St. Louis County, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Red tape threatened the life of a Northland Vietnam veteran, but his life may hopefully be easier. It is all thanks to the help of a red tape cutting veterans’ advocate.
Americans who answered the nation's call during the Vietnam War had to face a determined enemy overseas, and a less than stellar welcome home stateside.
In between, many tangled with the poisonous defoliant, Agent Orange. Recently, a Vietnam vet suffering from an Agent Orange derived cancer visited St. Louis County Veterans Service Officer, Brian Rulifson.
He told Rulifson about his difficulties filing a claim with the Veterans Administration.
"He said that he had a few years ago and it got denied," Rulifson, said.
Rulifson is a retired Navy veteran himself. He contacted the Vietnam Veterans of America in the Twin Cities.
"Together, we presented the VA with what they call a clear and unmistakable error," Rulifson said.
Because of that effort, the Vietnam vet, who prefers to remain anonymous, is now considered 100% disabled and will receive monthly aid plus reimbursement going back to the original claim made in 2004.
For his work, Rulifson was honored by the St. Louis County Board on Tuesday at their board meeting in Fredenburg Township.
"What he accomplished was he cut through the bureaucratic process and truly helped one of our nation's heroes,” a member of the St. Louis County Board, Keith Nelson, said.
For Rulifson, it was just another day at work.
"We do this for all vets that come to us. I would have done the same thing for anybody," Rulifson said.
He encourages anybody and everybody who has served and needs help to seek it.
"Other veterans that either haven't been in the office before or have had claims denied before, if there are any questions, come see your veterans service officer," Rulifson said.
Rulifson is a veterans' services officer based in Virginia, Minn.