He refused to give up ...
Shots rang out in Italy ...
Before Pfc. Louis Alfieri knew what hit him, he was struck by two bullets. One ricocheted in his stomach, mangling his guts. The other hit his left arm, separating it at the elbow.
"I've had so many surgeries on my stomach that it looks like a roadmap," said Alfieri. "I've had most of my large intestines removed, and what I still have has been rerouted. It's caused major problems with my day-to-day functioning."
Alfieri was deemed completely disabled and granted Unemployability in 1975. Life was still difficult, but he was getting by.
Then the unthinkable happened: the VA did a massive review of Unemployability cases in 1981 and decreased Alfieri's service connection rating to 60%! He appealed the reduction but the appeal was denied.
Alfieri, his wife and three children had already been living frugally. With the huge decrease in income, the future looked grim.
"People would always ask me what rating I wanted," said Alfieri. "I only wanted what I was entitled to ... nothing more."
For the next 30 years, Alfieri fought the VA's decision. Then he met VFW Appeals Consultant George Sheets.
"One of my service officers referred me to George," said Alfieri. "He said George is a fighter, and that he doesn't stop until he wins."
And that proved to be true. Sheets fought tooth-and-nail until Alfieri's Unemployability rating was reinstated. The VA determined that the original reduction was erroneous.
"If it weren't for George, I would still be struggling. I just wish I could celebrate this victory with my wife, but she died 17 years ago. Life would have been so much easier for us," said Alfieri.
Since receiving his benefits, 86-year-old Alfieri bought a new car and helped out his children.
"My daughter suffered whiplash and nerve damage in a bad car accident," said Alfieri. "It felt so good to be able to help her."
Since his victory, Alfieri's grandson, who followed in his footsteps and joined the military, was blown off a rooftop in Afghanistan and walked away from an IED explosion in Iraq.
"I told Danny to call VFW," said Alfieri. "I knew they would take good care of him."
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans