disability, even though it made him more vulnerable to the deadly virus.
Deb Olson, with Disabled American Veterans of Massachusetts said the organization is working to change they law to allow families of veterans who died of COVID-19 to be given the benefits their loved ones earned.
“The legislation has to be changed right now is the proper time address it. We should be able to get support to get it passed,” Olsen said.
As for Delma, she said she’s concerned about other families as well and said after all the family sacrificed, this should never have happened.
“They should give me my money and take care of us,” she said.
Until the law is changed to allow for coronavirus deaths, veterans advocates say families can appeal and get a letter from their loved one’s primary care doctor that shows their disability contributed to their cause of death.