WWII Vets Family Seeks Help From V.A.

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

East Knox County (WVLT) -- Tonight, a family is calling for help from the same country their loved one so proudly and gallantly served.

The late Ralph Kennedy's heirs are appealing to the veterans administration to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills he left behind.

If the V.A. doesn't, than his family thinks what the World War Two veteran fought and worked for will have been all for naught.

The story takes place in the Sunny View neighborhood of East Knox County.

"This is Ralph Hammond Kennedy," said Ron Temple, Mr. Kennedy's grandson.

He was a father, grandfather and Purple Heart recipient.

"The man was fully functional in World War II, the Battle of the Bulge, Normandy, both, a marksman," Temple said. "He fought for his country."

The man who worked his post-war days chopping wood for a living died in the spring of 2006 from injuries suffered in a car accident.

His final weeks were spent at the UT Medical Center where his bills tallied to more than a $250,000.

The family attorney says Ralph's estate is insolvent, meaning a collection agency is now eying his nearly eight acres of land and his home that's been in the family for more than a century.

"It's over 180 years old," Temple said.

The grandson and his mother are calling on the V.A. to step in and pay the tab for the decorated veteran.

"The next step is to try to get the V.A. to pay this hospital bill so that I can take this place, leave it as it stands, and let it be a historical marker," Temple said.

Kennedy's daughter, Diann Temple, says he was enrolled into the V.A.'s health care program in December 2005.

But his accident happened about a week before he was scheduled for his V.A. appointment and he was not well enough to leave the hospital to keep the appointment.

She says that's why the V.A. denied their initial claim.

With the help of Congressman Jimmy Duncan, she's filed an appeal with hopes of carrying out her father's wishes.

"It's stated in the will to take care of the land and that's what I'd like to do," Ron Temple said.

One V.A. official we spoke with told us that in his experience, he's never known the V.A. to pay in a situation like the Kennedy's.

Diann says that she hopes her appeal wins her a hearing at a local V.A. office.


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