It probably shouldn’t take an act of Congress to get the U.S. Government to stop illegally taking money from wounded soldiers, but apparently it’s going to.
A couple of U.S. senators yesterday introduced The Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016 to force the Department of Defense to stop withholding money from severance pay to soldiers who are discharged from the military after they are wounded, and are no longer able to be soldiers, Stars and Stripes reported.
Those severance payments are, by law, supposed to be tax free, but the government has been withholding the money anyway. It’s been doing so since 1991.
“I was discharged from the Army due to combat-related injuries in 2005, a year after I was engaged in several enemy attacks during a deployment to Iraq,” Brandon Davis of Greenwood, Arkansas said in a press release from the National Veterans Legal Services Program, which uncovered the problem. “While I was going through the medical discharge process, I recall hearing that there was a computer problem related to disability severance payments, but no one ever explained what I needed to do to recover the money that was taken from me,” Davis said. “The government took eight thousand dollars from me without explaining that I could have recovered all of this money. This money would have helped me and my family as we adjusted to life after being discharged from the military. Because eleven years have passed since the money was taken, now I have no way to get it back unless this legislation is passed.”
About 13,000 wounded soldiers have lost money under the practice.
“Most troubling is that we learned the government had known about this problem for decades yet continued to take this money from thousands of disabled veterans,” Tom Moore, an attorney and manager of the Lawyers Serving Warriors Project at National Veterans Legal Services Program, said. “The sad truth is that the government essentially stole $78 million from disabled combat veterans because of an accounting problem it’s known about for years.”
A spokesman for the Department of Defense refused to comment on the legislation.