Veteran gets new furnace after 11 months without heat - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM


Veteran gets new furnace after 11 months without heat

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

A local veteran has been living with a broken furnace for 11 months.

Since our first story ran earlier this week, we heard from dozens of you who wanted to help out and today, the veteran got a brand new furnace.

It's like music to Lorraine Pickard's ears.

"It was a relief for me because I've been working a long time to try to get him to this point," Pickard added.

Raymond Benoit added, "I'm not a bragger, but I love my sister.  She's been very, very good to me."

Last February, Benoit - a retired veteran in his 80s - discovered he needed a new furnace in his West Springfield mobile home.  He couldn't afford it, so he contacted fuel assistance and said they told him they'd install a new one as soon as possible.

[RELATED: Local veteran left without heat during bitter temperatures]

Days, then weeks, then months wore on until, finally, it was so cold that Benoit's family reached out to Western Mass News and we aired a story Tuesday.

"My phone's been ringing off the hook," Pickard added.

Ours were too.  Dozens of viewers reached out, asking how they could help Benoit.

"The VFW is paying for the furnace," said Norman Buns, commander of VFW Post 6714 in West Springfield.

Joshua Smith, service manage for Berkshire Heating and Air Conditioning, added, "We saw the story, so I called your news station and asked how I could get in contact."

Smith is a veteran himself and he wanted to help.

"Nobody in this weather, veteran or not, should be freezing. It's just not right," Smith added.

[RELATED: Community pitches in to help West Springfield veteran without heat]

This all happened on one of the coldest days of the year and just one day after a big snowstorm.

"No more sponge-bathing. I can use my shower now," Benoit explained.

Pickard noted, "It's about time."

Benoit has been sleeping on his couch, where it's warmer, and using two electric heaters to heat the entire home.

The West Springfield Senior Center is now paying Benoit's next electric bill, which has been high because of the heaters.

"I've been very, very fortunate," Benoit said.

Benoit said that he's had more visitors and phone calls since our first story aired this week than he's had in months.  He said that he is so thankful to all the people who have reached out offering to help him and he's looking forward to sleeping in his warm bedroom.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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