Change the law putting a financial strain on many disabled veterans

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Veterans across the country are not getting the help they need. The very system they fought to protect is using an outdated law to deny earned benefits to disabled veterans. I am one of those veterans, and I’ve started this petition to make sure that what is happening to me and many others is stopped.

Over the last couple years, the military has downsized. When it does this, it offers separation packages, aka money to help those who are leaving transition to their new civilian life. I received one of these packages, and was told to go to the VA hospital if I needed future medical care. I did, and was diagnosed as 70% disabled. But they told me I couldn’t receive disability benefits until I repaid my separation package.

After 11 years of service in the Marine Corps, two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a disability stemming from duty, I couldn’t believe this was happening. I discovered that this was written into federal law back in the 1990’s, during a time when major combat hadn’t been seen in decades and there weren’t many people being asked to separate from the military due to downsizing, and then later being classified by the VA as having service-related disabilities. The only way to get both benefits is through a waiver by one of the service branch secretaries, which is extremely rare and almost impossible.

It is time to get rid of a law that doesn’t do right by the women and men who have served their country. I’m calling on Congress to repeal the law that requires paying back, or offsetting, severance pay before receiving disability benefits.

Separation pay and VA Disability compensation are two completely different payments, offered to veterans for entirely different purposes. This misguided law is causing financial hardship for many of us, and such financial hardships are known to be a contributing factor in the spike in veteran suicides. It’s tough to admit it, but I was one of those people dealing with this financial difficulty, and there was a moment when suicide seemed like the answer.

I’m glad I didn’t do it. Instead, I’m working to get this law changed. This problem will only get bigger as more of our troops are asked to leave the service. We need as many voices as possible to speak up and get this law taken off the books. I hope you will help by signing this petition.

Recent Marine Corps Times article on the issue: