I have a very simple-to-solve problem.
After being together for 19 years, I finally got to marry my life partner. I am a 100% service-connected disabled veteran, and my spouse is eligible for federal benefits.
We went to Hunter Army Airfield, showed the lady our marriage certificate, and Keri was quickly issued her military ID. It took no time at all. Then, we went to the PX, just so that Keri could use her card to buy something. I have no idea what she even bought, but it was a huge moment. HUGE.
You see, I served in the Air Force before DADT (Fire control radar on F-15′s and as a Military Training Instructor). There is very little written about those days, and I left the Air Force in 1985. I cried when President Clinton created DADT. We thought at the time that it meant they couldn’t do witch hunts anymore. I was already out of the service when that happened in 1993, but tears fell down my cheeks. I was happy, and I was sad. So many people had been hurt and drummed out of all branches of the service, having been investigated and interrogated by their own. Some took their own lives.
So to us, reaching the point where Keri could actually get a military ID was such a big deal.
I then placed my application for change in marital status with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). What I need most urgently is to get Keri enrolled into CHAMPVA, which provides health care to the spouses of disabled veterans. She has no medical coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, Keri would be eligible under the expanded medicare option. Only, it’s not an option in Georgia.
Which brings me to my problem. While the US military recognized Keri as my spouse, the VA does not.
I’ve checked my e-benefits application status every day. The US Army can recognize my wife in seconds (and we know how fast the Army is at doing something). It’s been 9 months so far for the VA. There hasn’t been a denial. There’s been nothing. Nothing. Under my claim, it states “Received and past due”.
So, it comes down to this. The VA hasn’t recognized our marriage apparently because of where we live, even though I’m not asking for state benefits. How can one federal branch say “yes”, and another, closely related entity, just do nothing? The VA hasn’t said “no”, they just remain silent.
I live in a very “red” state. If I lived one state north, in Tennessee, I would have probably already been verified ,and we’d have Keri in CHAMPVA.
The solution to my problem? Verify my marriage and approve my claim.
Since Keri has been with me, she’s managed my mental health issues. I’ve had a hemorrhagic stroke and have had 2 hip replacements, all of which she nursed and forced me to overcome. Ok, not the mental health part, but she keeps me in check. She deserves this recognition. She needs and deserves her own healthcare.