As of April 19, 2013 I was discharged from the Marine Corps under the Voluntary Separation Program (VSP). This program was used for Military Occupational Specialties (MOS's) that had an over population of specific pay grades. The overpopulation was due to the Marine Corps push for 200k+ troops to assist with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. My MOS and pay grade fell into that category, so I volunteered to separate after 11+ years of active service and finally relax and enjoy life with my family. I claimed disability for anxiety disorder, depression, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss, and knee/elbow joint pains. I received a disability evaluation of 50% for my claims. The only catch is that Veterans Affairs will garnish my compensation completely on a monthly basis until my separation payment has been paid back in full. I was unaware of this course of action when I volunteered to separate, and I am sure many other Combat Veterans are also unaware. My separation paperwork did not state that I had to pay back my separation payment if I were to receive disability compensation. Although, it did state that if I were to re-enter the service and receive retirement or retainer pay, my separation payment would then be repaid. In my situation that is not the case at hand.
Myself and many other veterans are/were depending on our disability compensation. I believe we have more than beyond earned it and we should not be forced to pay a separation payment back to receive it. I hear it all the time that veterans with PTSD, panic disorder, and depression need to be better taken care of. We hold scars that no one person can physically see. I would ask myself if these are the people we really want to take from.
Please help myself and many other Combat Veterans receive what we have earned from the battlefield. If anywhere in my separation documents stated that I would have to payback my separation payment if I were to receive disability, I would have stayed in the Marine Corps and retired. It really seems cruel and criminal. As it stands now, the Voluntary Separation Pay appears to be a "loan". Lastly, why does the VA and disability have anything to due with what we were paid for separating? Disability is Disability. Our nations heroes deserve better than this!
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