PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif – On Christmas day 2016, U.S. Navy Seabee Peter Mellett suffered a devastating loss when his wife Veronica died of a sudden brain aneurism while the couple was celebrating the holiday with their five children at Lake Tahoe.
“My 5 year old daughter Isabella said goodbye to her mother for the very last time by holding her hand.” said Mellett of Veronica’s final moments.
This loss left the family stunned for several years as they struggled with their new reality. Mellett moved from active duty to the reserves to adjust to his new role as a single parent. In 2017, he retired from the Navy and transitioned into a civilian career. He did this all without any additional spousal benefits as he believed there was no program to help his situation.
However, on Father’s Day 2020, the now retired Mellett received a phone call from an old friend wanting to share his condolences. The caller was Nate Pleasentbey, Presidio of Monterey Survivor Outreach Services Support Coordinator, who had just learned of Veronica’s passing.
The two had met years earlier when Pleasentbey was involved with Operation Care and Comfort
“A tremendous organization.” said Mellett. “They would have NFL tickets, and baseball tickets for us, as well as care packages for us while we were in Iraq in 2006/2007. Nate would hand deliver the tickets to our detachment.”
After speaking with his friend, Pleasentbey began thinking of any program for veterans that could help provide the Mellett’s with financial support. Veronica was not a uniformed service member and reserve retirees like Mellett are not entitled to receive their earned military pensions until they’ve reached age 60.
Pleasentbey said, “Things changed dramatically when I made mention of the Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) policy.“
Mellett went through his service paperwork and discovered that he was covered by FEGLI. FSGLI was introduced, along with TSGLI, in 2005, as a rider-policy, to the preexisting Servicemembers Group Life insurance (SGLI). It provides a term life insurance benefit of up to $100,000 for a member's spouse and $10,000 for dependent children.
“He asked me the $100,000 question.” said Mellett. “I almost fell off my chair.”
Pleasentbey began working with the survivor to submit a claim. He travelled to meet with Mellett in person and the two went over all of the required paperwork. Almost finished, they discovered that one document needed correction. Pleasantbey drove home immediately and corrected the document on his personal photocopying machine.
Speaking to Pleasentbey’s dedication to help, Mellett said, “He was truly outstanding throughout the whole process. This was such a selfless act.”
Following the submission of the claim the Mellett family received his $100,000 in benefits.
“I never would have received this money except for Nate.” Said Mellett.
In thanks, Mellett penned a handwritten letter to the command of the Presidio of Monterey, commending Pleasentbey for his efforts, including sacrificing hours of his personal time to get the paperwork completed and submitted.
Mellett’s letter closed by saying that Pleasentbey, “has been a friend for a number of years, even though we had not talked for a long time. Nate is an incredible asset.”