East Texas Veteran Is Denied VA Benefits - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

04/25/08- Longview

East Texas Veteran Is Denied VA Benefits

  Jess Richardson spent only one year in Vietnam but it was what he brought back with him that scarred him the most. "I went to Vietnam when I was barely 18. I have scars right now from Agent Orange, and several years ago I came down with cancer. "

Because Richardson contacted Agent Orange, he received benefits from the VA. When he turned 60, he was eligible for retirement from the military. But in March, the government sent him a letter informing him that he couldn't receive both VA benefits and military retirement.

To make matters worse, Richardson has to pay all the money back the VA paid him in benefits. "For every dollar I get from the VA, they will deduct that from my retirement check, and I think that's unfair.  You can retire from anywhere else-- from a civilian job and get your VA plus your retirement. They just discriminate on military retirement," said Richardson. 

 This afternoon, we took Richardson's concerns to Congressman Louie Gohmert.

 "If somebody has actually earned a retirement benefit and has been done wrong by something like agent orange, then they should be entitled to the benefits accordingly.  We may have to pass some legislation to help Richardson.

Despite his VA check being taken away, Richardson says he's proud to have served his country.

"I'd serve again, if I had to. Your country sends you there and you go that's all there is to it." 

Richardson says he knows he is one of thousands of veterans who aren't receiving their VA benefits. Congressman Gohmert says his office will be looking in to Richardson's case.

LaKecia Shockley, Reporting  lshockley@kltv.com

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