Updated: 11/11/2013 8:01 PM
Created: 11/11/2013 11:27 AM KSTP.com
By: Scott Theisen
A veterans' service officer in St. Louis County is getting thanks from one Vietnam War veteran after discovering the man was wrongly denied more than $300,000 in medical benefits.
As part of his job, Brian Rulifson often helps veterans with the complicated paperwork involved in getting their benefits. The Duluth News Tribune reported Monday that Rulifson immediately noticed something amiss in the paperwork of one vet from northern St. Louis County who'd consulted him.
The man, who asked not to be identified, is suffering from cancer presumed to be linked to his Vietnam service. He was denied certain benefits in 2004 that Rulifson quickly came to believe were due.
Rulifson brought his concerns to Sherry Rodriguez, director of the northern Minnesota county's Veterans Service office. She agreed, and took it up with the federal Veterans Administration. That agency's review found the 2004 denial of benefits was a "clear and unmistakable error."
In October, the man got a check from the VA for $306,962.
"The VA had to pay the man all the way back to 2004, which is why the back pay is so large," Rodriguez said.
Rulifson said he has occasionally uncovered mistakes by the VA, but never that large. Rulifson said he "could tell something was wrong, but I didn't think this mistake would have such a good, drastic outcome," he said.
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