Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

WWII veteran's Tampa panhandling stirs offers of help

Anthony Jacondino, 84, a World War II veteran, turned to panhandling along Tampa streets to help pay the bills after his wife suffered a stroke and couldn’t work.


Anthony Jacondino, 84, a World War II veteran, turned to panhandling along Tampa streets to help pay the bills after his wife suffered a stroke and couldn’t work.

TAMPA — Monday started with a call from Veterans Affairs for a World War II veteran who had turned to panhandling to pay his bills.

Anthony Jacondino said the VA wants to see if he might qualify for a disability pension. His appointment: 10 a.m. Friday.

For the first time in months, he feels hopeful.

Jacondino, 84, was the subject of a story in Saturday's St. Petersburg Times, after he caught the attention of motorists at Dale Mabry Highway and Columbus Drive.

He served in the Philippines before leaving the Army in 1947 and then worked most of his life as an apartment maintenance man. His first wife died years ago, and in April, his second wife suffered a stroke.

They had been living on his $980 Social Security check and her income cleaning rooms at a local nursing home. With her unable to work at 62, they fell about $400 behind on their bills each month.

So Jacondino bought an orange vest and penned a message on cardboard: World War II vet in need of help.

Jacondino told a reporter he felt ashamed to beg, but didn't see another option. He hoped that his hearing difficulties might qualify him for some sort of pension. They had appeared soon after the war. He had talked to VA representatives but got nowhere, he said.

After reading about Jacondino, about 50 people contacted the Times, most of them outraged, many asking how to help. (No fund has been set up, but the Times relayed their offers and contact information to Jacondino.)

Sandy Hutton of Belleair said the board of the Tampa Bay Veterans Alliance discussed Jacondino's situation at its Saturday meeting. The nonprofit has since reached out to Jacondino to see if it can help him navigate the VA benefit system.

"It is a heartbreaking thing to read of this gentleman who has served and sacrificed so much for his country," Hutton wrote.

One Tampa reader said that as a fellow veteran, he's particularly concerned. Michael Delamer, 33, said he served seven years in the Coast Guard, leaving in 2009.

"I may have to reach out to the VA one day for help," he said. "What's going to happen to me?"

Many readers asked for an update on the VA's decision. Veteran's officials, contacted last week by the Times, had said they would take another look at Jacondino's case.

Jacondino said his appointment is for a physical examination at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center. It's an important step in determining whether he might be eligible for a disability pension.

"I'll be there," he said.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or

WWII veteran's Tampa panhandling stirs offers of help 01/10/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 10, 2011 10:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Erasmo Ramirez shuts down his old Rays teammates

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem is, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  3. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  4. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.
  5. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.