The Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission is traveling around the country to various cities getting input. They may not hit your town, but if you have something you wish that they know, visit their website at http://www.vetscommission.org/
There you will find out exactly the input, and format they need, and their e-mail address. I submitted the following.
Written statement of, William H. Heino Sr.
Presented to the
Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission
When it comes to veterans, there is no law of the United States, from federal laws on down, VA law, state law, that protects the disabled veteran, The United States, as reported in the media lately, has abandon the veteran, along with everything else veteran. As a veterans' advocate, I have found, they are right. State courts, having ruled, in violation of the law, awarding as alimony, VA disability compensation, not according to law, but on the personal whim of judges. Although United States law, being quite clear on the subject, an so stated in federal law, and eloquently stated in the Supreme Court ruling in Rose v. Rose (1986). But as veterans have found, federal laws, or Supreme Court rulings do not protect the disabled veteran in divorce court.
All these laws, even state statutes are meaningless, when many veterans' are faced with contempt, and jail time, for their belief in following, and upholding these very same laws, that the veteran supposedly thought he has working for him. Federal law, United States Supreme Court rulings, VA laws, state law. As you will see, these did not work for disabled Vietnam veteran Calvin Murphy.
Working on behalf of these veterans' who find themselves being bullied by state judges, I have searched the internet for state laws that run contrary to the judgment handed down in these Veterans Administration disability compensation alimony awards. What have I found?
In state after state, you will find many statutes, using similar language as in federal veterans' law (38 USC 5301), which exempts municipality or local law plans and pension's "..shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever and shall be unassignable." Have your staff pick any outstanding veterans' divorce case, in any state, involving Veterans Administration disability compensation being awarded as alimony. Searching state statutes, you will come up with what is wrong with the system. I'll give you one excellent example of exactly what you will find. In Michigan, the unassignable clause is good for everybody in America, and any purpose, except when it comes to honoring the United States veteran for his service.
What follows are references to Michigan statutes regarding non-assignability of benefits. This did not help Bear Lake, Michigan, disabled Vietnam veteran Calvin Murphy. He was sent to jail for contempt. Contempt for following the law, the not assignable clause (listed below), and not paying alimony claims from his Veterans Administration, and Social Security disability benefits. Non-assignable, is good for anything, and everybody else, but not Calvin Murphy.
MICHIGAN VIETNAM VETERAN ERA BONUS ACT
35.1027 Payment of claim; claim not assignable or subject to garnishment, attachment, or levy of execution; rejection of claim; notice; appeal; certification of record; order allowing or denying claim; return of files and records; reapplication for benefits.
MICHIGAN'S VIETNAM VETERAN ERA BONUS ACT(excerpt) 370 of 1974. 38.1027. "Payment of claims; claim not assignable or subject to garnishment, attachment, or levy of execution; rejection of claim,, notice; appeals; certification of record; order allowing or denying claim; return of files and records; reapplication for benefits."
DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS
MICHIGAN ARMY AND AIR NATIONAL GUARD
HANDBOOK FOR RETIREES
(INFORMATION AND BENEFITS UPON RETIREMENT) March 1, 2005
CHAPTER 12: UNIFORMED SERVICES FORMER SPOUSES' PROTECTION ACT 12-4. General Information and Facts pertaining to the Act
a. Depending on the court order, disposable retired pay is defined as retired pay to which a member is entitled less amounts:· Owed to the United States for previous overpayments of retired pay and for forfeiture required by law resulting from entitlement to retired pay.
· Deducted from the retired pay 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.
You will find this same language under 38 USC 5301, which he mentioned to Michigan's 19th Circuit Court Judge Batzer, just before Calvin Murphy was led away in handcuffs.
In compliance with Supreme Court rulings, a Michigan judgment in North v. North (2001) by Judge Donald Miller (Macomb County). Judgment was reversed Nov. 3, 2004. Ruling,.. that it was a blatant violation of veterans benefits Title 38 USC 5301. Judge Switalski refers to wording in Supreme Court ruling Mansel v. Mansel as the convincing basis for the reversal decision in the North v. North divorce case. This did not help Calvin Murphy. As you see nothing mattered to Judge Batzer.
Although this next case is not about the subject at hand but illustrates why Calvin Murphy was sent to jail, and suggests a solution is needed to enforce veterans' rights, and why federal law must protect veterans against abusive state judges. They rule, as did judge Batzer, not according to law, but their personal bias.
Last June (2005) in a landmark decision, Halbert v. Michigan, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1999 Michigan law that barred judges from appointing attorneys to help poor people who have pled guilty to appeal their sentences.
Despite the Halbert case, Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis C. Kolenda has denied appellate counsel to several poor people and stated that he has no obligation or intention of following the Supreme Court's ruling in the future and characterized the ruling as "incorrect" and "illogical."
In addition, the Michigan Supreme Court has issued a series of orders in order to implement and follow the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Halbert, but Judge Kolenda has also chosen to defy the Michigan Supreme Court."
How can veteran, a disabled veteran Calvin Murphy, win in Michigan? He can't. After being interviewed by a local newspaper, after contacting newspapers and Radio-TV stations across Michigan, absolutely not one item printed, or broadcast. No one cares. After your considering what you have just read, and going through the motion, veterans', along with Calvin Murphy expect nothing to happen which will change the status quo of veterans' disability awards. Veterans have become accustomed to being ignored. I just hope I do not have to list your Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission as to what's wrong in America.
William H. Heino Sr.