Disabled US Army veteran battles City of Miami after home renovation

WSVN — With Thanksgiving on Thursday, a disabled Army veteran is thankful but frustrated. It centers around a city-backed project to fix the vet’s home, and what he feels were broken promises. Carmel Cafiero is on the case.    

George Carswell: "I was with the Ninth Infantry Division, second of the 41st  ‘A’ Company."

George Carswell is a U.S. Army veteran. He’s reluctant to talk about his time in Vietnam.

George Carswell: "I’ll try to share a little bit. You know, I have seen my friends lay beside me and get their brains blown out. Seen other friends shot up and wounded."

Now George is fighting health problems.

George Carswell: "I’m a diabetic, I got COPD. All of this comes through Agent Orange in Vietnam, being sprayed with it."

But the 69-year-old is also fighting the City of Miami. George got help renovating his aging home through a city program for veterans.

George Carswell: "They came in, they tore all the kitchen, the bathroom. They did a good on that part. I can’t knock that."

But what he is knocking is what he considers the city’s failure to follow through on other promises.

George Carswell: "They had a big ceremony."

These are pictures from a ceremony at George’s home in 2014. The city celebrated completion of the work in a press release, tweet and newsletter.

Mayor Tomas Regalado: "He was very happy that day."

But that day is long gone. George says his home was left unfinished.

George Carswell: "They were supposed to have painted along the baseboards. They didn’t."

Wires and holes were left exposed.  

George Carswell: "All of these holes I had to patch myself."

George says he was told his front doors would be widened for his motorized scooter, but they weren’t.  

George Carswell: "It should have been much wider, this much wider. I need this much on each side for the scooter to come in."

But Mayor Tomas Regalado says that work was never part of the plan.  

Mayor Tomas Regalado: "I don’t think he was promised a new house. I think that he was promised help, and that’s what he got."

George’s house was supposed to be the first of many veteran homes to be updated in Miami, but so far, this is it.

Mayor Tomas Regalado: "I’m disappointed in the whole project. What we never wanted is to have a veteran of the United States Armed Forces disappointed."

We asked, and the mayor agreed, to meet at George’s home to listen to his concerns.

George Carswell: "How are you doing?"

Mayor Tomas Regalado: "How are you?"

After a tour of the home, there was agreement that some of the work could be improved.  

George Carswell: "I’ll be happy. I’ll be very happy."

Mayor Tomas Regalado: "And I think, you know, I think these are legitimate issues. Very small, but legitimate issues."

Is there more help for an American hero in time for the holidays? There’s now a fighting chance. Carmel Cafiero, 7News.  

The City of Miami is still looking for elderly veterans who are in need of home repairs. If you know someone, you can contact the Mayor’s Office.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Office of the Mayor
(305) 250-5300
eduran@miamigov.com

IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:

Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE
Broward: 954-921-CLUE
E-mail: clue@wsvn.com
You can also send a tweet to @carmelonthecase