Paralyzed Desert Storm Vet Fighting To Keep His Home

Housing Authority Making Life Tough For Vassallos Of N. Bergen

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBS 2) — A paralyzed veteran who once fought for his country is now fighting to keep his home.

The North Bergen Housing Authority is trying to evict the former Marine because he’s getting help from a friend. His despondent wife told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez they’re harassing her hero.

Page Vassallo said she’s heartbroken that her husband, Sean, is not sleeping in his own bed.

The 41-year-old Desert Storm veteran is paralyzed, and is now hospitalized while the couple faces eviction from their apartment.

“I just want my husband home with me,” Page said.

Sean Vassallo suffered brain trauma and became paralyzed after a car accident in 2008. He lives with his wife of 10 years in a North Bergen Housing Authority building for the elderly and disabled.

“Every day it gets harder and harder,” Page said. “It’s not an easy thing dealing with a husband that’s paralyzed.”

When a home health aide is not available, a family friend helps Page Vassallo with lifting and bathing her husband several days a week.

“That person is just here to help me. They may stay a night or two if I’m having a hard time with my husband,” Page said. “I need the help. I have no family support.”

The Housing Authority sent the Vassallos multiple notices saying their friend’s frequent visits are a violation of their lease, so they must move.

“He can’t spend more than 14 nights here without violating the lease and being considered a permanent resident,” Housing Authority spokesperson Paul Swibinski said.

“This is a complete injustice,” said Mario Blanch, the Vassallo family attorney.

The Vassallos hired Blanch to fight to keep their home – and their help.

“He doesn’t intend to live here with Page and Sean,” Blanch said. “He’s here to help, and they’re trying to take away this individual’s support system.”

“He’ll never change,” Page added. “He’ll be like this for the rest of his life.”

Page Vassallo said she won’t bring her husband home until the eviction issue is cleared up. She’s hoping that happens on Feb. 22, when the couple is due in landlord-tenant court.

A Housing Authority spokesperson said the Vassallos would not be violating their lease if the friend didn’t stay overnight.

This story make you angry? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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  • Isoken

    Back again tonite, what is going on with this family now? Is anyone able to reach them? CHRIS CHRISTIE HAS GIVEN US THE THUMB DOWN SIGN. What else do we expect from this people? Do we need to carry placards to reach the hearts of men? Let every man arise and come to the aid of this family and God will us all.

  • Pappawtom

    Why didn’t the housing authority go directly to the friend since they know who he is and tell him that he is going to cause the Vassallo’s to lose their apartment because of his excessive overnight stays. If he was a true friend he would do the right thing in this case. Where I live there are many people who live in housing authority properties that have “friends” that stay with them all the time on the taxpayer’s dollar. Now since this housing authority is on top of this they dropped the ball by not telling the friend what trouble he was calling. I know they don’t have to do that but it would be the better approach and might end the dilemna or the friend could pay the extra rent that will be necessary.

  • Millie

    And another thing who cares if his friend stayed over, he is an American
    Hero for God Sake! Have some compassion and love for you men and
    women in uniform.
    Can’t say it enough that you are a very bad human being for doing this
    to this Hero!!!!!!!

  • Millie

    They own this man everything, To evict him for his home is horrible.
    This is what America does to our mean and women in unifor.
    He is a hero and you want to throw him and his wife in the stree.
    Instead of treating him like this how come they are not helping this
    hero get the care he needs by donanting some money to help them.
    What a shame that people are treated this way and especially a miliatry
    personnel who fought for their freedomes and ours.
    This is a disgrace. Let him and his wife stay there for free.
    He deserves no less.

  • Isoken

    Let’s see democracy in action.

  • jay simonini

    As a disabled former Marine, I have no regard for what the housing authority thinks or even what the rules may state. This is a brother Marine in distress, end of discussion.

    To all the other Marines who may read this, what are we going to do to help our fellow Marine in need? It would appear that he and his family are in need of civilian legal aid as well as assistance from the VA.

    For my part, i will be contacting my DAV rep to see what can be done. Lets not leave a Marine in need behind.

    Semper Fi

    • Millie


      I have never served but appreciate our men and women in uniform.
      Thank you for your service. If you find anything out or take up donations
      I want to give what I can to help your Marine brother. This is so wrong.
      Or if there is someone I can contact to help please let me know.

  • MEinJapan

    Being a veteran and seeing how this fellow veteran is being treated makes me sick! He fought for his country and has truthfully asked nothing in return. Now he needs the help of others and the housing authority/landlord won’t allow him and his wife that dignity. This just shames me to no end. It’s time for America to stand up and embrace those who have served in a proper way instead of once there service is complete throwing them under the bus as it were to be crushed!

  • Charles Perkins

    I’m a veteran. I suffer from bouts of depression. This news is DEPRESSING!
    But fortunately Mr. Vassallo is a survivor.His strengths far outweigh any
    demeaning action, which I’m am sure will be resolved responsibly, by the agency in question. Even though he is a “Tuefel Hinden” aka Devil Dog, God is on his side, and so is the rest of the USMC. Semper Fi. Sean, you will win your case on the 22nd of February!

  • Marcus UK

    Welcome to America

  • Wasilla Gorila

    Governor Christie, do something for this Jersey guy please!

  • Mr. Armenia


    24 hour care is provided in a nursing home.

    • Anonymous

      Do you work for the Housing Authority? Or are you just a moron?

    • Minnie

      Mr. Armenia–why should this man have to be placed in a nursing home because of GREED when he already has the care he needs right where he lives. Why don’t you just go sit at the nursing home everyday for one week. Maybe then you won’t be so quick to tell ANYONE that they should live there when they have what they need at home. Some rich, giving actor or singer or someone should GIVE this man a home. They would do it for Africa, Hungary, Ethiopia why not the good ole’ U.S. of A?

  • Terrence

    What planet is this Mr. Armenia from? He is heartless. This vet is a true American hero who should be receiving 24 hour care. Shame on the VA for not providing around the clock care!

  • Micha

    ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING THE WAY WE DO OUR VETS!!!! What about when these chicks living in the projects have boyfriends moving in who aren’t on the lease? No one complains about that, why? Because they’re “entitled.” In my opinion, our vets should get better treatment than freeloaders who never worked a day in their lives… but hey, thats just me. I just pay taxes, that’s all..

  • Blirn Kreufsset

    Shame! The paralized veteran needs help, the person who stays overnight does so ONLY to provide that help. There cannot be any rule which prohibites such a situation.

    How can a man who served this country be treated so shabbily by a handful of pathetic so called “civil servants”? Is there anybody at the NBHA with some brains and a little bit of good sense? Or are everyone of them a bunch of robots incapable of distinguishing between a violation of the code and a clear exception?

    Is anybody listening? Where are the politicians who always assure us they are paying attention to citizens needs? Somebody is got to do something, first of all stop these shameful proceedings against the veteran and his wife and second, put these fools at the NBHA in their place, making sure that they are not misbehaving with other people in the name of rules they cannot even understand or apply.

    • Mr. Armenia

      rules must be respected.

      • John

        Wow, you would make a good Nazi.

  • Pablo Ulises Cecilio

    Shame on you, NBHA

  • Mr. Armenia

    The Housing Authority rules must be respected and obviously they are being violated by the friend of Mr. Vassallo.

    Its a great thing they he did fight for our country but rules here are being broken. There are other people out there that are having problems getting into Public Housing becuase of some of the residents that are breaking the rules.

    • Kate0803

      You are a violation, and signify everything that is wrong with this country.

    • Kate0803

      This is EXACTLY what public housing is for! And you honestly believe that because he needs 24 hour care he needs to be thrown out? You should be ashamed of yourself!

      • Mr. Armenia

        multiple notices are a violation of their lease

  • Raymond Velazquez

    what is this world coming to.? i am ashame to by called a human being, when i hear stuff like this.

  • Tim Stiklius

    The housing authority should be ashamed of themselves. Being a veteren myself and served during Desert Storm. Its a big responsibility for just one person/care taker to take care of paralyzed person, especially being the wife. How can she manage because of weight restrictions and the medical training needed to look after disabled person. Sad story, and knowing he’s a US veteran who served his country honourably.

  • Joe

    I’m an Active Duty Military member myself. This is heart breaking and offensive that they can’t work with this family concerning the issue. I say they should take everyone that works for the housing authority there and send them over to Iraq or Afghanistan. Let them see first hand what it’s like to defend our great Nation. This guy is a hero and that’s how he is rewarded. He should be getting top notch medical care and put up in a house with adequate support. What is our country coming too?

  • James

    That’s right; just take a big S%@t on the people who have served this country. I too am a retiring Veteran, Served three times in Iraq. I just see how quickly things change. After 2003 we were heroes, now ten years later having PTSD and brain damage I am a pain in the a$$ in this forgotten war. I still have family that don’t even understand military service because they have never served, but God forbid if their food stamps or welfare payments are late, or they can’t get a $25 dollar an hour job It just makes me sick! I am just counting down the days until I am legally separated so that I can really voice my opinion. Because those of you that do not serve, you don’t have 1st amendment rights in the military.

  • Donald Bezzina (Malta- Europe)

    I find this situation exremely shameful and unbecoming of these persons. Where are the values of solidarity and compassion? I am honestly disgusted here. Is that the way to treat a serviceman? I am not a serviceman myself but as a teacher, I have to warn the persons who are hell bent on evicting this family that they do themselves no honor and are setting a dangerous precedent. Is this the way we teach our children how to treat our disabled citizens? What a shame!

  • CaliforniaGirl492

    It is ridiculous that a landlord or agency can tell you that you can’t have guests, family or caretakers in your home. In California, mobil home park owners have the protection of the Civil Code, giving them permission to limit the time family or friends can stay in your home (yes, the homes are owned by the tenants. They only rent the strip of land they are on.) Thy run credit checks even on family and if they don’t meet their standards, they are refused, even though you cannot accept help with the rent from them. It’s just crazy!

  • Anonymous

    First of all, it clearly says he became paralyzed when he got into a car accident. Second, this man fought for our country and that’s how you respond? Being a member of the armed forces myself, it’s EXTREMELY offensive reading this and you should be grateful this man served our country.

  • glenn miguel

    What a ruthless system…

  • Ismail Md Said

    with the Islamic justice system , every disabled person is the complete responsibility of the state , because the state is representative of the people , and is fully responsible with the wellbeing of its every citizen , without exception of the stature of the person , period.

  • Ismail Md Said

    with the Islamic justice system , every disabled person is the complete responsibility of the state , because the state is representative of the people , and is fully responsible with the wellbwing of its every citizen , without exception of the stature of the person , period.

    • Thomas

      with the islamic system they kill people for not believing the way they do also ,Kepp your ass hole muhhamed out of my way.

  • Jeremy Robert Plante

    I am wheelchair bound and have a caregiver spend the night at my apartment several nights a week as well. Whether that caregiver is an RN, an NA, LPN, CA, or just a friend helping out; sometimes they HAVE to stay over for convenience or necessities sake. Being evicted for needing help? That is atrocious and I can’t see my landlord ever doing such a disgraceful thing. Someone get this man a lawyer, sue the Housing Authority, and then move him here to Canada where we actually attempt to take care of our disabled and not warehouse them in institutions or evict them for needing assistance. I realize that Crane, Poole, and Schmidt is a fictitious firm from a TV show; but someone like David E Kelly needs to write this guy a defense and get him a monumental and precedent setting settlement immediately so these brutal injustices do not continue. Denny Crane, Alan Shore…. where are the legal heroes when we need someone to stand up for those who can’t?

    • Jeremy Robert Plante

      This story should not be buried in the news by issues like Justin Beiber’s views on healthcare or what Lindsay Lohan is wearing to court. Share this story with everyone you know. The disabled in North America and World Wide are often treated like second class citizens and are a severely abused and belittled demographic that is treated as an offensive minority that society only pities and never helps further the rights of these citizens. I am personally disgusted and hope this man’s landlord ends up in the worst home for the elderly some day so that he knows how it feels to be ignored, abused , and generally mistreated by society. I am not a rich man, but if there is a lawyer out there willing to defend this man’s rights to stay in his home please contact me and I personally will pay whatever legal fees I can afford to assist.

  • Vincent Merkel

    This is a disgrace……….Where is Chris Christie? From what I constantly hear from out of right wing mouths is how much more Patriotic they over everyone else in this country……I am sure that when he comes back from wherever he is this week( he never seems to be in Jersey) he will run to his aide ….Right ……

  • Shelli Lipton

    This is what happens when you have a system that cares more about money than people. Shame, shame on this stupid rule. The man is paralyzed and requires care his wife is not able to cope with alone. Duh! Does it have to happen to someone in the Housing Authority for them to understand?

  • Ray Owen

    Typical unthinking civil servant approach. Quite disgusting in fact, this guy risked his life for their safety, but then this happens to so many veterans, they are simply numbers to sreve the needs of the politicians!

  • Juanox

    There should be an exception to the rule! Tryin to evict a paralyze hero? Cmon!

  • smokersodysseycom

    Where’s the VA in all of this- they Suck!

  • Todd C. Spicer

    This is another case of someone who has a sense of authority for the first time in their life, They need to clean up the Housing Authority and fire anybody that had anything to do with this case

  • http://Yahoo Marchelle

    What is this world coming 2? How do u evict a paralyzed vet? Who is so lackn a life that all they do is monitor who spends the nite at a paralyzed vets home?smdh

    • Mr. Armenia

      How do u evict a paralyzed vet?
      by taking him to civil court.

      • sean

        You must be a real peach if you have no compassion for the brave men and women of our armed forces that allow you to sleep at night in your own bed enjoying all the freedoms that they protect with there lives. You are a really sad excuse for a human being.

  • isoken

    It’s amazing what people call violation. Please, for once, can we learn to be empathetic and think of how to help this family that has served his country?
    Rules are not made to entangle pple or make lives difficult, they are made to ensure peace and sanity.
    Please, let us leave this family alone, arrange for a health aide for them and make their lives easier and the burden lighter for them.
    Thank you.

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