Fayetteville, NC – Charles Covell is a Bronze Star recipient, a Vietnam Veteran, and he is alive. The VA didn’t think so, they said someone filed a death certificate for him, so they cut off his disability benefits. It’s not the first time this kind of thing happened, nor will it be the last. It simply shouldn’t have happened at all.
“It’s not very nice to kill me.” Charles Covell
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs attempts to match Social Security files with VA files, and sends a letter to the “last known address.” According to Stripes, of 105,529 people identified as being dead, 245 were found to be erroneously listed as deceased. That’s not counting the 4,000 or so between 2011 and 2015 who had their benefits cut off incorrectly.
The usual problem is a similar name. We here at Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children have also found that to be a problem on occasion. A Charles R. Covell from New York was a Korean War veteran who died, and the VA got it mixed up with this Charles Covell, a Vietnam Veteran. It happens in every occupation from civilian to military.
Bronze Star Recipient
Stripes wrote of Covell’s valor,
Sgt. Covell voluntarily remained in an exposed position in an open rice field to advise, adjust supporting fire and assist as needed,” a citation for the medal reads. “After the unit sustained 10 casualties, including three leaders, he again continued to voluntarily expose himself to accurate sniper fire as he administered first aid to the wounded.”
Covell then directed a helicopter into position to evacuate the dead and wounded and helped load the casualties into the aircraft.
Then, the soldier again risked his life. This time, to save his Vietnamese allies.
With an American airstrike incoming, Covell ran through enemy fire to reach a Vietnamese platoon that had not received notice of the pending strike.
“They were going to take off, go out and confront the enemy across this field, and we couldn’t stop them,” he said. “We had the airstrike right where they were going.”
Covell was able to stop the platoon from advancing onto the strike target.
Fixing the problem
Cumberland County Veterans Services advocate Robert Shelly has been working to restore Mr. Covell’s benefits. Though he has not dealt with this kind of issue before, it has happened to hundreds of veterans.
Hopefully, this issue will be resolved as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, make sure your address is current for all mail, make sure if you get a letter from the VA that you respond immediately just in case they have you mixed up with someone else.
If the VA drags its feet in getting the Covell’s payment to them, it could be a problem. Hopefully they will expedite their response.
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