While leaving a VA appointment recently, Guido Filippone, a Marine who served from 2004 to 2008, spotted a veteran wearing a World War II cap and stopped to thank him for his service, The two men started chatting and he learned the man’s name was Mike Gazella and that he was coming to the VA clinic in Austin to see if they could cover past due medical bills that were piling up.
Filippone says Gazella told him Medicare covers most of the expenses from operations he’d previously had, but he was having a hard time cutting through the red tape to get the VA to cover the $4,000 balance. Filippone offered to help Gazella, but the older veteran refused, so Filippone set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money instead.
They’ve blown past the $4,000 goal, in the three days the crowdfunding campaign has been running, more than $15,500 has been donated. Now Filippone just needs to track down Gazella to give him a check so he can stop worrying about the medical bills. And he hopes others will pay it forward like he did. “It’s nice to give back when you can,” Filippone says.