FROM THE MILITARY SUICIDE REPORT- HISTORY REPEATS: Soldiers Coming Home From Civil War Struggled With Suicide, Divorce, Debt … and Stigma

AMERICA, THIS IS NOT NEW INFORMATION.

Those taking advantage of a compromised combat veteran should be held accountable for driving them to suicide.  This includes law makers and attorneys.

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Posted on April 4, 2012 by The Military Suicide Report

Moments of Despair
Suicide, Divorce, and Debt in Civil War Era North Carolina

“Her husband began drinking heavily soon after their wedding, often returning home drunk and abusive. On their second wedding anniversary, an intoxicated Francis stumbled home and began verbally abusing his wife and infant son, breaking furniture, and throwing the fragments at his terrified spouse, who shielded their baby in her arms. Luckily for Addie, Francis’s drunkenness impaired his aim, and she fled the house, running to her mother’s with Francis pursuing them “with an unsheathed bowie knife in his hand.” — excerpt from Moments of Despair

Book Review
by Angela Esco Elder
Oct. 10, 2011

Pills stalled their hearts, bullets tore their brains, and knives sliced their wrists when men refused to live another day. Farmers fought and survived the bloodiest war in American history only to return home to pregnant wives, but not by their seed. Other wives came to court battered and beaten, begging for release from their marriages because for their husbands, war was not over.

Meanwhile, debt shackled families across the South, clasping white and black North Carolinians alike into a form of economic enslavement in a land supposedly free from slavery. Suicide, divorce, and debt— this was the legacy of the American Civil War and is the topic of David Silkenat’s new book Moments of Despair: Suicide, Divorce, & Debt in Civil War Era North Carolina.

Read the rest of this review:

http://southernroundtable.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/a-review-of-david-silkenats-moments-of-despair-suicide-divorce-and-debt-in-civil-war-era-north-carolina-by-angela-

https://themilitarysuicidereport.wordpress.com/

CENTER FOR DEPLOYMENT PSYCHOLOGY: Legal and Financial Problems are Top Stressors for Service Members Regarding Suicide

Suicide in the Military

By Augusto Ruiz, PsyD
Deployment Behavioral Health Psychologist

Suicide in the military is a very serious problem. Historically the suicide rates have been lower in the military than those rates found in the general population. However, with the continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military suicide rates have been increasing and surpassing the rates for society at large.

The Army has had the highest proportional number of suicides compared to the other services. However, Admiral Mullen noted that the rates in all the services have been creeping upwards (Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, 2010). Wiebe et al 2006 examined the rates of suicide from 1993-2002 and found that suicide was the first leading cause of death for female veterans and the second leading cause of death for male veterans.  Kaplan et al 2009 found that military veterans were twice as likely to die of suicide compared to male non-veterans in the general population.  In addition, the researchers found that individuals who were White, had greater than 12 years of education, and had activity limitations were at a greater risk for suicide completion. Other studies have also identified that failed intimate relationships, occupational, legal, financial, and psychiatric problems are top stressors for Service members. Therefore, it is important to become aware of these risk factors and proactively intervene to help Service members that are having difficulty coping.

The Department of Defense has taken steps to increase suicide prevention efforts. They have ordered command stand downs, mandated classes on suicide prevention, created videos, and encouraged leadership to ensure that all commanders are taking care of the Service members under their care.

What are some other strategies that can be used to help Service members who are struggling with suicidal thoughts?  The first strategy is to work on increasing protective factors as early as possible. This means intervening during and right after boot camp. It is important to have clear goals that the Service members are striving to meet. An example of some goals would include obtaining further education, developing technical skills, travelling, and getting promoted. These goals would be instrumental in creating hope and future oriented thinking for our Service members. The second strategy that can be used to help Service members is to create an environment where there is no stigma associated with receiving services for mental health problems. Offering mandatory counseling to units that have been involved in intense combat situations may alleviate the stigma of each soldier having to ask permission for counseling. In addition, it is important to have well trained and adequate numbers of staff available to work with our Service members when they are ready for treatment. If a Service member is having fleeting suicidal thoughts today, it may not be helpful to get an appointment in three weeks. The third strategy we can use to help service members struggling with suicidal thoughts is to ask the difficult questions that will help one determine the Service member’s risk for suicide.

You may want to ask the following questions:

  • Are you currently having any thoughts of hurting yourself?
  • Do you currently have any desire to kill yourself?
  • Do you currently have any specific plan to kill yourself?

It is important to note that a suicide assessment is not a one time screen, but rather should be regularly used especially if there is a significant change in symptoms. Service members should also be asked about their access to fire arms and recommendations should be made for removal of weapons while they are experiencing suicidal ideation.

The fourth strategy that we can use to prevent suicide with Service members is to have clear knowledge of how everyone at the command will act when faced with a potentially suicidal Service member. There should be a clear plan of action of who to contact and how to react. For example, suicide notes should be immediately reported up the chain of command and taken very seriously. Medical teams should be contacted to intervene as soon as possible.

One of the most important things we can offer a Service member with suicidal thoughts is a safety plan. This plan should be collaboratively developed by both the Service member and his/her clinician. This plan should include the Service member’s specific warning signs that he/she is feeling worse, strategies that the Service member will use to cope with their suicidal thoughts, telephone numbers of friends or family that the Service member can call for support, and the telephone numbers for emergency contacts such as the clinic number, suicide hotline number, nearest hospital and 911.  It is important to take every suicide threat seriously.  Not taking a threat seriously can lead to an exacerbation of symptoms or a possible accidental suicide. Regardless of the type of suicide behavior, it is important to try to understand the meaning behind that behavior.

http://deploymentpsych.org/topics-disorders/suicide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NY TIMES and IAVA’s Paul Rieckhoff Acknowledge Financial Issues Linked to Veteran Suicide

Suicides Outpacing War Deaths for Troops

By 
Published: June 8, 2012

The suicide rate among the nation’s active-duty military personnel has spiked this year, eclipsing the number of troops dying in battle and on pace to set a record annual high since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than a decade ago, the Pentagon said Friday.

Suicides have increased even as the United States military has withdrawn from Iraq and stepped up efforts to provide mental health, drug and alcohol, and financial counseling services.

The military said Friday that there had been 154 suicides among active-duty troops through Thursday, a rate of nearly one each day this year. The figures were first reported this week by The Associated Press.

That number represents an 18 percent increase over the 130 active-duty military suicides for the same period in 2011. There were 123 suicides from January to early June in 2010, and 133 during that period in 2009, the Pentagon said.

By contrast, there were 124 American military fatalities in Afghanistan as of June 1 this year, according to the Pentagon.

Suicide rates of military personnel and combat veterans have risen sharply since 2005, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan intensified. Recently, the Pentagon established a Defense Suicide Prevention Office.

On Friday, Cynthia Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman, said the Pentagon had sought to remind commanders that those who seek counseling should not be stigmatized.

“This is a troubling issue, and we are committed to getting our service members the help they need,” she said. “I want to emphasize that getting help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength.”

In a letter to military commanders last month, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that “suicide prevention is a leadership responsibility,” and added, “Commanders and supervisors cannot tolerate any actions that belittle, haze, humiliate or ostracize any individual, especially those who require or are responsibly seeking professional services.”

But veterans’ groups said Friday that the Pentagon had not done enough to moderate the tremendous stress under which combat troops live, including coping with multiple deployments.

“It is clear that the military, at the level of the platoon, the company and the battalion, that these things are not being addressed on a compassionate and understanding basis,” said Bruce Parry, chairman of the Coalition of Veterans Organizations, a group based in Illinois. “They need to understand on a much deeper level the trauma the troops are facing.”

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, called suicides among active-duty military personnel “the tip of the iceberg.” He cited a survey the group conducted this year among its 160,000 members that found that 37 percent knew someone who had committed suicide.

Mr. Rieckhoff attributed the rise in military suicides to too few qualified mental health professionals, aggravated by the stigma of receiving counseling and further compounded by family stresses and financial problems. The unemployment rate among military families is a particular problem, he said.

“They are thinking about combat, yeah, but they are also thinking about their wives and kids back home,” he said.

VA backed Veterans Crisis Line reports relationship problems, financial or legal issues as stemming crisis leading to suicide

COMBAT VETERANS (25% of the 2.4 million veterans of the current war are rated under Service Connection, Disability) come home to:

1. relationship issues

2. health issues (combat injuries etc)

3. TBI- (this injury has been described by vets who suffer it as ‘having a brand new brain put in your head, you are no longer you, and are forced to learn who you are all over’- all the way down to how food tastes) many vets (diagnosed and professionally predicted a very large volume of undiagnosed) with varying degrees of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) have reading difficulties or cannot read at all due the nature of blast trauma affecting the connection between the brain & eyes, cognitive issues, blinding headaches and many other associated side effects

4. medication/over medicated- pain meds, psych meds (the list is never-ending) impair judgement and the over all well-being of the person to whom they are prescribed

5. PTSD

6. financial issues exacerbated many times by all of the above

7. Embarrassment and being overwhelmed by all the above issues leads to isolation.  Isolation leads to loss of the very much needed support of friends, family and local community, especially during a veteran’s transition. The “road to recovery” more often than not, is during a very unstable time period in the vets life which creates feelings of despair, hopelessness & helplessness, creating desperation in seeking whatever relief can be found.  Drinking, drugs and other vices become a lifestyle to drown-out the .  The currently sky-rocketing suicide rate shows over and over and over, statistically we are not providing the support and protection that is needed for these wounded American’s to heal and move into the next phase of their life.

FROM: Veterans Crisis Line

In 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line was established as a partnership among VA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. In 2009, VA added an online chat option to the Veterans Crisis Line hotline, and a text messaging service was launched in 2011.

Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 650,000 calls and made more than 23,000 life-saving rescues. In 2009, VA added the anonymous online chat that has since helped more than 65,000 people.

In 2011, the National Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline was renamed the Veterans Crisis Line.

Even if there is no immediate danger, the Veterans Crisis Line is here for you. Crisis feels different for everybody and can stem from a wide range of situations. Some Veterans are coping with aging, stress, relationship problems, financial or legal issues, or lingering effects stemming from their military service, which were never addressed. Some Veterans have difficulty with their relationships or the transition back to civilian life.

Whatever’s got you down—chronic pain, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, anger, or even homelessness—a Veterans Crisis Line responder can provide support, day or night.

http://veteranscrisisline.net/Default.aspx

ATTENTION GOV NATHAN DEAL/Georgia, A Judge in your court system is circumventing the Federal Law on Veterans Disability

Mr. Smith is a severely injured war veteran who among other things suffers from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  The stress of the jail time Honorable Judge William C. Rumer has sentenced him to, the cognitive challenges, the challenge of an impaired ability to speak and being told repeatedly he cannot have his current wife (Official VA Caregiver) with him during court to help him recall dates etc has driven Mr. Smith to attempting suicide more than once.  The former able bodied spouse earns over $40 per hour as a trauma nurse, and over $60 an hour on overtime, which she regularly has worked.

The exact wording from the final official document of the Honorable Judge William C. Rumer decision to give the former spouse 1/2 of Mr. Smith’s disability:

“If and only if Husband receives Veterans Disability that is offset against his military retirement, then Husband shall pay as alimony to Wife, until the death of either party or Wife’s remarriage, dollar for dollar any reduction in his retirement because said retirement pay has been reduced by the award of any Veterans Administration Disability.” (see below for court document)

http://usvetbloodmoney.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/20110329-smith-v-smith-division-of-disability-benefits.pdf

Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees: Disability Abuse by State Courts

Veterans’ from across this nation are concerned about the indiscriminate taking of Congressional mandated Veterans’ Administration benefits by state courts. In seeing that these benefits are protected against state court abuses, veterans’ are watching.

Veterans cannot stand by, and no longer let these issues go unchallenged. To serve as a reminder that, no matter what a veterans’ loss, and service to this country had been, there are those individuals, and courts out to destroy what veterans’ fought, sacrificed and tried to preserve. Veterans’ therefore, must forever be vigilant. These are men and women who volunteer their time and sacrifice their lives to protect the freedoms granted by the Constitutions of the United States.

I would like to quote a portion of the U.S. Constitution Supremacy Clause of Article VI. “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made pursuant thereof, and all treaties made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary, not withstanding.”

Unscrupulous lawyers and local judges are creating a financial windfall by awarding former spouses alimony from retired disabled veteran’s disability compensation. This is wrong and in error, and in violation of Title 38, section 5301 (a), USC Title 10 section 1408 and the state of Florida’s own statue, Title XLIII Chapter 744.626.

Disabled veterans receiving VA disability compensation upon divorce end up having a state court awarding the ex-spouse, “free” U.S. taxpayer money to a person who had no prior connection, interest, dependency, or relationship before the marriage. What ever happened to the legal theory, property that is obtained before marriage is not divisible? State courts, by these unfair rulings, are perpetuating, and encouraging divorce.

“TITLE 10–ARMED FORCES Subtitle A-General Military Law PART II-PERSONNEL CHAPTER 71–COMPUTATION OF RETIRED PAY Sec. 1408. Payment of retired or retainer pay in compliance with court orders…

(4) The term “disposable retired pay” means the total monthly retired pay to which a member is entitled less amounts which– (A) are owed by that member to the United States for previous overpayments of retired pay and for recoupments required by law resulting from entitlement to retired pay; (B) are deducted from the retired pay of such member as a result of forfeitures of retired pay ordered by a court-martial or as a result of a waiver of retired pay required by law in order to receive compensation under title 5 or title 38;… (c) Authority for the court to treat retired pay as property of the member and spouse.–(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, this section does not create any right, title, or interest which can be sold, assigned, transferred, or otherwise disposed of (including inheritance) by spouse or former spouse.”

Title 38 USC 5301. Nonassignability and exempt status of benefits (a) Payments and benefits due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law, and such payments made to, or on account of, a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary…(b) This section shall prohibit the collection by setoff or otherwise out of any benefits payable pursuant to any laws administered by the Secretary and relating to veterans’ their estates or their dependents, of any claim of the United States or any agency thereof against (1) any person other that the indebted beneficiary or the beneficiary’s estate, or (2) any beneficiary or the beneficiary’s estate except amount due the United States by such beneficiary or the beneficiary’s estate..”

The Supreme Court of Florida; In Padot v. Padot. “..Because Husband’s condition deteriorated, Husband’s veterans’ disability benefits increased, and correspondingly, a decrease of military pay. Military payments to Wife stopped accordingly…..

The First district acknowledged the equitable dilemma faced by the trial court, but found reversal [of Second District] necessary under Federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act and Federal case law prohibiting any distribution of veterans’ disability benefits to a former spouse. 10 USC s.1408 (a) (4) (B); 10 USC s. 1408(c)(1); Mansell v. Mansell 490 US;581(1989). The First district held. Here the former wife’s special equity interest in former husband’s retirement benefits was extinguished by operation of law upon re-allocation of former husband’s benefits from retirement to disability……

My case is almost identical to Padot v. Padot. In Padot v. Padot, like my case, we retired on full military retirement. As disabilities became apparent due to our condition deteriorating, we were given an award of disability and then increases in disability. Until 2004 concurrent receipt was not available to military personnel. Therefore in order to receive disability we had to waive our retirement pay into VA disability compensation. In my particular case, I was first rated at 30% (I waived that percent of my retirement pay), then I went to 60% ( again I waived that percentage from my retirement pay) then I went to 100%(and again waived that percentage)!!

Each time I waived the particular percentage, the former spouse would file a Motion of Contempt. I would be found uncooperative, but not in willful contempt. And the court would again award the former 50% of my disability compensation using 42 USC section 659 (h) (1) (A) (ii) (V) and code of Federal Regulation 581.103 (C) (7), which reads: that portion of Disability pay that was waived over from retirement pay is garnishable. And of course I finally waived 100%. Disability compensation is “disability compensation”, it should not matter how it became “disability” only that it is for service connected disabilities incurred from combat service.

Military retired pay and veteran’s disability compensation are two entirely different things, paid for different purposes and one should not offset the other. Each of these is earned in its own right. Retired pay for a career of arduous military service, and disability compensation for the pain, suffering, and lost future earnings resulting from service-incurred disabilities.

Courts of other states have also concluded that federal law preempts a state court from dividing a spouses’ present or future VA disability benefits during dissolution proceeding. [Cases cited] Relying on Hisquierdo and section 5301(a)(1), these courts have found that payment of disability benefits is not an earned property right accrued out of specific terms of service, but instead a benefit of employment that may be withdrawn at any time and under any condition that Congress may choose.

As such, the recipients of such benefits have no vested right in their continuing receipt. After comparing the federal statutory prohibitions against attachment of both disability benefits and railroad benefits, these courts have concluded that the division of anticipated VA disability benefits conflicted with the clear intent of Congress that the benefits are solely for the use of the disabled veteran.

Research has uncovered one Illinois decision addressing the question of whether military disability benefits are martial assets subject to division in a dissolution proceeding. See In re: Marriage of Hapaniewski 107 Ill. App 3rd 848(1982). In Hapaniewski the reviewing court considered the former Husband’s argument that the trial court had violated federal law when it awarded his former spouse additional martial property as an offset to his military disability benefits. After reviewing the legislative history of the veterans’ disability compensation program, the reviewing court explained that the purpose of the program was to provide relief from the impaired earning capacity of the veteran’s disabled as a result of military service.

Veterans, and those returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Walter Reed Medical Center rely on the same wording as in Florida law, the Constitution of the United States, case law, United States Code, Florida Supreme Court rulings, City of Miami Municipal Code, Florida Statutes, but the inconsistencies with these laws as applied to, is never-the-less, the local state judges ruling. The injustice being, applicable laws, both Federal, and Florida, having been circumvented in order to secure Veterans Administration (VA) disability benefits, in a sort of an equitable alimony distribution. To perceive some sort of fair justice.

In my case as indicated by Circuit Judge Robert Foster’s judgment award, at a time of my greatest need, I appealed for help. It is apparent, my service, sacrifice, the laws of the United States, its Constitution, and the laws of Florida had no effect. Judge Foster’s and Judge Sabella’s ruling indicates clearly, it did not matter how distinguished my service has been to this nation in defending the preservation and protection of these laws, and our country. Circuit Court judge Foster and Sabella interpreted the law, and concluded, by their order, Veterans’ Administration (VA) disability payments is fair game, in stark contrast to Florida State statutes, case law, and the applicability of federal law.

42 USC 659 is the law referred to, giving consent to the Secretary of the Treasury, to the administrative enforcement of withholding or garnishment. However, again, 659 cannot be referred to, or used as arguments, in the justification for withholding. This is exactly what happened in my case. Where Judge Robert Foster, entered in his order on former wife’s motion for contempt and motion to increase VA disability garnishment by stating, “Under 42 USC 659(h) (A) (ii) (V) that portion of VA Disability pay that was waived over from retirement pay is garnishable.

Being two distinct and unrelated issues, the obvious question being, what has a Veterans’ Administration retired pay benefits have to do with Social Security disability compensation? Absolutely nothing! Except for the fact it reveals the judges thinking. Into his not letting me get off that easy. And as many Judges do, will use the authority of the court to punish a veteran.

What is so appalling is the order blasphemously violates federal law! The Department of Veterans Affairs have a fiduciary responsibility to protect disabled veterans disability compensation from the claims of creditors, attachment, levy or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary? The Department of Veterans Affairs have a fiduciary duty to protect veteran’s disability compensation as mandated under Title 10 USC 1408 and Title 38 USC 5301.

RICK THIEL
SFC, USA, Retired
Disabled Combat Veteran
http://www.usdr.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=122&Itemid=26

Money Woes, War Trauma Prompt More Veterans to Attempt Suicide

“Do these family law attorneys, judges and law makers understand they are driving us to suicide.  When we come home and we have nothing left in our shattered lives and we are forced into homelessness because they ‘steal’ the only thing that we have left, that was promised in return for our quality of life if we are forced to give it. They give it to our able-bodied former spouse leaving us no way to take care of ourselves with any dignity at all?  I’d rather die than live this way.”  Afghanistan Military Veteran

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified,shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” Gen George Washington

Published: Tuesday 04 September, 2012

More than 120 area vets harmed themselves during the past fiscal year, according to a new report; San Diego officials are adding services to help them.

A total of 126 area veterans attempted suicide and 22 succeeded in the fiscal year that ends next month, according to Veteran Affairs officials.

The data comes from the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System Suicide Prevention Program in advance of National Suicide Prevention Week, which begins Sept. 9.
San Diego County is home to roughly 30,000 veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s those troops who are showing up in suicide statistics at a greater degree than others, according to the VA

Almost half of crisis calls received by the VA’s suicide prevention program are people who have served since 9/11, officials said.

“When we began in 2007, all the calls were from older veterans,” suicide prevention coordinator Paula Saltz said in a statement. “Now, almost half of the number of crisis calls we receive are from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans. Even with a greater number of younger veterans calling, suicide rates are still higher as a veteran gets older.”

Common reasons for suicide attempts are financial hardship, drug and alcohol abuse and ongoing trauma from mental and physical injuries on the battlefield.

To aid veterans’ at risk for suicide, the VA recently hired 32 clinicians in San Diego to provide faster service for mental health appointments.

The agency also introduced web-camera teleconferencing for patients who cannot appear in person, and is planning to open a 40-bed transitional housing center early next year for veterans with mental health problems.

https://msrc.fsu.edu/news/money-woes-war-trauma-prompt-more-veterans-attempt-suicide

 

THE AMERICAN LEGION: “Willick’s law suit is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to silence those who disagree with him from publicly criticizing him”

The American Legion Newsletter 1 July 2012, Mystic Island Post 493 Little Egg Harbor

USFSPA & Divorce [21] ————– (Marshall Willick Lawsuit)

USFSPA & Divorce Update 21:      Marshall Willick, a divorce lawyer based in Las Vegas who specializes in representing the ex-spouses of military retirees in divorces, has filed a lawsuit in the Clark County District Court (NV) against several disabled military veterans and organizations.   Willick named 11 defendants and ten “Doe” (unknown) defendants.  The first two defendants, and apparent primary targets,  were Vietnam combat
disabled combat veterans along with the veteran service organizations they are affiliated with (i.e. Operation Firing for Effect, Inc. and Veterans For Veteran Connection, Inc.) and the Veterans Today Military & Foreign Journal.  In the lawsuit, Willick complains of e-mails and website postings alleging false information about himself and the Willick Law Firm.  The defendants and attorney Willick have been engaged in an on-going political debate over the rights of states to order certain payments in a divorce settlement directly from veteran’s disability compensation, which the dependents allege are in violation of federal law. Specifically 38 USC 5301 and 10 USC 1408, as well as the 1989 Supreme Court decision of Mansell v. Mansell.
At the heart of the public debate is Willick’s claim that VA disability compensation awarded to combat disabled veterans belongs to the veteran’s entire family, including ex-spouses. He also claims VA disability compensation is income, and in a divorce the ex-spouse is entitled to a significant portion of that income as alimony. According to
Willick, sorting out how much of a veteran’s disability compensation is awarded to an ex-spouse is what divorce courts are for. He also claims that combat military service is no more dangerous than the work of zoo keepers and construction workers. According to the two dependents, Willick’s law suit is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to silence those who disagree with him from publicly criticizing him and his attempts to strip combat
disabled veterans of their earned disability compensation. Both veterans consider his law suit to be an attack on their 1st Amendment rights of free speech and believe that his law suit was filed in retaliation for formal complaints they filed against him with the Nevada State Bar in January of this year.
Lawyers advising the defendants have reviewed Willick’s law suit and feel this suit is a classic SLAPP (Strategic Litigation against Public Participation) suit – a type of aggressive law designed to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.  Although many states have outlawed such suits and allow for defendants to have such suits quickly adjudicated and be reimbursed for their costs, the legislation in Nevada is weak on this subject, providing only limited protection (NRS 41.635 to 41.670). Defendants allege it appears Willick would prefer to bring an action against disabled veterans instead of addressing the issues with the group in a meaningful dialogue. One of his causes of action is defamation,
meaning that he will be alleging that there were false statements of fact that harmed his reputation. Ultimately, it 4 seems the issues he proffers will have their day in court.  Source: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/06/10/lasvegas-divorce-attorney-sues-disabled-veterans/

http://nj-americanlegionpost493.org/files/Bulletin_July.pdf

Disabled American Veterans: RESTORE PROTECTIONS AGAINST UNWARRANTED AWARDS OF VETERANS’ BENEFITS TO THIRD PARTIES IN DIVORCE ACTIONS

RESOLUTION NO. 165

RESTORE PROTECTIONS AGAINST UNWARRANTED AWARDS OF VETERANS’ BENEFITS TO THIRD PARTIES IN DIVORCE ACTIONS
August 11-14, 2007
WHEREAS, disability compensation and other veterans’ benefits were intended and should be provided solely to fill specific needs of veterans; and WHEREAS, Congress intended to exempt veterans’ benefits from the claims of third parties to ensure that such benefits were not voluntarily assigned or through legal processes diverted to purposes or persons other than for which they were intended; and WHEREAS, for purposes of support payments in divorce actions, state courts and the Supreme Court of the United States have arbitrarily created exceptions to the protection for veterans’ benefits Congress established in section 5301 of title 38, United States Code, thereby forcing veterans to surrender their benefits to third parties, contrary to the intent of Congress; and WHEREAS, the courts show little understanding or appreciation for the principle that veterans’ entitlements are awarded solely to veterans because of their personal sacrifices, contributions in the defense of our Nation, or consequent personal suffering associated with service-connected disabilities and for that reason should not inure or vest to the benefit of others who have no natural right or valid legal interest in such benefits; and WHEREAS, courts have, for example, shown no hesitation to force disabled veterans to surrender their disability compensation and sole source of sustenance to able-bodied ex-spouses as alimony awards; and WHEREAS, there is a lack of uniformity in how the various courts treat veterans’ benefits in divorce actions because the courts act according to their own will rather than any consensus on the meaning and intent of the law; and WHEREAS, this situation creates a need for Congress to intervene to override the effect of the law given by the courts; to restore meaning, equity, and uniformity to the law; and to reinstate safeguards against veterans’ benefits being siphoned into the pockets of persons who have no right to such benefits; NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Disabled American Veterans in National Convention assembled in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 11-14, 2007, supports legislation to amend section 5301 of title 38, United States Code, to restore protections against unwarranted awards of veterans’ benefits to third parties by prohibiting courts from directly ordering payment of such benefits to third parties, other than dependent children when justified by the circumstances, and by prohibiting courts from taking notice, or the inclusion of, amounts received as veterans’ benefits in determining such awards.

http://usvetbloodmoney.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/pvoa-5301.pdf

Paralyzed Veterans of America: Restoration of Exemption from Court-Ordered Awards to Former Spouses

Restoration of Exemption from Court-Ordered Awards to Former Spouses: Thought interpretation of the law to suit their own ends, the courts have nullified plain provisions protecting veterans’ benefits against claims of former spouses in divorce actions.
Congress has enacted laws to ensure veterans; benefits serve their intended purposes by prohibiting their diversion to third parties. To shield these benefits from the clutch of others who might try to obtain them by a wide variety of devices or legal processes, Congress fashioned broad and sweeping statutory language. Pursuant to 38 U.S.C. §5302(a), “[Payment of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law,
and such payments made to, or on account of, a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary.]”Thus, while as a general rule an individual’s income and assets should rightfully be subject to legal claims of others, the special purposes and special status of veterans’ benefits trump the rights of all other except liabilities to the United States Government. Veterans cannot voluntarily alienate their rights to veterans’ benefits. The justification for this principle in public policy is one that can never obsolesce with the
passage of time or changes in societal circumstances. However, unappreciative of the special character and superior status of veterans’ rights and benefits, the courts have supplanted the will and plain language of Congress with their own expedient views of what the public policy should be and their own convenient interpretations of the law. The courts have chiseled away at the protections in 5301 until this plain and forceful  language has, in essence, become meaningless. Various courts have shown no hesitation to force disabled veterans to surrender their disability and sole source of sustenance to able-bodied former spouses as alimony awards, although divorced spouses are entitled to no veterans’ benefits under veterans’ law. The welfare of ex-spouses has never been a purpose for dispensing veterans’ benefits. We should never lose sight of the fact that it is the veteran who, in addition to a loss in earning power, suffers the pain, limitations in the routine activities of daily life, and the other social and lifestyle constraints that result from disability. The needs and well-being of the veteran should always be primary, foremost, and overriding concern when considering claims against a veteran’s disability compensation. Disability compensation is a personal entitlement of the veteran, without whom there could never be any secondary entitlement to compensation by dependent family members. Therefore Federal law should place strict limits on access to veterans’ benefits by third parties to ensure compensation goes mainly to support veterans disabled in the service of their country. Congress should enact legislation to override judicial interpretation and leave no doubt about the exempt status of veterans’ benefits. Recommendation: Congress should amend 38 U.S.C §5301(a) to make its exemption of veterans’ benefits from the claims of others applicable “notwithstanding any other provision of law” and to clarify that veterans’ benefits shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever “for any purpose.”

http://usvetbloodmoney.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/pvoa-5301.pdf