PORTLAND (WWJ) – An elderly Portland, Michigan man is about to get a very big check from the U.S. government. The Department of Veterans Affairs last week said it would give World War II veteran Leroy MacKlem disability compensation retroactive to 1950, which comes to about $400,000.
MacKlem, 88, took part in the 1943 invasion of Sicily when he was in the Army, but was discharged later that year because of a hip injury he suffered before joining the service.
The VA initially sent him disability checks, but stopped them in 1950 because it said MacKlem was injured in a car accident before he enlisted, and his disability pre-dated his time in the military. MacKlem said he had no pain during his initial Army physicals, but later developed problems in basic training that worsened in North Africa.
MacKlem appealed in 2006 and now, after years of legal wrangling, he may soon be getting his money.
“I was surprised, because I really thought never … I was going to wait until I died before they ever settled it,” MacKlem said in a CBS News interview.
When his lawyer called to tell him, MacKlem said he was happy, but he’s worried they may appeal it again.
“Once before I was supposed to get it, and I was all hyped up and then nothing,” said MacKlem. “Each time I took it to some court, you know, they’d turn it down and and I’d try it again.”
MacKlem has now asked the government to hurry up its payment because of his age.