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War Veteran must share disablility with ex-wife
Money For Nothing, Checks For Free
by Anne Stanton
A Manistee County judge ruled recently that a portion of a Vietnam veteran’s disability benefits can be considered when determining the amount of alimony paid to an ex-spouse.
Veteran Calvin Murphy had argued in court that his disability benefits should be off limits to his ex-wife, but 19th Circuit Judge James Batzer disagreed.
Murphy, 61, testified in the trial that he served a harrowing 5 1/2 months in Vietnam and mistakenly believed for decades that he had killed a fellow soldier during a North Vietnamese attack. He was wracked by guilt that his entire squadron had been ambushed, shot in the head, and found with cards in their mouths that said “Yankee go home.” He was not with his squadron at the time of the ambush.
Murphy said he was torn up emotionally from the experience—during his 24-year marriage to Karen Murphy, he sometimes slept with a gun, was tormented by nightmares, and used drugs and alcohol. In the early 1990s, he stopped drinking and sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder...
Calvin’s attorney, Wendy Divozzo of Cadillac, argued that federal law says that a veteran’s benefits belong solely to the person disabled, and should never be diverted to a third party under any circumstances.
Karen Murphy’s attorney, Connie Krusniak of Ludington, said that other state and federal laws across the country say that disability pay is for the benefit of the veteran and the family, and that those laws are backed by rulings in previous cases. Judge Batzer agreed with her interpretation.
Krusniak argued that an ex-spouse of a military veteran deserves something after supporting her spouse through years of emotional upheaval arising from the disability of post traumatic stress disorder, which is expressed in nightmares, depression, drug and alcohol abuse. A spouse also deserves something for supporting the partner through doctor appointments, rehab and physical handicaps.
Judge Batzer based his judgment, in part, on family law and the income of Calvin and Karen, and the amount of money each needed to survive.
Calvin Murphy, who is unemployed, collects a total of $3886 each month, including $2,400 for military disability, $1,186 in Social Security disability, and $300 in disability income through the National Park Service where he used to work, according to court records. That amount will go down significantly after the divorce.
Karen Murphy, who is also unemployed, collects about $700 per month in disability.
Judge Batzer awarded Karen $800 a month indefinitely until her death or until she remarries. That judgment leaves Calvin $3,195 a month on which to live.
Judge Batzer was clear in his ruling that military disability benefits should be used as a basis for alimony, or what’s now called spousal support.
Part of the problem, attorney Divozzo said, is that state and federal law are contradictory and unclear, and that rulings have varied around the country.
“I am telling Calvin and the other vets that if they want to help the young veterans coming back from Iraq or Afgahnistan, to tell them not to get married unless they have a prenuptial that specifically excludes future VA benefits or service connected benefits. That’s their best shot at having some certainty absent a change in law or a clear ruling that a spouse may not claim those,” Divozzo said.
Krusniak declined comment on the ruling.
Calvin, who has already spent jail time for refusing to pay spousal benefits awarded in the first go-round of the case two years ago, said he will appeal the decision. He has has vowed to give up all his disability benefits if he loses on appeal and “take the homeless life.”
If he is ordered to jail, he said that he’ll request service in the Middle East.
“This whole matter has destroyed my life. I have my home up for sale, and the stress is starting to take its toll on me, but I will keep fighting. I want to go as far as I can and try my best to turn this law around where it is the same everywhere for all vets around the country,” he said.
“When a soldier hangs up his or her uniform, things change. You are treated like an old pair of shoes.”
Okay, this may come as a shock to some people, but if you know me probably not so much, lol. I can see both sides of this issue.
On one side, I ask myself why doesn't this woman work? It does not say what her disability is. I think she needs to get a job if at all possible and make her own living. Has she always collected money without working? Why is she divorcing him now after all of the help with drugs, alcohol, and PTSD? Did she find someone new? Do they have kids and where are they in all of this? If she is just some bum mooching off her husband, then please feel free to ship HER ass to Iraq instead of his. She needs a reality check. And she should pay him back, with interest, if his is the case!
Having said that, living with someone with PTSD is no picnic, far from it. IF someone has it and refuses to get help for years through ignorance or stubborness, he or she is subjecting their family to hell and probably putting them in situations where they will themselves end up with PTSD, their own war if you will. Vets have known about PTSD since the 80's from Vietnam, and to NOT know that it was possible is to have not ever watched television, or a RAMBO movie, or a plethura of other movies. OR seen a book on Vietnam, or read about Audie Murphy, etc., etc.. Basically, you would have to be a hermit on a deserted island.
When a Vet dies, his family inherits his disability. So there is some truth to families getting disability in past cases. In this case, she was married to him for MANY years. Endured not only PTSD, but drugs and alcohol which only make it worse. It did not say whether they had kids.
Surely, there is some way to figure out if she is conning him out of money or if she truly deserves it. If she remarries, she SHOULD not get it anymore. That is at least for certain.
But I am afraid I do not know enough about this case one way or another to say I agree with this ruling or not. I will say that this vet doesn't seem very rational, based upon his comments after the fact. That he will sign up for the Middle East or become homeless intentionally??!!. What will that solve other than to torture himself more. If he is that vendictive or self loathing, maybe there is some wisdom to this judge's ruling.
Whatever the case may be, I hope they both find some peace and stability for themselves, and do NOT rush into another relationship to fill any void they have. Marriage does not solve anything, and should not be used as a crutch. And not every vet needs to rush out and cut their spouses out of their disability benefits. An impulsive act may come back to hurt many in the future, some innocent spouses and kids can get left out.
Another fly in the butter milk and it is shoking to me. My award letter stated very clearly to me that iI was awarded disability compensation and was not subject to laws that would award earned income to a former spouse. And I was under theimpression that the same ruling applied to the CRSC (combat related special compensation) as reular retired pay in some states was considered to be earned income CRSC is disabilty compensation. Also surviving spouse's of deceased veterans do not get the veterans disabilty compensation. they get DIC Dependent indemity compensation. In my case my family would have a chose of DIC or SBP that my stupid ass signed up for when I retired ( Tell everyone to stay away from SBP ) Surviors can not reeive bot DIC and SBP The SBP can be taken in a lump sum and then the DIC can bedrawn. But being that wife is over 70 she will not get near as much as we put in to it.. as far as entitlment is concerned . I feel that a good wife deserves to be taken care of and shoul share the wealth of her spouse, but if she was a lousy cooking ,lousy looking lazy, naggin, dirty not raising the kids prpoerly. playin around. then she should get nothing and that should determin the judge's decision.
"Judge Batzer awarded Karen $800 a month"...
What Calvin is trying to say is hands off my Veterans Disability Pay?????????? Sooooooo, just pay out of your SSDI, simple to me.
Married to this woman for "24 years", the Judge says pay $800 per month support. Just pay the $800 Calvin and consider yourself lucky.
BTW- The story only mentions PTSD Compensation but states he was in RVN for only 5 1/2 Months?,,why?. I would like to know if he suffered any physical wounds that would cut his tour short. Or is he receiving 100% on PTSD only?.
Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am the last person that will ever question a Combat Veterans Claim or Compensation. But the above story raises a few Red Flags with me. One of them is that "Yankee Go Home" thing. I have read many, many claims of some of the most horrendous things you can imagine,,,But that's a first.
Also let me add this, Calvin just put his story out there, I'm sure that someone at the VA will read it. Remember even if your 100% P&T your never safe from the VA pulling your records and reviewing them, the 20 year rule doesn't even keep them from doing it.
Good Luck Calvin.......
I agree Jinx for a period of 24 years somethings must have been bright and happy. and considering his peoblems with drugs, alchohol it seems to me that she stood by him through thick and thin. We do not know who filed for divorce. was it her, that finally got fed up with his crap or him for her doing something unfair. But at any rate as you said $800.00 for her would leave very well finaced for a single man. But i think he will probaly have other problems. I do not know if his rating is listed as total and permanet, but if it is it is unlikely that his rating willchange but his dependents staus will change until he marries again. But who or what would want to marry him after a divorce of a marriage that lasted for 24 years.I am anxious to read the reply's to this post. maybe it's cheaper to keep her. but if she is a good woman I hope she get's a good man.
No matter how you cut it I think there's a real recipe for disaster here. Take one guy that is as angry as Calvin and the wife who's probably just as angry, then add a couple Divorce lawyers to stir the pot, Cook for a year or so and your bound to have this outcome.
I think Calvin really needs to get a grip, Chill out, all his solutions to this Divorce that he has are all "Self Destructive"! Not good! He needs to take a trip down to the Local PTSD Clinic and check himself in to get his head straight.
As a former member of the "Bad Boys Club" myself, I guarantee $3195 a month is a heck of a lot easier to take than multi 30 and 60 day sentences in the County Jail!
Unless it's a misprint, the reference to "squadron" would suggest that Calvin was Air Force. The reference to "ambush" as opposed to "attack" would indicate field duty. I don't think the flyboys did much field duty.
I think he is referring to an Army Cavalry Squadron.
Grant would know because hes an old 1/10th Buffalo Soldier I think. Please Correct me if im wrong Grant.
Yes Jinks. A cavalry Squadron is the same as a Battalin in other units however in the armored cavalry regiments suchas the 2nd,3rd, 11th and 14th ArmoredCavalry regiments they are battalions and still use the old trianular system for companies in the battalion such as the 1st Bn has ABCD companies the 2nd Bn has efgh Companies and the 3rd Bn has IKLM companies the first thre companies are recon and the fourt companies are tank companies. The 4th ID now has four 10th cavalry recon squadrons the 1st, 4th, 7th and 8th. I was trained old armored infantry, I carried three mos's 11 d Primay an 11B ans secondary and 11 E as an additional. I served with ACR cav squadrons infantry and tank unit I had all of the good stff. but after getting injured I was reclassified as a sub sistane spec and was given a meat warehouse in seoul. All of my old line dog battle buddies found out that Big Jack had a meat warehouse in seoul and every body had platoon parties and big jack almost went to jail. so I retired. ounce a line dog always a line dog and a good line dog cannot sa no to a battle buddy.. Just wantedto share that with you line dogs i think you know what I mean.
I agree with you guys. There are some gaping holes in this story.
"Murphy, 61, testified in the trial that he served a harrowing 5 1/2 months in Vietnam and mistakenly believed for decades that he had killed a fellow soldier during a North Vietnamese attack. He was wracked by guilt that his entire squadron had been ambushed, shot in the head, and found with cards in their mouths that said “Yankee go home.” He was not with his squadron at the time of the ambush."
It does not say he killed a fellow soldier; it says he "mistakingly believed" so. Why did he think this? Why did it take so long to learn the truth?
He was not in the ambush where he describes his squadron "shot in the head" etc. Why did he think this happened? Did it happen? I agree with John. The card thing sounds highly bogus. I also never heard of Charlie doing this. U.S. troops would sometimes leave an "ace-of-spades" behind. It was supposed to be a death card.
I have a nagging hunch that Mr. Murphy may not be all he claims. I would like to hear what guys who served with him would have to say.
PS: I was always taught, in therapy, that PTSD does not exempt you from your personal responsibilities. Even if everything Murphy says is true, he still had/has a responsibility to his spouse.
I stand corrected. Thanks guys.
It is also possible that "squadron" was an error by a civillian reporter without military experience. She might not know the difference between "squadron" and "squad." I can't picture a squadron of cavalry getting "shot in the head."