NEW YORK – At 85-years-old, Malcolm LaPrade has done it all.
Earning a sizable income in his younger years as a self-employed stockbroker on Wall Street, he earned his money and lived his life to the fullest.
He traveled the world, collected art and unique knick-knacks, which now adorn every corner of his quaint Chelsea apartment on West 16th Street.
As of recent, LaPrade doesn’t do much traveling after a debilitating knee injury, which has left him relegated to a bed.
Having never set up a savings plan for his golden years, he was using his own money to cover round-the-clock home care and he was going broke.
“When I suddenly realized I was going to be broke I said to one of the nurses I’m going to try to see if the government could do something for me,” he said. “The nurse said ‘oh no they’re not going to do anything,’ well I’m glad I didn’t take her advice. “
Barely staying afloat on a $620 monthly social security check, late last year LaPrade recruited help from his friend and neighbor Paul Groncki who knew he should be getting more since he was a war veteran.
“He was afraid of going out on the street and I was afraid of him going into a home,” Groncki said.
Groncki did some digging and made some calls to local elected officials, which eventually led him to David Falcon, an attorney with the Veteran’s Project at the New York Legal Assistance Group.
According to Falcon, LaPrade’s story – first reported by Chelsea Now – is all too common where war veterans aren’t well-versed with the benefits they’re entitled to.
“We were able to review very quickly that he was eligible for what’s called the Veterans Non-service Connected Pension,” Falcon explained.
It’s a little known act of Congress that covers veterans who served at least one day during a period of combat – but didn’t necessarily see combat.
It’s something that never occurred to LaPrade, who served as an intelligence officer during the Korean conflict in 1951.
“They had me editing all the various reports about what the Russians were supposedly doing,” LaPrade recalled. “It was a big scam – the Russians weren’t really doing anything.”
“You think about the whole supply chain that we have in the military, every link in that chain is essential to the efforts that we put forward as a service member,” Falcon said. “I think we need to make sure, everyone gets the credit they deserve for being a part of that chain.”
The newly discovered benefits are now making LaPrade’s future all the more golden, providing him enough to pay his rent, medical and utility bills.
“It was so good to see the system work,” Groncki said. “And see that its out there to help people like Malcolm and other veterans out there.”
“You see veterans on the street now and it just breaks my heart and they gotta know there are people out there that’ll help them.”
The New York Legal Assistance Group is looking to help veterans with questions about what their receiving and not receiving.
For more information, call them at 212-946-0343 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.