The Department of Veterans Affairs has reportedly told a veteran of the Vietnam War who is fighting for his life that he owes $6,324 in pension benefits – and that now is the time to pay up.
Rob Arthur, 68, was diagnosed with brain cancer last January and made the decision to marry his long-time girlfriend Debbie Shafer in his hospital room, reports the Seattle Times. About six months after he filed his new marital status, the VA reportedly sent him a notice informing him that because his new wife, who works as a nurse’s aide, makes $22,000 a year, Arthur no longer qualified for his $1,000-a-month pension.
Which is all well and good, Arthur says, but he and his wife do not have the money to repay the department the pension benefits they sent during those six months between his marriage and the date he received the letter, reports Fox News.
“We simply cannot afford to survive should we be held responsible for this,” Arthur said.
Arthur joined the Navy when he was 17 in 1964 and served in Vietnam on an aging destroyer off the country’s coast. He began collecting pension a few years later when he found himself without money. He and Schafer live in a trailer at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State.
“They are mental abusers right now, is the way I look at it,” Shafer said. The couple recently sent its first payment to the VA – a check for five dollars. “And that’s not a kind way to look at your government. We got knocked down, and now they are stomping on us. We don’t have the money to pay them.”