Allow me to paint a picture for you. It is a illustration of what can happen to a combat disabled veteran during the divorce process. It is the story of how and why veterans are losing their earned benefits in courtrooms across this country every day. Some of the names used in this article are fictional; however, the facts are very real.
Mrs. Linda Jane Dupree was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army; she was also a co-pilot of a UH-60 Black Hawk deployed in Iraq in 2003. During a routine patrol the helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) fired by Iraqi insurgents. The explosion took both of her legs off below the knees, and almost completely destroyed her right arm. Trauma to her pelvis had rendered Linda Jane unable to conceive a child. After 13 months undergoing numerous surgeries and rehabilitation, Dupree was discharged from the Army. Linda Jane Dupree received a Purple Heart and several other combat decorations for her service. She was also awarded total and permanent disability by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
When Linda Dupree returned home, it was to a Hero’s welcome. Everyone in her hometown turned out to greet her. She was the ‘woman of the hour’ and all of her neighbors pledged their support and appreciation for her and her service to our country.
At first, Mr. Dupree appeared to be the perfect husband, caring for his wife’s every need. However, over time, the love they once shared was lost and Mr. Dupree filed for a divorce. In court Mr. Dupree explained how his wife was no longer the woman he had once loved and he saw no future for the marriage. Mr. Dupree told the court how he desperately wanted children, and how that was now impossible. He also stated that he could no longer cope with his wife’s disabilities and he wanted out of the marriage.
The Dupree’s had no real assets and Mr. Dupree was unemployed. Mr. Dupree’s attorney argued that since Mrs. Dupree received a monthly disability check from the Department of Veterans Affairs, that Mr. Dupree was entitled to half of that money as it is considered ‘income’ by the court. The judge agreed and awarded Mr. Dupree half of Mrs. Dupree’s veteran’s disability compensation as spousal support. Mrs. Dupree’s attorney advised his client that there was nothing he could do, and she was bound by the court order to pay Mr. Dupree half of her veteran’s disability compensation every month, or face contempt of court charges and jail. Mrs. Dupree told her attorney her veteran’s benefits were protected by federal law from attachment. Her attorney told her that federal law does not apply in state divorce court. Mrs. Dupree’s attorney then advised her that she owed him $10,000 in legal fees, and if she wished to file an appeal that she would have to hire another attorney. Mrs. Linda Dupree left the courtroom devastated and demoralized. The funds she was counting on to survive and start her life over with were now not even enough to maintain a modest lifestyle.
Depressed and humiliated, Mrs. Linda Dupree returned to the home she and her husband once shared. She went to the bedroom and sat on the bed crying. She removed her two prosthetic legs and with the handgun her husband kept in the nightstand beside the bed, she shot herself through the temple and was killed instantly. In a brief suicide note she left on the dresser, Linda Jane explained the emotional pain and dishonor she felt over having her veteran’s disability benefits stripped from her and given to her husband who never served a day in the military. She went on to write how belittled and hopeless she felt and how much emotional pain she was enduring because of the judge’s ruling. Pined to the note was Linda Jane’s Purple Heart medal.
Linda Jane Dupree successfully kept her combat veteran’s disability compensation out of the hands of her ex-husband, but it cost Linda her life to do so. Major Linda Jane Dupree was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Linda Jane Dupree was 37 years old.
Now, I’m the first person to admit that Linda Jane Dupree’s fictional story is an extreme case. However, similar scenarios unfold in divorce courtrooms nationwide every day. Not all lead to suicide, but a significant number do. Others wind up with the veteran homeless and hopeless. The current suicide rate among military veterans far surpasses the national average, and many of these deaths can be traced back to a failed marriage.
Operation Firing For Effect is currently monitoring 130 cases nationwide of disabled veterans (men and women) who have had their disability benefits used as a divisible asset in a divorce, and awarded to their ex-spouse. To date, 9 of these veterans have been jailed for refusing to give up their veteran’s disability benefits. Many of the veterans on our list willingly admit to considering suicide as an option. The author of this article is one of these veterans…
Operation Firing For Effect and Veterans For Veteran Connection Inc. National Chairman Gene D. Simes is demanding Congress address and correct this abuse of veteran’s benefits by state courts immediately, or resign. Congress is well aware of this problem and they have failed to take action. It is a crying shame that anyone would allow something like this to happen to our combat veterans. Our military personnel fight to protect our best interest, then when they return home they have to fight the VA to get healthcare and disability compensation, then some lowlife civil court judge allows a third party to steal those benefits from them. Enough is enough…
I invite you to view the real story of Vietnam combat disabled veteran Calvin Murphy
I also invite you to visit WWW.AREA5301.NET
OFFE National Public Relations Director
Although Jere Beery only served 4 years in the U.S. Navy, he has an impressive military history. Twenty-seven months of that service was in the combat waters of Vietnam. His first duty station in 1965 was aboard the USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY, (LST-1167) as a Seaman. The WESTCHESTER COUNTY was involved in many operations within the combat waters of South Vietnam and received many awards and accolades for her service. The WESTCHESTER COUNTY was the recipient of 15 Battle Stars for her 19 years of service. LST-1167 was one of only 3 ships of her type to earn 15 Battle Stars (out of over 1200 LSTs built since before WWII).
Beery’s second duty station in 1967 was with the legendary PBRs of the Brown Water Navy. As a volunteer, Beery saw combat on a fairly routine basis with this elite group and their high-speed patrol craft. On March 1, 1968, Beery’s patrol was ambushed by a sizeable force of NVA and Viet Cong. The boat Beery was aboard took two direct RPG hits to her starboard side badly wounding four members of the boat’s crew. Seaman Beery was the most severely wounded and not expected to live. The first RPG had exploded right where Beery was standing as he manned his 50 caliber machine gun. To this day, Beery contributes his survival to the life-saving actions of his patrol officer, LT. RICHARD GODBEHERE and his other crew members. Beery spent the next year and a half hospitalized and recovering from his wounds. THE GODBEHERE PATROL
On November 1, 1968, while Jere Beery was recuperating at NAS Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida, USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY was attacked on the My Tho river. At 03:22 in the morning two very large mines were detonated on the ship’s starboard side. 25 men were killed, 17 were the ship’s crew. Several of the men killed that morning were friends and former shipmates of Beery’s. This incident has gone down in history as the greatest loss of life by the U.S. Navy in a single attack during the entire Vietnam War. USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY
In mid-1969, Jere Beery was medically retired from the Navy. His service record reflects 1 Bronze Star, 3 Purple Hearts, and 5 military campaigns in Vietnam. Beery was also rated totally and permanently disabled by the Veterans Administration.
Over the years since Vietnam, Jere Beery has attempted to do some things many thought impossible for someone with physical injuries such as his. During the early 80s, Jere Beery, as a member of the Screen Actors Guild pursued a brief career in the motion picture business as an actor. Beery landed a few small parts in a number of movies and television programs. On several occasions, to the amazement of many, Beery even executed his own stunts.
In 1986, Jere Beery gave up his career in the movies to crusade for his fellow veterans. Since that time, veteran’s rights advocate Jere Beery has been a noted driving force in the Veteran’s Rights Movement and effort to improve services for our veterans. Beery’s efforts have been extremely well documented and many articles have been written about his quest. A few of these articles can be found on this page. You can also type the words “Jere Beery” into any search engine to find out more about Beery’s efforts. www.google.com
Jere Beery’s multifaceted story is truly an amazing one. From his survival in Vietnam to risking additional injury executing stunts in the motion pictures, to fighting to protect the benefits earned by our troops, Jere Beery has forged his own trail and continues to amaze and baffle many.
– Place and Date of Birth: Orlando, Fl – 03/13/48
– Raised: St. Augustine, Fl
– Place & Date Enlistment: Jacksonville, Fl – 05/20/65
– Branch of Service: U.S. Navy
– Highest Rate/Rank: E4/PO3/Signalman Third Class
– Duty Stations: USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY, LST-1167 and TF116, River Patrol Force, River Section – 511, (PBRs), Binh Thuy, RSVN
– Date of Discharge: 5/14/69
– Type of Discharge: Honorable, Medically Retired
– VA Rating: 100% Totally and Permanently Disabled
Military Awards and Medals:
– 1 Bronze Star – w/combat “V” Citation
– 3 Purple Hearts – (1/5/68, 2/14/68, 3/1/68)
– Vietnam Service Medal – w/1 Silver Star – (5 military campaigns in-country, RSVN)
– Republic Of Vietnam Campaign Medal – w/1960 device
– Combat Action Ribbon
– Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon
– Presidential Unit Commendation Ribbon
– National Defense Medal
– Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation – Gallantry Cross Medal Color, w/Palm
– Republic Of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation – Civil Actions Medal, First Class Color, w/Palm
– River Patrol Craft Training, (PBR), Mare Island, CA
– Special Weapons Training, Mare Island, CA
– J.E.S.T. (Jungle Environmental Survivor Training) – Cubi Point, Philippines
– S.E.R.E. (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape Training) – Whidbey Island, Washington State
– Vietnamese Language – Mare Island, CA.