Veterans Fighting State Courts!
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State Courts Declare Open-Season on Veterans’ Disability Compensation!
Please allow me to take you on a brief journey. Try to imagine yourself as one of the many wounded military personnel (Man, or Woman) currently recovering from their combat injuries at Walter Reed or Brook Army Medical Center. Let’s pretend that you are a survivor of an RPG attack that has left you disfigured and disabled. Let’s say you have spent months in the hospital recuperating and in physical therapy. You have been awarded one of this nation’s highest awards for your service and sacrifice, the Purple Heart Medal. Your doctors tell you that you will be in some pain and on medications for the rest of your life, and that your disfiguring scars will fade a little with time…
Your body has become immune to your pain medications, and you are forced to just ‘deal with it’. Sleep is the only relief you have. When you can finally fall asleep, your body jerks violently waking you back up. Every time you close your eyes it is as if you were reliving/replaying the entire RPG explosion in your dreams over and over again. Your subconscious mind tries to convince yourself that ‘this time’ you will somehow jump out of the way of the rocket and not be hurt. But, when you are startled awake, the pain and discomfort reveals the ugly reality. On one hand you are extremely grateful to be alive, and on the other hand, you question your survival. You don’t yet understand that your wounds are both physical and emotional and that the physical and mental scars from your near-death experience are very deep and will follow you throughout your life until the day you die.
Now, allow me to elaborate even further. Let’s say your injuries qualify you for service-connected disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and you receive a tax-exempt monthly disability check from the VA. And let’s say, in spite of your scars and disabilities, you are fortunate enough to find a mate and marry. Now, imagine your marriage decaying over several years to the point of divorce because your spouse no longer wishes to live with your jumping in your sleep. You are totally disabled and unable to work, and your only source of livelihood is your VA disability check. You provide the divorce court with a sworn financial statement that substantiates that your VA check is your only cash source and you have no other assets. The next thing you know, a civil court judge has awarded half of your VA disability compensation to your able-body non-military ex-spouse in the form of alimony, or spousal support. Your attorney advises you that there is nothing you can do about it, and withdraws from your case. You can’t afford to retain another lawyer, so you are faced with four basic decisions;
(1). Just shut up and pay the court order, or go to jail and then pay the order anyway.
(2). Find a pro-bono attorney to file an Appeal and fight for your earned veteran’s disability compensation.
(3). Leave the state and never return.
(4). Blow your brains out.
Sound far fetched? Not at all, in fact similar scenarios unfold in divorce courts nationwide everyday. Self-serving attorneys and judges have found ways to circumvent federal laws that prohibit third party awards of veteran’s benefits. The VA and our politicians turn a blind eye towards these civil courts as they wrongly interpret veteran’s disability compensation as a divisible marital asset.
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