Donors have come to the aid of Daniel Foster, the 23-year-old wounded Army veteran who holds a Purple Heart and Silver Star but was facing foreclosure because he couldn’t get his veterans benefits.
One donor, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote a check for $12,000, the amount Foster and his disabled father Rex Foster owe for delinquent mortgage payments for the family home in Costa Mesa. Lenders had threatened to foreclose the day before Thanksgiving.
In addition, other checks have been received for $10, $25, $100 and two checks for $500 since a Voice of OC article on Foster’s ordeal was published on Veterans Day, said Deane Tate, president and CEO of the nonprofit Veterans First.
The money has been put in a trust account, said Tate, who last week began helping Foster try to get his benefits and negotiate with the lenders. A dentist also has volunteered his services.
“The outpouring from the community has just been amazing,” Foster said.
A veteran of two combat tours — one in Iraq and another in Afghanistan — Foster was seriously wounded in May 2010 when suicide bombers attacked his outpost in Afghanistan with a truck full of explosives.
Foster was cited for bravery during the attack, continuing to fight attackers even after he had been riddled with shrapnel from the explosion.
But he still hasn’t received a benefit check from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Somehow his application wound up in the wrong office, and the VA still hasn’t explained how this happened, Tate said.
In addition to financial benefits from the VA, Foster needs a series of corrective surgeries to repair serious damage to the bones in his mouth. Shrapnel hit him in the face, and he has no upper or lower teeth across the front of his mouth. He has also lost a substantial amount of the bone that would support false teeth.
Foster said once all of the back mortgage payments are made, “every penny over what’s owed to the mortgage will go to Veterans First” to help other vets.
While he doesn’t yet have it in writing, Foster and Tate said they jointly spoke with his lenders this week and have assurances the foreclosure proceedings will be halted.
“By the end of the week, everything should be going good again,” said Foster.
Tate has been on the telephone trying to track down Foster’s benefits. He applied more than a year ago.
“I still don’t have any answers for David as far as [VA] benefits go,” said Tate. “It’s been a week. We want to know they found [Foster’s application] and they’re processing it.”
Among those Tate contacted on Foster’s behalf was his congressman, GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
Kathleen Staunton, Rohrabacher’s district director, said federal privacy laws prevent her from discussing Foster.
“All members of Congress are required to get the permission of a constituent to open an inquiry,” she said, and the constituent or someone acting on behalf of the constituent must contact member’s office.
“That person has to request the member’s intervention, and it has to be in writing,” she said. “For Daniel and all of those Daniels out there, we work these cases with a passion.”
Tate said she’s given Foster the paperwork to fill out so that Rohrabacher can act.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Santa Ana, the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, raised Foster’s case in a brief floor speech Wednesday.
“Let us take this time to thank Mr. Foster and our neighbors and friends who are veterans for their services. We will not let you go without the benefits you have earned defending our country,” Sanchez said.
— TRACY WOOD