VA tells veterans they’re dead, cuts off benefits

FILE - In this April 2, 2015, file photo, a visitor leaves the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Rancho Cordova, Calif. The number of veterans seeking health care but ending up on waiting lists of one month or more is 50 percent higher now than it was a year ago when a scandal over false records and long wait times wracked the Department of Veterans Affairs, The New York Times reported Saturday, June 20, 2015, online ahead of its Sunday editions. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — Mike Rieker, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran, relies on his Veterans Affairs benefits to get him through the month.

That’s why the Pinellas County, Florida, resident was alarmed when his VA check didn’t show up in his bank account Monday. He called the Department of Veterans Affairs office to find out why, and their response was stunning.

You’re deceased, they said. Rieker, who was very much alive, called Congressman David Jolly.

According to Jolly’s office this is the sixth instance in the past 18 months where a veteran in Florida was erroneously declared dead. Jolly and is calling on VA Secretary McDonald to investigate the scope of the problem.

Rieker said Thursday that the VA assured him the money will be deposited in his account by mid-month.

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