I would like to introduce you to Joseph Teson. Mr. Teson is 89 years old and a World War II veteran. He survived the amphibious landings on D-Day in Normandy and he fought for four years in Europe, pushing back Hitler’s forces. The man is a relic of what it used to mean to be an American.
In recognition of his service, the Department of Veterans Affairs usually sends him $300 per month to live on. That is essentially a huge chunk of his income and he relies on it to make ends meet.
That isn’t enough to repay him for his sacrifice for this country. Considering how the VA ran a surplus over the past five years, you would hope they would pay more to this aging WWII veteran. But $300 per month has been what sustains Mr. Teson.
That is, until the VA decided to cut off his funds all together. Actually, I misspoke. Instead of receiving $300 every month, the VA only sends Joseph Teson a measly $6 now.
The reasoning? Over a long period of time, the VA had accidentally overpaid Mr. Teson. Some clerical error led the VA to send out a little more than they should have every month. An accountant figured it out and realized that Joseph Teson, WWII Veteran and D-Day survivor, had been overpaid to the tune of $3,090. Now, the VA is withholding almost all of his benefits to recoup the losses from the government’s mistake, forcing this WWII veteran to live on just $6 a month! This is an outrage!
It would be one thing if the government accidentally paid Mr. Teson $3k in one lump sum. But they didn’t. We are talking about micro-overpayments over a long period of time. These went undetected by both Mr. Teson and the government, until the accountants started actually looking over the numbers.
“Since you are currently receiving VA benefits, we plan to withhold those benefits until the amount you were overpaid is recouped,” says the letter sent from the VA.
Here’s the true crime: That letter was sent to Joseph Teson LAST YEAR. It is dated June 9, 2013. That means for a full year, the Department of Veterans Affairs left a WWII Veteran to live on just $6 per month! Sure, he has other income streams like Social Security, but he earned these VA payments. He fought his way from the beaches of Normandy all the way through Europe in service of this great nation. A $300 per month payment seems hardly enough…
But, in the last year, Mr. Teson has only received $72 from the Federal government for his service. All to recoup the money lost because of the government’s mistake!
It is only now that Mr. Teson’s story is coming out. It took a whole year for us to learn about this because Joseph Teson is a proud man who just wanted to accept the “payment restructuring.” He was content with just accepting it.
I am not!
This man fought for this country. He contributed to literally sending Nazism to the ash heap of history. I don’t care if the government accidentally over paid him. No amount of money will ever be enough to compensate him for his service. And that’s not just true for him. The same applies to all of our veterans. Whether they served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or in one of the more recent Middle East conflicts, they deserve more than this country will ever be able to give them.
Few people know this, but the Department of Veterans Affairs actually has a motto. During his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln delivered his prescription for guiding the nation through a post-war recovery. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
That is where the VA’s motto comes from (above, in bold). But over the past few weeks, we’ve discovered that the VA hasn’t been meeting the lofty goal set by Abraham Lincoln so many years ago. Corruption within the system led veterans to literally die while waiting months to see a doctor, dozens of deceased veterans were left to rot in a county morgue, and now the VA is punishing veterans like Joseph Teson for its own clerical errors.
Apparently, the VA’s motto was too complicated for these bureaucrats to understand. Here’s a simpler one: “They made it out of war alive… Don’t screw that up!”
It really shouldn’t be that hard. We can call it a layman’s version of the Hippocratic Oath. At the very least, do no harm to our veterans.
What makes Joseph Teson’s story so incredibly aggravating is the fact that over the past 5 years, while the Department of Veterans Affairs was turning its back on our vets, the VA actually was running a surplus. How much of a surplus? Hundreds of millions of dollars! Meanwhile, the Department is literally nickel-and-diming our veterans to death!
For the past year, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been withholding Joseph Teson’s veteran’s benefits. Simultaneously, the Department ran a $543 MILLION surplus last year! The VA didn’t cut Mr. Teson’s benefits because it had to… the Department cut the benefits because it COULD! That is just wrong, but the sad thing is that this is happening all across the country!
Every day, we learn about another way that the Department of Veterans Affairs is absolutely screwing over our veterans. Joseph Teson kept this whole thing a secret because he was too proud to complain. With what we know, however, this practice of placing a lien on veterans’ benefits is completely unacceptable and must be stopped!
Your Brother in Arms,