Chatham Woman Finally Lays Her Army Vet Father to Rest After V.A. Woes

Pittsylvania Co., VA - It's been 14 long months since Clavel Gagnon's father passed away, but she says she's been unable to properly grieve.

"To me his death was just like yesterday, " Gagnon said.Her father was an army veteran who served in Vietnam. Gagnon says the effects of Agent Orange left him with a list of ailments - including brain cancer.

"He was just always sick. Couldn't get out, couldn't do."Gagnon says the family had to fight for everything they got from Veteran's Affairs, including medical care and compensation for her mother who served as caregiver.When her father passed away, Gagnon requested a military marker for his grave. It finally came - a year later - but she immediately noticed her father's full name - John Alexander Phillips Gagnon - was not there.

"I was told there was only 21 characters allotted a plaque, " Gagnon said.That was the last straw.

Gagnon put in a call to Congressman Robert Hurt's office. Within no time, a new plaque arrived with her father's full name and her other struggle for benefits that were owed to her family came to an end."We really encourage folks to reach out to us because that is our job. That's what we're elected to do, " Hurt saidGagnon is thankful for all Hurt was able to do for her family, but she doesn't want to ever see another family go through what she did.

"Everything with the VA is a long drawn out process and it shouldn't be that way. It's wrong and it needs to be fixed, " Gagnon said.