WWII pilot fighting to receive veteran benefits

Published: Feb. 21, 2019 at 8:41 AM CST
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A WWII veteran is on a mission to get all the benefits he deserves.

Medical bills are mounting for Gail Farrell, and he's worried about coverage.

"We would watch these B-17s spiraling into the ground. I could sit back there and watch them go," Farrell recalled.

He survived 21 missions flying over Nazi Germany without a scratch.

"It was just plain, damn luck. Well, it didn't turn out to be so lucky in my old age," Ferrell said.

He has a deteriorating leg, but because his retirement money puts him in a higher income bracket outlined by Veteran's Affairs, he's worried about qualifying for complete benefits.

Ferrell can't afford to pay on any medical bills.

He makes about $51,000 in retirement payments but claims the V.A. doesn't take into account his expenses like assisted living.

Berry Wilkinson with Boots and Suits United guides veterans through government paperwork, and he believes Ferrell qualifies for disability benefits because of a service-connected injury.

"If you don't have a service-connected disability recorded, then they look at your income. Are you capable of paying for your own medical care?" Wilkinson explained.

The mission is now to prove that high altitude bombing in WWII caused circulation problems in Ferrell's leg.

"He's got some things that could possibly be service connected, and he needs to file that with the V.A. with his medical records to let him look at that," Wilkinson said.

Ferrell just wants to be able to use the help offered to veterans.

"I don't want anything any other veteran wouldn't ask for in my situation," he said.

The 95-year-old is hopeful his application for service-connected injury benefits won't be shot down 74 years after flying his last mission.

Veterans Affairs specialists in Washington and Omaha have been working on the case.

Appointments have been set up for him on Thursday at the V.A. Health Center in Omaha.