Aimee Zmysly and Yuriy Zmysly have friends, neighbors and Americans from all over the continent in their corner and now, at long last, the Federal Government for which Yuriy fought.
Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Konkol of the Chicago Sun Times got the ball rolling on April 4, 2010 with a story of Yuriy and Aimee's strength and love for one another. Mark Konkol, like his colleagues Natasha Korecki and Tim Novack, is a pitbull on a story.
This is great. What is greater happens to be the response of members of the VFW, American Legion, Windy City Veterans, and the good people who stepped up to help the young Marine and his bride.
Due to red-tape, I hope, Yuriy was denied disability benefits. Last year, Jim McMahon, Second City Cop, Detective Shaved and other blogs put out a call to help the Zmysly Family. The other local media ran stories too. Benefits were held and dollars poured in to help the young couple.
Now, the young couple has received their first check from the United States government.
For more than six years, Aimee Zmysly has been the unpaid caretaker for her husband, Yuriy Zmysly, who suffered a brain injury during routine surgery at a military hospital in North Carolina after surviving tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Marine Corps. He was left disabled, unable to see, walk or talk.
Now, thanks to a new federal law that the Oak Lawn couple helped spur the passage of, caregivers for severely disabled veterans can get a stipend from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Aimee Zmysly’s first check arrived about two weeks ago. It was for $3,541.26.
For Aimee Zmysly, 25, the money was more than just a $12-an-hour subsidy for giving up a career of her own to take care of her husband full-time. It was also validation.
“It’s good to be recognized for what I’ve been doing and other people have been doing for years,” she said.
“The whole reason why I take care of Yuriy, and have given up a lot, is because I wanted him home. He doesn’t belong in a hospital or a nursing home. It’s a hard job to do, especially when you are husband and wife, and you have all these roles — caregiver, wife and friend. It gets overwhelming.”
Mark Konkol was dogged. He wrote a series of articles and not "an" article to keep the story alive as the noble gent writes today - leaving his own part in the saga unmentioned.
In April 2010, the Zmyslys were living in a tiny room in Aimee’s parents’ house when “Aimee and Yuriy: A Love Story” appeared on the front page of a Sunday edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.Click my post title for the Konkol archives on this saga.
When the government notified Yuriy Zmysly it had declared him “medically retired” from the Marines, that sharply reduced his benefits, leaving the couple unable to afford the care he needed.
Touched by their story and in some cases angry about how the government had treated the couple, Sun-Times readers made sure the next chapter in their life story would be a happier one by contributing to an effort by the not-for-profit organization Salute Inc. to help the Zmyslys. As a result, last September, nearly five years to the day since they’d met, Aimee and Yuriy Zmysly moved in to a newly renovated and fully furnished house.
With all of the puffed-up egos, agenda-driven hacks, and iconic bullies in journalism, Mark Konkol stands out as a guy who does his job with humility as well as a great human heart. That is nobility.