VA, Verify My Marriage and Approve My Claim

VA, Verify My Marriage and Approve My Claim

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. 

Jessie 3I 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.

Jessie 1


  1. Give Keri her long overdue & definitely earned benefits immediately plz

  2. Wow, woman! Well written and to the point.

    You and your wife deserve the very best our nation has to offer its veterans. My sincere hope is that this untenable situation will change in a positive manner for you and the other families who wait in VA limbo.

    There are many who hurry up and wait for the VA to act. We are in red and in blue states. The VA has placed itself above the laws of the land and outside the reach of states who choose to honor all families. I specially noted your observation about the swiftness of the DoD to include your wife. Your experience mirrors ours here in Washington, the Evergreen (blue) state, where we have marriage rights. The VA sits placid and silent while we must be vigilant and monitor months-old applications for spousal benefits.
    Those applications have time limits on them. They expire. We hope we do not expire before VA acts on them.

  3. I strongly suggest you and your partner contact the national gay and lesbian task force in DC for information on their progress with VA. They might not even be aware of you and your partner’s situation. Worth trying.

  4. Keri & Jessie have given their utmost to the military, both mentally and physically for many years. Now it’s time for the VA to step up and get Keri the healthcare benefit that she & Jessie deserve. This would be an opportunity to start to salvage their reputation after all the problems that we have been reading about lately in the news.

  5. Jessie, first and foremost – thank you for your service to our country. Secondly, thank you Keri for being the support to Jessie’s post-service medical issues. We all know that the military is savvy enough to understand that soldiers do better when there’s a strong family support system in place for them. It’s no different when these soldiers retire from active service. It becomes part of the fabric of our national defense that we (as in our military system) give back to them at least as much as they gave of themselves.

    It sounds like the VA is trying to coast through this with no culpability at all. Jessie, I know you well enough to know you’ll be a bulldog through this process. Keep pushing. You both deserve the peace of mind of this benefit that straight couples enjoy, for no other reason than they are man & woman. Love to you both.

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