BERLIN – A local veteran who suffers from terminal glioblastoma multiforme as the result of his exposure to burn pits during his military service in Afghanistan recently learned he is now approved to receive full veteran’s affairs service-connected compensation benefits, including retroactive benefits.
Peter Antioho, who served in the U.S. Army from 2009 to 2015 on active duty, had previously been denied claims for service connected compensation benefits.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal heard of Antioho’s case and helped him fight to obtain his service connected compensation benefits, which is why on Friday, Blumenthal made the announcement at the Veterans Memorial Park along the vet and his family.
Antioho’s cancer is a malignant brain tumor which he has been fighting with the support of his wife Amy and his 3-year-old son, Mark.
“There are many other veterans, service men and women who have been exposed to the same toxins and poison,” Blumenthal said. “These toxins and poison need to be recognized for what they are. They are a cause of invisible wounds and injuries for countless people who have suffered from the same kinds of diseases caused by burn pits and other poisons and toxins on the battlefields. That’s why I’ve offered legislation that would require recognition of burn pit injuries as well as research into the other poisons on the battlefields and make sure that we treat these poisons for what they are, causes of wounds.”
For the Antioho family, the recent approval of the service-connected compensation benefits is bittersweet. On the one hand, they are happy Antioho will finally receive the benefits, but on the other hand, the process of being able to obtain those benefits was long and difficult.
Amy Antioho said one of the hardest parts of the process was “hearing no so often and initially taking that no as a final answer.”
She said they had to learn “that there’s always someone else you need to talk to who can say yes. You just have to keep trying,” she added.
For Peter Antioho, the most important thing is fighting and defeating the cancer and being present for his son and wife, he said.
Antioho thanked his wife and Blumenthal for their efforts, but said he realized that more public awareness of the issue is needed.
“I would like to bring attention to other veterans who are still suffering from the effects of toxic exposure and in need of assistance and support,” Antioho said. “There is still much more to be done.”