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Vet finally retires after a WPTV story helped him get his VA benefits

Posted at 11:53 PM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-28 23:53:21-04

Tom Flanagan has the best porch on the block.

“This is my sanctuary at night usually.  I’m enjoying life for a change,” he said. 

For years, the 72 year-old slugged away making minimum wage plus commission selling mattresses to make ends meet.

He’s down to a piece of one kidney after bad water in the 60’s at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina gave him cancer. 

Until our story in March, the VA gave him no compensation. 

Today, he’s mastered his retirement pose, with his dog Maggie in Vero Beach.

“It’s a whole new feeling.  It really is.  It was something that was overdue.  I wish I could have done this a long time ago.  I never thought I would be here this long so I never really did make good plans,” he said. 

He’s making up for lost time. With a wide open schedule, he’s seeing an old Captain, a friend from their Lejeune days.  He’s flying to Missouri Wednesday.

“It’s such a joy for me to have the time and money to be able and go see him and help him celebrate his birthday.  It’s probably the last time we’re going to see each other, you know?,” he said holding up an 80th birthday card. 

In about a month he’s going to try being a snowbird on for size.  His daughters live in Rhode Island.

“This is the first time in 5 years I’m gonna go up there in July and be able to spend the rest of the summer up there until it starts getting a little bit breezy because I can’t handle the cold anymore,” he said with a smile. 

He’ll be back though - on the porch, music up, making plans for his next trip.  But here is pretty good too.