Vietnam vet needs help |

Vietnam vet needs help

Many who have lived in Glenwood Springs for some time remember Richard “Jo Jo” Smith, a former postal worker who retired in 2003, after 25 years. Smith, 56, has had severe health problems, namely lung and bone cancer. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971 and was exposed to Agent Orange, a carcinogen.”They now owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills that their insurance is refusing to pay,” said Jill Ziemann, of Catholic Charities in Glenwood.The Smiths also pay about $600 for prescription medicine each month.”They do not qualify for some of the prescription programs because they have a pension and some disability. However, they receive barely enough to cover their mortgage and food,” Ziemann said.Richard and his wife, Dorothy, have had turns of bad luck recently, Ziemann said. In March, their furnace cracked and leaked carbon monoxide into the house. Richard and Dorothy were forced to leave the house until everything in it could be cleaned to remove the toxic gas. Best Plumbing installed a new boiler at cost and reduced labor charge, but the couple still owe $700.Last week, on a trip to see a doctor and visit their daughter, Trea, in Kansas City, Kan., Dorothy’s health took a rapid decline, and she had double bypass surgery. The two are now living with Trea until Dorothy is well enough to return home.Without the medical bills and the money owed on the boiler, “They’d be OK,” Trea said.She also pointed out that the Smiths’ old car has a broken window that needs to be fixed, to the tune of $300 or $400. Their house is also in need of repair, namely broken windows and a leaky roof, as well as electrical and plumbing problems.

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