Vietnam veteran and cancer sufferer asked to repay pension

A Vietnam veteran is being asked to repay some US$6,324 to the Department of Veterans Affairs that was paid to him in pension benefits.

Rob Arthur, now 68, joined the US Navy in 1964 at the age of 17. He served on a US destroyer off the coast of Vietnam during the war. A few years after he returned from the conflict, he began collecting the pension when he found he could not survive without the payments.

Sadly, in January 2013 Rob was diagnosed with brain cancer. Due to the illness, he decided to get married to his long-term girlfriend at his bedside in hospital and make the most of the time he had left.

It was around six months after they were married that the Department of Veterans Affairs sent Rob a notice to say that he owed them six months of back payments for the pension he had been receiving. It stated that since Rob’s now wife was a nurse’s assistant and in full time employment earning $22,000 annually, he no longer qualified for the pension payments.

Rob says he simply can’t afford to foot the bill for six months of pension repayments. He lives with his wife Debbie Schafer in a trailer near the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. He says they simply do not have the money for the repayment, the Opposing Views reports.

The couple have made a first payment of $5 to ensure that they have started to show willing to pay back the money, however they remain concerned that they’re going to have to pay the entire amount back, which Rob says they just don’t have the money to do.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs is the government office that manages the US military veteran benefit system. The Department offers soldiers returning from war with medical facilities, clinical support, advisory and benefits for them and their families, as well as survivors.

The movement for veterans’ support was formalized in 1776 when the American Revolutionary War sought to enlist high numbers of soldiers. To encourage them to enlist, pensions were promised to those soldiers who were injured or wounded to the point of being unable to work or support themselves.

At the time medical support was provided at the state level, however in 1834 the first federal medical facility was opened and federal support was provided to veterans directly.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE