Inaugural Post — Air Force Veteran from Vietnam Era Finally Gets Paid Back
Graydon Law’s inaugural Veteran Spotlight turns its gaze upon Mike Deriso—Vietnam War Era Air Force Staff Sgt., carpenter and one of Northern Kentucky’s finest anglers. Mike served our great country from 1965-1969 where he was deployed to Southeast Asia to support combat operations in the jungles of Vietnam. Like so many brave young Men and Women, Mike was exposed to the tactical herbicide known as Agent Orange and the general rigors of a fast paced deployment. Upon exit from the Air Force, Staff Sgt. Deriso attempted to navigate the Veterans Administration system for the next 45 years. And though he was able to obtain a 30% disability rating, Mike knew that he simply needed more help from his country as the health effects from his time in service began to multiply. He sought help with his claim from some public resources but was told there was nothing more to be done. Enter Graydon Law’s Veterans Initiative, led by Kristine Maher and her team.
The Veterans Initiative was quickly able to obtain access to Mr. Deriso’s VA medical records and claim file where they noticed an active appeal that had been lost for over three years. The team reactivated the appeal and submitted a written argument to the Board of Veterans Appeals for a ruling. An expedited hearing was requested and granted due to Mr. Deriso’s financial hardship with a favorable decision coming only two months later. After another short battle with the local VA regional office, Mr. Deriso’s rating was improved to 100%, and he received backpay for the five years his claim was pending. Mr. Deriso remains a client and still stands a chance of getting paid back to shortly after his discharge in 1969.
As for today, you can find the legendary Staff Sgt. paying it forward while cruising around in his all white 2009 Mercedes CLS550 (See Photo) or down on Lake Cumberland trolling for a trophy bass or two. Speaking of fishing, legend has it that a person fitting Mr. Deriso’s description was seen diving off a boat in an attempt to preserve dinner for the evening. Apparently he saved upwards of 5 keeper fish that were nearly lost when the stringer broke loose. We here at the Veteran Spotlight salute Staff Sgt. Deriso for his service and for his faith in us to get the job done. God Bless America!