When the Department of Veterans Affairs sent Dee Fales a letter expressing their condolences on the death of her husband earlier this month, they never expected him to be the one to open the letter.
James Fales, who served 11 years in the military, told Fox News, “At first, it was kind of a shock; then it became humorous, to a point.”
The VA letter, which can be read here, was meant to offer condolences to Dee and included information regarding death benefits and burial expenses to be covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to KFSM-TV.
During the interview, he went on to explain that the error occured in the VA’s computer system. While the benefits system had him listed as deceased, the VA healthcare system had him as alive.
“I had been dead for a month in one computer system in the VA and I was still making doctor’s appointments in the other part of the system,” said James, who is being treated for PTSD and an ankle injury, according to KFSM.
James later called the VA to alert them to the error. “They asked to verify who I was calling about, and I told them ‘By the way, this is me!;”
“And the only response I got on the phone was, ‘Oh boy.’ So now they are processing me to put me back as alive in the VA system.”
Dee expressed her frustration with the VA, “I was surprised when I got the letter, turning into a little bit of anger in the evening because I knew his benefits would be affected.”
The two are optimistic that his benefits will be corrected though.
The Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, who are charged with the care of James, issued an apology to the Fales family, saying, “We do apologize and regret that this error has occurred, and want to reassure our Veterans that we will work diligently to assist them in any way we are able to in order to resolve the issue.”
Despite all this, James has still kept his sense of humor though joking, “Since the government says I’m dead now, can I stop paying taxes?”