Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

Home · Articles · News · Region Watch · Vet must share disablility...
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Vet must share disablility with ex-wife

Anne Stanton - June 9th, 2008
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.”


 
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