VA claims living veteran is dead, sends burial check, cuts benefits

Imagine opening the mail to find a letter from Veterans Affairs with the first sentence sending sympathies for your death.

That’s exactly what happened to one veteran in the Wilmington area who says his life has been turned upside down because of it.

Just last week, Robert Pressley’s family received letters from both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense claiming he was dead, plus two checks to help fund his burial.

To prove that I am alive is just insane and it scares me to death,” Pressley said. “That at a touch of a button or because of someone’s clerical error my whole life can be taken away from me and it is.”

We reached out to each agency involved. So far, there is no clear explanation to what happened, but a mistake somewhere has now canceled Pressley’s disability payment, VA healthcare and other medical insurance.

“I mean what do I do?” Pressley questioned. “I am not getting any answers, I am not getting any help, I am scared.”

This disabled veteran is not alone. Being mistakenly declared dead by the VA has happened to others.

Gentleman have to wait one, two, three years to get their benefits back,” he said. “I don’t have that time span.”

Robert said with a small family counting on him, he can’t afford to give up those benefits. But, he added, it’s hard to figure out a plan of attack when you don’t even know where to start.

Pressley said he also wants to know why the money and the notice were sent to his ex-wife. Pressley said he has notified the VA twice of his divorce and has since remarried.

We called the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, Congressman David Rouzer’s office and the Department of Army headquarters in DC, but have not yet found any answers for Robert.


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