by Jere Beery
Last weekend I was standing in the checkout line at our local Wal-Mart when I overheard a conversation between the cashier and a customer. The two women obviously knew one another and began talking like they were very good friends. The Cashier asked the customer if they were going to the Jason Aldean concert that upcoming weekend. The customer replied that they had just received “their” child support check and that “they” were going to use that money to purchase the tickets, get their hair done, and pay for a sitter. This conversation got me to thinking, how much of child support payments truely directly benefit the child?
When I got home I went in search of the truth. First I called the local civil court clerk and asked if the court followed up on child support cases to verify that the moneys ordered by the judge actually were spent on the child or children? The answer I got was no, and I was referred to the local DFACS (Department of Family and Children Services) office. I then called DFACS and asked them the same question. Again the answer was no, and I was told that there was no process in place to verify such spending.
Every day in divorce courts across the country custodial parents are awarded child support. Unlike alimony, child support moneys are tax free. Alimony has to be reported when filing taxes and is taxable. However, child support does not have to be reported to anyone and is not traceable. No one can tell you with any accuracy where that money goes.
The simple truth of the matter is; if a custodial parent wishes to spend these funds on cigarettes, liquor, lottery tickets, illicit drugs, or engage in compulsive spending, no one is going to tell them they can’t do that.
Now I’m not suggesting all custodial parents misuse child support payments, but apparently there is absolutely no way of knowing if they do, or do not abuse these moneys. In my heart I would like to believe that child support payments directly benefit the child or children. But, yet again, there is no system in place to verify if it does, or not. Paying child support is a crap shoot at best.
Now I realize that I am criticizing the ‘Holy Grail’ of divorce settlements and child custody cases, and I’m certain I may take some flack over this article. But my motivation for writing this article is the children, and no one should shoot me for that. I believe every parent has an obligation to provide for their child/children. I also believe that money is not the only way to contribute in a positive way to a child’s development. Guidance and advice can be more valuable to a child than the almighty dollar. But, let’s be truthful about what child support really is. The reality is child support is nothing more than tax free alimony disguised as child support, which may, or may not benefit the child directly.
I suggest that there is a much better way to meet a divorced parent’s responsibility to their children. Instead of paying moneys directly to the custodial parent, the court could order a divorced parent to establish a trust fund or savings account in the child’s name. That money would draw interest over the years, and would be available to the child exclusively when they turn 18 years of age. The child could then use those funds for education or to start a business. There is no guarantee that the child wouldn’t use the moneys to buy pot or booze, but at least it would be “their” pot and “their” booze.
Divorce in this country has become way too easy to obtain. Individuals file for a divorce without any real reasons other than they just don’t want to live with their spouse any more. Then, they expect their ex-spouse to pay them alimony and child support after the separation. Alimony and child support only encourages the divorce and makes the process easier to pursue. I would think it would be more in the child’s best interest if their parents found ways and reasons to stay together as a family. After all, marriage is supposed to be a lifetime commitment, right?
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.
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