In recent months, a number of disabled veterans have stepped forward to fight against divorce courts that are including their disability benefits in divorce settlements and alimony settlements. Now, a disabled veterans’ advocacy group, Operation Firing For Effect, has stepped forward in an effort to protect the rights – and the disability benefits – of our wounded veterans.
Matt Kazatek served in the Army for 21 years. During his two decades of time spent in the military, he suffered two service-related injuries: a back injury and arthritis. Although he collects veterans’ disability benefits for both issues, his compensation is being threatened by his recent divorce. Even though he is the person who suffered the injuries and who deals with the consequences of his injuries, his ex-spouse may be awarded part of his benefits during divorce proceedings. He doesn’t think that his veterans’ disability benefits should be included when the division of property takes place.
The issue is a nationwide problem – although the federal government states that veterans’ disability is not taxable and not available for garnishment or seizure, some states have decided that it is up for grabs in divorce proceedings because the veterans’ family is also affected by service-related injuries and illnesses. The question remains: are veterans’ disability benefits for the veteran alone, or for his or her family as well?
Operation Firing For Effect believes that veterans’ disability benefits should be left out of divorces and alimony negotiations. Recently, the group has organized rallies and raised awareness of the issue – while at the same time helping veterans like Matt Kazatek clarify the current laws.