Every day, thousands upon thousands of letters and emails are sent to the White House from people who occupy all walks of life. Few of these attempts to correspond are read by the president, much less responded to, but Del Mar College student and Vietnam veteran Tony Hartwell-Garza says he was one of the lucky few who was noticed by the Office of Presidential Correspondence.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Hartwell-Garza detailed his struggle that included a decades-long lack of veterans benefits and a year without water or other city services, ultimately asking for some executive assistance from our commander in chief.
Hartwell-Garza, who said he fell victim to these circumstances after a fire in St. Louis, Missouri, destroyed thousands of military documents in the 1980s, said he received a response from White House staff.
“When the words ‘homeless’ and ‘back pay’ hit the president, he was very disturbed,” Hartwell-Garza said, going on to describe how he hasn’t received benefits despite corresponding with organizations for years.
“Twenty thousand other vets have this kind of issue,” he said. “North Korean and Vietnam vets have been left behind.”
The response, according to Hartwell-Garza, consisted of the presidential office offering to pass on word of his situation to the Salvation Army and other agencies.
Hartwell-Garza plans to write another letter to Obama thanking him for his help, but said he still hasn’t received his full benefits.