Veteran’s wife dies. VA declares him dead, takes away his benefits

A local man, who served our nation in uniform and is coping with the death of his wife, is now dealing with another emotional trauma.

“VA – they’ve been taking care of me for what, 75 years, and they’ve been phenomenal,” said Mario Salvi, referring to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. “They’ve been great.”

But the VA now considers Salvi dead.

“It’s tough,” said Salvi through tears.

When Salvi’s wife, Geraldine, died in January, he said he followed the law and notified the VA of her passing. He told the government agency to take out the stipend relating to his wife. A few months later, a letter arrived addressed to Geraldine. It offered her condolences for her husband’s death.

“I jumped immediately on the telephone,” Salvi said. “That was an error that I was much alive.”

Since the VA listed him as deceased, the government agency reached into his bank account and confiscated six months worth of benefits paid to him after his supposed date of death.

Salvi, 93 years old, said it had been a nightmare. He depended on the nearly $1,500 a month he used to collect. Now that the VA took back his benefits, he said his bank account is overdrawn.

Salvi and his family are working on getting the nation he served proudly in uniform to admit its mistake. Salvi wants his name taken off the list of the deceased and have the money he deserves returned to him.

“At this point,” Salvi said, “nothing has been taking care of.”


Since the story aired, Sen. Rick Scott has expressed a willingness to help Salvi. In a statement, he said:

As a veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services committee, taking care of military members, veterans and their families is Senator Scott’s top priority. Senator Scott will always fight to support our nation’s veterans and make sure they have every resource they need to succeed. Our office is reaching out to Mr. Salvi to help in any way that we can.

Writer:Michael Mora
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