WWII vet waits years to find out amount owed to VA

WWII vet waits years to find out amount owed to Veterans Administration

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Ed Edwards shows us his wood service suit, which didn't see much action in the sweltering Pacific Theater. Ed Edwards shows us his wood service suit, which didn't see much action in the sweltering Pacific Theater.
"I don't like owing anything. If I have to pay it, I want to get it over with," Ed Edwards said. "I don't like owing anything. If I have to pay it, I want to get it over with," Ed Edwards said.
"I want him to be able to have peace of mind. He deserves it," Buddy Edwards said. "I want him to be able to have peace of mind. He deserves it," Buddy Edwards said.
A letter from the VA says Edwards' account is paid in full, but another letter sent later shows something different. A letter from the VA says Edwards' account is paid in full, but another letter sent later shows something different.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

CLARKRANGE (WATE) - A WWII veteran has been battling the Veterans Administration for several years over a relatively small amount of money.

Ed Edwards is the real deal. 6 On Your Side has seen documentation of his war service and more recently looked at extensive records showing what he's been going through.

Edwards and his son have been trying to find out exactly how much he owes to the Veterans Administration.  

"I had this to wear home after I was discharged," Edwards said as he showed a uniform he rarely wore during his service in World War II. It's wool.

Serving with the 40th Infantry Division in the Pacific, the former Army infantryman fought more than three continuous years from island to island.

"Guadalcanal, New Guinea," he said, reminiscing.

His unit saw combat on half a dozen other islands until his discharge in 1945.

Back in the states he married a local girl and settled in Fentress County where they raised three kids.  

However, the images of those war years are still vivid.

"A lot of nights, I lay awake and it is like things happened yesterday," he said.

Edwards' home is close to an old school where he drove a school bus for many years.

Now 92-years-old, he draws a small pension from the state and Social Security benefits amounting to just under $800.

But when his wife died in 2005, Edwards became eligible for non-service connected VA benefits of just over $200 per month.

"They approved him of this pension, in 2007 and '08," his son, Buddy, said. He qualified because he was low income.

Buddy says his dad manages okay living on $1,000 per month. But a snafu five years ago over that VA pension now has Edwards concerned.

"I don't like owing anything. If I have to pay it, I want to get it over with," Ed said.

"We want to know what he owes them, so he can pay his debt," Buddy said.

For decades, Edwards worked for the school system. In 2008, he received $2,000 in back pay from the system, inadvertently.

However, he did not report that extra income in his yearly statement to the VA.

In letter after letter to the Veterans Administration, Ed and his son have tried to find out how much he must reimburse the government for the over payment.  

"They said because he failed to report, he is going to have to pay it back now. That was a one time thing in 2009. They got him down showing 2010, 2011, 2012 and they're expecting it in '13. So, if that be the case, he'd probably owes $10,000," Buddy said.

In June of this year, the VA wrote saying the issue with his repayment debt is "still not resolved."

However, that correspondence contradicts another letter written three years ago by the VA.

"In February of 2010, it shows here, we "received your correspondence on February 4, of 2010. We no longer show a debt on your record,'" Buddy read.

To make matters even more maddening, over the years Ed has written checks to the VA, repaying his debt.

"Right here for example. March 25 of 2009, he paid them back $140. Here it is, 'Your account is now paid in full," Buddy said.

"They just wrote and told me that they overpaid me a certain amount, so I sent them a check for it," Ed said.

Records show Edwards has sent several checks to the VA over the years, but there's been little information about the total debt.

"I want him to be able to have peace of mind. He deserves it," Buddy said.

Since the interview, one office that has authority to ask the VA questions and get some answers is U.S. Rep. Diane Black. We had Ed get in touch with her Crossville office.

Ed said the Veterans Administration called several days ago and told him the exact amount of his debt.

Ed is grateful to Rep. Black's office.


You can see Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports every Monday and Wednesday on 6 News at 5:00.

If you have a consumer question, send Don an email at ddare@wate.com or call his 6 On Your Side Hotline at (865) 633-5974.

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