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