KINGS PARK - The widow of a Korean War veteran is receiving some long overdue benefits nearly 50 years after his death.
Bill Rondi, a United States Marine, was seriously injured in combat and left Korea with a chest full of metal lodged close to his heart. He died 13 years later from heart failure at the age of 34.
The U.S. Veterans Administration denied death benefits for Rondi’s widow Irene, who was a young mother of two. The agency claimed the war injury did not cause Rondi’s death.
“I tried many times with the VA, but they always denied me,” says Irene Barkin.
With the help of Rep. Steve Israel, Barkin has finally convinced the VA to overturn Rondi’s cause of death.
“Last week, I had the privilege of telling Irene that we secured for her a retroactive payment of $67,000 going back to August 2010,” Israel said.
Barkin has been emotional since hearing the news.
“The memories are just enveloping me,” she says. “His death, the way it happened, the years I had to struggle to bring up two young children … I spent most of the week just crying.”
News 12 Long Island asked the Veterans Administration why Barkin is only getting compensation from 2010, but has not heard back.