FOX 32 helps Vietnam veteran get refund from Villa Park

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Today was Veteran's Day, and in west suburban Villa Park, a Vietnam veteran who's been struggling to make ends meet got a little help from FOX 32’s Larry Yellen.

“I was in Fox Company, second battalion fourth marines, third marine division, we were known as the Magnificent Bastards,” said U.S. Marine Peter Blage.

Blage enlisted in the Marines right out of high school. His duty included some harrowing moments in  Vietnam.

“I was possibly one of the last Marines to board the helicopter that left Saigon, in '75,” Blage said.

The 61-year-old veteran has certainly paid his dues to the country. But he hasn't been paying his bills to the village of Villa Park. Specifically, his water bills, which shut off on Tuesday.

“I wanted to take a shower to refreshen myself, and when I went to turn the water on, the water was shut off,” Blage said.

He was $273 behind and the former tool and die maker says his disability income had been reduced over the summer which left him essentially broke. He never told the village about his predicament.

“But if he would have contacted us in May, June, July, or August, and said, hey, can you help me, I’m falling behind. Sure, we would have put him on a payment plan,” said village manger Rich Keehner.

“I'm borrowed out. I'm ashamed to borrow. I’m ashamed to ask,” Blage said.

When Blage tried to pay the bill on Tuesday, he was told there would also be a $100 fee for turning his water back on. He used all of his emergency cash on hand, and also borrowed from a friend, to finally pay the bill.

Now, his water's back on and after FOX 32 spoke with village officials Wednesday, they agreed to refund the $100 fee, making his Veteran's day maybe just a little bit better.

Villa Park President Deborah Bullwinkel gave FOX 32 a statement saying veterans are owed a debt for their service, not just on Veterans Day, but every day. She said she wants changes made to make sure something like this never happens again.

Village officials say the $100 "turn on" fee was added because crews sometimes work overtime to get the water back on.

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