The Department of Veterans Affairs has been facing intense criticism from the media and veterans alike their slow wait times and apparently lack of organization and oversight. Now the department is back in the news once more. This time for allegedly overpaying thousands of veterans since 2009. The VA now wants veterans to pay all the extra money back.
Tad Steckler, a veteran and soldier who was awarded a medal for heroism, spoke to Vice News to give his side of what he calls an “injustice.”
The Steckler household received a letter in the mail from the VA that claimed they had overpaid countless veterans and he was ordered to repay the $10,000 that was sent to him in error. The VA informed him that they would be withholding further checks until the balance was clear.
Tad’s wife, Robyn Loveland, opened the letter thinking it was another check and found out the news. She decided to withhold the information from her husband as she feared for his mental health when he learned of the situation.
Robyn and Tad attended a walk-in meeting at the VA to discuss the issue. Her intuition about how her husband would receive the news was correct. Tad, who retired at the age of 40 with the rank of master sergeant, had to leave the room twice as he could not stop shaking. The VA at that meeting told the couple they didn’t know where the bill came from and referred them to the regional benefits office.
When the Stecklers went to the regional benefits office in August, they were told that the debt had been miscalculated. Instead, the amount of their overpayment was double; they actually owed $21,604.32.
After much investigating, the family found that the source of the discrepancy was because his ex-wife’s children were still listed as dependents – even after their divorce.
Tad says he told VA to remove them after the divorce, but it seems the VA never did so. A month later in September, Tad and his wife opted to do a five-year payback system that would allow the VA to take $360 out of his check every month.
“If we owe, then we owe,” said Steckler to Vice News, “We get it. But can you show me what I owe and how? I don’t know any businesses that would get away with something like this.”
Vice News and their investigators discovered that 187,000 veterans received the same letter in the mail. Some veterans have been put into crippling debt as they have no way to pay the VA back.