Nearly a decade has passed since Gerrod Branum of Fairmont, W.V. served in Iraq, but it wasn’t until this year that Branum found himself penalized by the IRS for a bag of equipment he lost while serving.
The bag was lost in 2005; now, in 2014, the veteran has been notified that the IRS is hitting him with an approximately $1,600 fine.
This ten year lapse contradicts U.S. army regulations, which state that Branum should have been charged within three months of the loss of the equipment.
Instead, as Branum said, “A whole decade went by.”
“Me personally,” he continued, “If that was the case you should have notified me before you put me out of the military.”
Branum joined the army in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. “I even lost friends of mine in those Twin Towers so it kind of hit home for me,” he said.
He served up until 2005, and spent most of his deployment in Iraq.
On his way home from deployment, however, a bag containing his field equipment was lost.
“We went to the company commander and informed him,” Branum says. He also spoke with the commanding officer, who told Branum to file charges of a “field loss.”
“All this paperwork was done and turned in,” he said.
Thus, when the IRS informed him this year that some $1,600 was being withheld from his tax return, the notification seemed not only late, but altogether wrong.
“As a government, you took my money in all aspects for a field loss for my service to my country,” Branum said.
“It is not right. It is wrong and it is immoral,” he continued.
Branum has tried contacting the IRS, but has yet to receive a response. He is currently working on resolving the issue in court.
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For U.S. military service members, coming home from war is supposed to provide a respite from the unimaginable stresses and anxieties of combat. But for Louisiana National Guard Spc. Sherman Crandle, his return home is presenting a whole new set of challenges.
Crandle volunteered last year to deploy to Afghanistan for a year. At the time he volunteered, he’d been working at a Best Buy in Covington, Louisiana for five days. According to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, returning US service members are to be re-employed at the job they would have held if not for their deployment. Apparently Best Buy missed the memo.
“I called Best Buy checking if I still had my job,” said Crandle, “At one point, they told me no. The only way you was gonna get your job back was if we needed you. Throughout the rehiring process it took me about a month and a half to get my job back.”
Even after being rehired, Crandle is finding available shifts scarce. In the last four weeks, he estimates that he’s only worked six days.
“I've got some money saved away for the situation,” he said, “but right now it's like really borderline. I might not be able to make it through this next month."
The Louisiana National Guard has helped him submit his resume to a number of other employers, but he is yet to hear back from any of them. Crandle is understandably frustrated at the employment opportunity he lost by serving his country. He told Louisiana news station WWLTV that he only wants to work hard for his family like he has for his country.