America’s War on Disabled Veterans
State Civil Courts Conspire to Defraud American Taxpayers and Our Nation’s Disabled Veterans
by Jere Beery
Do you pay federal income taxes every year? Do you think you know where your tax dollars are going? How would you react if you learned that a portion of your federal tax dollars clearly designated for the NASA Space Program were being diverted to third parties not associated with NASA in any way? Would you be upset and concerned? Of course you would. No one likes to be lied to, and no one likes to be swindled out of their hard earned tax dollars.
Well, NASA appears to be safe for now. However, a 9-year study conducted by Operation Firing For Effect (OFFE), (The Veterans Advocacy Group), has documented hundreds of cases where just such diversions of federal tax dollars are taking place every day in civil courts in states all across the nation.
When you pay your federal taxes every year, the government designates billions of dollars for veterans’ healthcare, vocational rehabilitation, disability compensation and other benefits they earned through their military service. These programs and services are meant exclusively for our veterans and their eligible dependents. Federal laws first enacted shortly after the Revolutionary War are supposed to protect these funds from being used for any purposes other than the care and welfare of our former military personnel. Operation Firing For Effect has documented evidence that in many cases, severely disabled veterans are being ordered to forfeit their awarded disability compensation to able-bodied, ineligible, non-military third parties or go to jail for contempt.
Veterans wounded and disabled, whether in combat or otherwise in the line of duty, receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. In the case of a disabled veteran who has been determined to be 100% totally and permanently disabled, (and is therefore likely unable to work), the veteran has only their disability compensation to survive on. Just like the rest of us, they must live within the confines of a fixed monthly budget. However, unlike many others in our society, the severity of their disabilities usually means they have no way to change their budget with additional income.
This disability compensation is awarded to the veteran tax exempt. It is not considered as “income” by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court. In actions that clearly run contrary to the federal laws and the definitions as prescribed by these federal agencies, state divorce courts frequently insist on considering a veteran’s disability compensation as “income” and the judges then illegally award alimony based solely on the veteran’s disability compensation.
This mindset by civil court judges and family divorce attorneys has caused, and continues to cause, great hardship among some of our nation’s most disabled veterans. Our research has found that this practice by state civil courts has directly led to homelessness and suicide for some of those that have already given so much for this nation; our disabled defenders. Space constraints prevent us from sharing individual stories here, but we have ample supporting documentation available on request.
When a severely disabled veteran is going through a divorce, it often seems that the civil court judge doesn’t care if the veteran has no arms or legs, is in a wheelchair, or even bedridden. The only factor the judge considers is that the veteran receives a monthly check and the spouse does not. Somehow, the “mental leap” is then made to the decision that the spouse is somehow “entitled” to a significant portion of the veteran’s disability compensation. Sadly, in some of the cases we are monitoring the reason given by the spouse in requesting the divorce is because the veteran is disabled and not the same person the spouse married. Then, to add insult to injury, the judge awards alimony based solely on the disability compensation the veteran is receiving for those very same disabilities. Even when the veteran was not married at the time of their military service, civil court judges routinely award alimony based entirely on the veteran’s disability benefits anyway.
These alimony awards are not regulated and the amounts can be any portion of the veteran’s compensation. In many of the cases we are monitoring, the alimony amounts are extreme and often leave the veteran with assets insufficient to even live on.
Every day in divorce courts across the nation a well-orchestrated production by judges, attorneys, and other legal professionals is executed with precision. Their actions suggest that one of their objectives is to “shakedown” our disabled heroes and access the federal monies they receive. Many attorneys even refer to VA disability compensation as “Golden Money”. Many State Bar Associations and DFACS (Department of Family and Children Services) professionals appear to also be directly involved in this conspiracy to defraud our disabled veterans and the American tax payer. This form of mistreatment takes place in courtrooms nationwide every day. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what is happening here. Divorce lawyers and civil court judges have found a “cash cow” in veterans’ disability benefits and they are milking it dry. This practice is a miscarriage of justice of the highest order and we as a nation have an obligation to bring it to a halt.
When severely disabled veterans (male or female) fall on hard times; lose their homes, are facing bankruptcy, are experiencing failing health, are emotionally distraught, and going through a divorce, the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can be overwhelming. When facing such hardships, one thing a disabled veteran should be able to count on is his or her military benefits to start their lives over – benefits which in many cases were earned on the battlefield with blood, sweat, tears and sometimes limbs. It is at these low points in life that the stability provided by a veteran’s disability benefits is so important and when those benefits can help the most, financially and psychologically. To allow anyone the unfettered ability to arbitrarily, callously, and illegally take these benefits from them is cruel and unjust.
United States Code, Title 38, section 5301 is very clear about the protection of a veteran’s disability compensation, and reads as follows;
(a) Payments of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law, and such payments made to, or on account of a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary.
The federal statute also states;
(3) (A) This paragraph is intended to clarify that, in any case where a beneficiary entitled to compensation, pension, or dependency and indemnity compensation enters into an agreement with another person under which agreement such other person acquires for consideration the right to receive such benefit by payment of such compensation, pension, or dependency and indemnity compensation, as the case may be, except as provided in subparagraph (B), and including deposit into a joint account from which such other person may make withdrawals, or otherwise, such agreement shall be deemed to be an assignment and is prohibited.
In other words, it could be a federal crime for a U.S. disabled veteran to enter into a state court divorce settlement agreement in which the veteran’s benefits are to be diverted (paid) to a third party.
Most divorce attorneys and civil court judges claim this federal law doesn’t apply to divorce court, and that by state law they can take part, or even all, of a disabled veteran’s disability compensation if they so wish. This is clearly not what the legislative and executive branches intended when the applicable federal statutes were written and signed into law to help protect veterans’ hard earned benefits.
Now, one might ask; “Why would anyone want to do this to our disabled veterans?” The answer is simple: greed. When the judge awards alimony based solely on a veteran’s disability compensation, the first obligation the ex-spouse has is to pay their attorney. Then, the disabled veteran has to pay their own attorney. Each of the attorneys will collect several thousands of dollars, all of which will come from the veteran’s benefits. The judge will attach court cost to the settlement and the veteran will pay that amount also. In other words, everyone in the court room has a vested interest in the veteran’s disability compensation and they all will get a piece of that disability money. The disabled veteran is now without the funds to even appeal the ruling, (another miscarriage of justice where the veteran is the scapegoat).
To summarize, millions of your federal tax dollars which you thought were being used to care for our disabled veterans are instead being diverted to ineligible, able-bodied third parties in civil courts nationwide, and many of our veterans are suffering greatly because of this injustice.
Operation Firing For Effect is the only veterans’ service organization currently aggressively pursuing a solution to this problem. It is our hope that all national veteran service organizations will join us in this battle in the very near future. We depend on our men and women in uniform to protect and preserve our rights and freedoms. In return, they must be able to depend on us to protect and preserve their rights and benefits. We are asking Congress to do exactly that and take immediate action to enforce the federal protection of veteran’s disability compensation as dictated by federal statute. We are currently in contact with several Congressional Representatives concerning this issue. If you are concerned about the way your tax dollars intended to assist disabled veterans are being mishandled, we urge you to contact your representative immediately.
To learn more about this issue, visit; WWW.AREA5301.NET
Additionally, you may wish to view these videos;
OFFE National Public Relations Director
Short URL: http://www.veteranstoday.com/?p=157652