Fighting for the family

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DAV helps widow secure benefits after husband’s sudden death

New York native Frank Frost was just a teenager when terrorists attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001. Like many other Americans, he was inspired to join the military by the tragic events of that day. Coming from a military family, Frost joined the Army in March 2007. He served two tours in Iraq as a wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 10th Mountain Division before his honorable discharge in 2012.

Though he survived war, Frost was just 32 when his life came to a sudden end in 2019 as a result of an accident stemming from his service-connected PTSD. 

“There are moments that become time-stamped and they haunt you—receiving the military flag; the first time you mark ‘widow;’ the first time his favorite movie comes on; and your first anniversary without him,” his wife Monica said. “No one prepares you for your husband’s funeral, but they really do not prepare you for what comes next.”

Faced with a funeral bill, Monica went to the VA’s benefits office where she was told her husband had been helped by DAV. The benefits DAV had helped him secure extended to her as well.

Monica was introduced to DAV National Service Officer Don Inns, who immediately began helping her focus on next steps. Inns advised her to first focus on the funeral, and then to obtain the relevant records and return when she was ready.

“My late mother become a young widow when I was only ten,” said Inns. “I acutely remember the sense of helplessness on her part. Helping surviving spouses obtain VA benefits is personal and brings peace of mind.”

“Don sat me down and was patient with me. I cried a lot,” Monica recalled. “He spoke to me in truth. He was very honest of what needed to happen, the timeframe we were looking at, and gave me several ways to reach out to him. He even stayed late on several occasions to call and check on me. Don is, and was, my hero.”

DAV’s representation didn’t end with the claim for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Inns helped Monica obtain Ancillary benefits of Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA) and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA CH 35).

“DAV provides a circle of representation,” said Inns. “To care for the caregivers of our veterans completes the circle. The fast grant of DIC made a big difference in Mrs. Frost’s future and quality of life.”

“The service DAV provided to Mrs. Frost is a fitting tribute in memory of her late husband and recognition of her critical role as a caregiver,” he added.

Monica said the support she received from Inns and DAV allowed her to simply keep going.

“DAV gave me stability for the first time,” she said. “They helped me maneuver through a system that is not always meant to be maneuvered through quickly. Don was professional, detail-oriented and made sure he took care of me in whatever way he could. For that, I know my husband is thanking him for taking care of his wife during the worst time of my life.”

Monica is emphatic about encouraging others to seek out DAV’s assistance. 

“Do not go through it alone,” she said. “Allow DAV and their vast experience to navigate the system, while you focus on becoming healthy. Asking for help is the strongest thing you could ever do.” 

Change, Monica knows, happens in the most uncomfortable of circumstances, and DAV is there for veterans and their families so no one has to go through loss, change and navigating the system for earned benefits, by themselves. 

“DAV gave me a place that understood where I was, worked with me, provided me resources and a shoulder to cry on,” she said. “I tell everyone to go to DAV. You are not a number—you are family.”