Missing money for veteran's widow

July 10, 2008 10:06:31 PM PDT
Melba Inman has been fighting the government for nearly a year.

Her husband served our country and died from a service-related injury. But she still couldn't get the thousands of dollars the Department of Defense owed her, so she turned to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.

Melba still is so proud of her husband, Henry. She tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "He was a good soldier, he was a good man. He served 20 years in the Army and six years, five months and nine days in the National Guard."

He served in war zones like Korea and Vietnam. Henry was injured in Vietnam and retired in 1974. That's when he took out a survivor benefit plan, known as SBP.

She says, "It's something they take out in order to give the spouse a little extra income when they pass away." The army took money out of every retirement and disability check from 1974 to 2007.

Henry died last August from what the army calls "service-related lung cancer".

Melba calls it exposure to Agent Orange. Regardless, after more than 30 years of paying into SBP, Melba thought she'd have no problem getting the benefit money.

She tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "They told me I would get this back in a lump sum and I should get it within 30 days." But after 30 days and no check, Melba contacted the Department of Defense again. She adds, "They told me the computer was down and I waited and called back and they told me the computer was still down."

This went on for several months and Melba went without the money Henry had sacrificed so much for her to have. She adds, "This is something they owe me and they will not pay and I don't think it's right. It's not fair; he went out there and protected us and everybody in this country."

Even more upsetting, Melba says Henry worried this would happen.

She adds, "He told me a long time ago I don't think you'll ever get it, and I said I probably won't, but I will try." And Melba did try. She says one call to the DOD left her daughter on hold for more than two hours.

Then Melba made another call to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson. Melba tells her, "I got fed up and frustrated and that's when I called you."

Within 24 hours of Troubleshooter Diane Wilson's call to the Department of Defense, she got good news.

The Department of Defense confirmed Melba would be getting her money which is more than $16,000 within a week.

When Troubleshooter Diane Wilson told Melba she said, "I can't believe you got this, when I tried for 10 months. I can put a closure to it." Closure she thinks would make Henry proud. She adds, "He'll say momma you did it and I'll say yes with the help of Diane, I did."

A rep with the Department of Defense told Troubleshooter Diane Wilson that when she contacted them about Melba's SBP payments, processing them was already in the works.

As for the delay, she added the annuity department is working thru a backlog of cases, and the backlog of cases greater than 30 days is scheduled to be complete by July.


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