Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

World War II panhandler hangs up his orange vest

TAMPA — Tony Jacondino woke up at 4 a.m. He watched some television, took a shower and smoked a cigarette. It was like any other morning, except this time, the World War II veteran was nervous.

Jacondino, 84, and his wife arrived at the Veterans Affairs audiology clinic an hour early. They left time for unexpected events, like a flat tire. "I'd call a cab if that happened," Jacondino said.

The results of Jacondino's hearing exam could determine if he's eligible for a VA disability pension. He believes his tinnitus — the ringing in his ears — was caused by the booming cannon on the tank he drove for several years in the Philippines.

He's not sure how much money he could receive from the VA, but knows anything would help.

Jacondino has been panhandling since June, after his wife suffered a minor stroke and had to quit her job. He was ashamed to stand in the median at Columbus Drive and Dale Mabry Highway, but he didn't see any other option as they fell about $400 behind on their bills each month.

At the clinic, the doctor listened to Jacondino's issues for about 10 minutes. He brought his medications: one for his heart, one for his blood pressure, one for cholesterol and one to help him sleep.

Then the doctor gave him headphones and conducted the hearing test. Jacondino estimates it lasted about a half an hour.

"I tried my best," he said.

At the end, he asked the doctor how he did, but she couldn't say. He said she told him that because he's seeking compensation, he'll have to wait to hear from VA officials in about six to eight weeks.

Jacondino is hopeful he'll hear back earlier. In the meantime, he knows he'll be okay. He and his wife are in a better position now.

After reading about Jacondino's financial plight in the St. Petersburg Times on Jan. 8, some readers donated to Jacondino. Then, mid week, Carol Jacondino, 62, got her first Social Security check. And someone took care of one of her medical bills, she said.

Tony Jacondino hasn't panhandled all week, he said. Jacondino said the additional Social Security income helps a lot, but without health insurance for Carol, he's still concerned about their financial situation.

He asked that a reporter convey one thing: "Can you say that I am so overwhelmed with the people who responded, who were so concerned? I want to thank them very, very much."



World War II panhandler hangs up his orange vest 01/14/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 15, 2011 9:41am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.