CRIME VICTIMS GETTING HELP
Anthony Damiani, the 46 year old homeless veteran in Laura Ahearn's office, had been brutally beaten in front of a Suffolk fast food restaurant in November. His face had been bashed with a bat, knocking out all of his teeth and he had come by to see about getting a new set. To start the process with the Crime Victim Board, the state agency that offers money to crime victims, Ahearn and other staffers at Suffolk's Crime Victims Center asked the man to fill out paperwork on the incident. Damiani wrote teeth in the space on one form asking for an accounting of essential personal property he lost. The process of connecting victims to organizations that can help them should be easier now that Suffolk police have joined an aggressive effort to make the victims of such crimes aware of available funding, Ahearn said. Medicaid was billed after doctors treating Damiani at Stony Brook University Hospital took care of his injuries after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Kings park last month. But when asked about scheduling follow-up appointments, he was told he would need to pay cash up front since he was uninsured. He was left with a broken left leg, broken ribs and a gash on his head after he was struck as he walked home from his job as a cook on December 19. He turned to the agency and the first order of business was paying for a new pair of glasses, which were crushed when he was struck. He also needed surgery for a detached retina to save his eyesight, his surgery was paid for with help from the new Suffolk agency. He now has his eyesight and will get a new set of teeth after his paperwork is processed, Ahearn said. The reality is that crime costs all of us, she said.