• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 1s

How a stranger’s generosity helped a desperate Vietnam veteran

By Liz Raines Photojournalist: Ken Kulovany - 8:08 PM November 22, 2016
ANCHORAGE –

Last updated at 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23

We first introduced you to Robert Stevens in a Problem Solvers piece on Friday. For the last three years, he and his wife, Diane, have been trying to get benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Robert Stevens was exposed to the toxic herbicide known as Agent Orange while serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.

Now, their lives have taken a turn for the better because of one person who saw that story.

When we last met the couple, they were drowning in debt.

“They just turned us into collections because I’ve gotten to a point where there’s so many medical bills for Bob,” Diane Stevens said. “I just can’t do it anymore.”

Robert Stevens believes he was exposed to Agent Orange while making his way through Vietnam after receiving orders to return home to Minnesota on April 1, 1969.

“I had a quadruple bypass,” Robert Stevens explained. “And my heart doctor said it was from Agent Orange.”

In order to get any money from the VA, the Stevens have to prove he stepped foot on Vietnamese soil. However, the VA can’t find his records, so Robert and Diane Stevens are now searching for anyone who might still recognize him from that time.

Diane Stevens posted a cry for help on a reunion page for her husband’s ship, the USS Lynde McCormick. The Stevenses haven’t received a response yet, but someone else in the community was listening to their story.

One KTVA viewer was so moved by the couple’s story that he wanted to give them a check for $3,800.

“That’s what the Veterans Administration gave everybody from Vietnam that served in Vietnam, so I thought, ‘Well, he has his check now, he doesn’t have to go through all the red tape,'” he said, handing over the check.

The man wanted to donate anonymously and asked KTVA to deliver the money for him. The Stevenses thought our visit was a quick trip to pick up a permission slip to discuss their case with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Little did they know, their luck was about to change.

“Holy cow!” Robert Stevens said as he held the check.

“Oh my dear lord,” Diane Stevens exclaimed, falling back into her chair. “I’m going to put it in the bank and start paying bills, I really am. This will just pretty much cover everything and there might be a little left over, and if there is, I’d like to go see that new movie.”

When asked when the last time the two had been to see a movie, they looked at each other.

“Thirty years probably,” she laughed.

Thanks to a stranger’s generosity, the couple now has enough to stay afloat for a while.

“Thank you, whoever you are,” Robert Stevens said to the donor.

The Stevens’ still may not have much left over to put in the bank, but that’s not what’s important. Because for the last 35 years, they’ve always had each other.

On Wednesday, students from the King Career Center donated Thanksgiving food items to Robert and Diane, which KTVA delivered to the couple in time for Thanksgiving.

Know someone who has a problem like Robert? Email us at problemsolvers@ktva.com

KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Stubbs, Talkeetna’s honorary cat mayor, dies

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 22:25

    Stubbs, Talkeetna’s honorary cat mayor beloved by Alaskans and tourists alike, has died at the age of 20 according to the animal’s owners. Stubbs’ death was announced late Saturday in a statement from the Spone family, which purchased Nagley’s General Store and the West Rib Pub and Grill in 2015. Part of the contract, the […]

  • New White House communications director deletes old tweets contradicting Trump

    by CBS/AP on Jul 22, 19:55

    A day after accepting a top White House job, President Trump’s new communications director announced Saturday that he’s deleting old tweets that were critical of his new boss, saying his own views have evolved and that what he said in the past shouldn’t be a distraction. Full transparency: I'm deleting old tweets. Past views evolved […]

  • News

    Car-motorcycle crash hurts 2, closes Old Seward Highway south of Dowling Road

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 19:05

    The Old Seward Highway was closed Saturday night south of Dowling Road in both directions by a car-motorcycle collision that injured two people. Alaska road-conditions website 511.alaska.gov first mentioned the wreck at Old Seward near 69th Avenue shortly after 6 p.m. Anchorage police Sgt. Dawn Neer, at the scene, said a motorcycle had been headed […]

  • News

    Efforts continue to save Anchorage’s 4th Avenue Theatre

    by Dave Leval on Jul 22, 17:38

    There’s no denying Sandy Harper loves the 4th Avenue Theatre. “The theater has been here longer than I have,” said Harper, who has called Anchorage home for 30 years. The building has been part of the downtown Anchorage skyline for more than twice that, a span of 70 years. “I don’t think there’s anything like […]

  • Dozens hospitalized for excessive drinking at Chance The Rapper concert

    by CBS/AP on Jul 22, 17:28

    HARTFORD, Conn. — More than 90 people were hospitalized Friday during a concert featuring Chance the Rapper in Connecticut, officials said. A large number of people hospitalized were underage attendees experiencing “severe intoxication,” Hartford Deputy Chief Brian Foley said Saturday. Foley said officers made 50 underage drinking referrals Friday at Hot 93.7′s Hot Jam concert at Xfinity Theatre. […]

  • News

    Coast Guard: Kodiak missile test could occur as early as next week

    by Associated Press on Jul 22, 14:15

    KODIAK, Alaska (AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard says a launch from the Kodiak Island rocket launch complex in Alaska will occur as soon as next week. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports a U.S. Coast Guard notice released Wednesday states the launch is scheduled to occur at the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska between 7 p.m. on […]

  • Son charged in death of father whose body was left on couch for weeks

    by CBS/AP on Jul 22, 14:12

    FRACKVILLE, Pa. — A man has been charged with killing his father, who authorities say was shot to death and his body then left on a couch in his home for weeks. Tyler Swantek, 24, faces charges in Schuylkill County including criminal homicide, first- and third-degree murder, aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse in the […]

  • News

    Search suspended for man overboard from skiff in Prince William Sound

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 13:21

    The U.S. Coast Guard spent much of Friday looking for a man who fell overboard from a skiff on the west side of Prince William Sound, but was unable to locate any sign of him. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said that the man went overboard at about 2 a.m. Friday from a commercial […]