DFAS fight part 3
Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP
Attorneys at Law
1301 Travis St. Suite 210
Houston, TX 77002
Dear Ms. Cummings,
I have received your mail regarding the alleged debt owed to DFAS (account: 200717xxxxx) and would like to take this time to respond to your request for full payment. I have sent this letter previously with no acknowledgement nor action on your part on Sept. 14, 2008. This is an illegitimate debt. Understanding that your agency has been employed merely to recover this debt, I believe that you should know some its pertinent history. I have also chosen to write you this letter because I have been given no legitimate method for contacting anyone from the DFAS offices in order to rectify this situation; from the beginning until now.
I originally signed my Army contract for a 5 year deal with an $11000 bonus to be received over the length of that time. Near the end of my first contract, after returning from a year deployment to Iraq, I was coerced into re-enlisting for 4 years to be re-classed. I say ‘coerced’ because I was threatened by my commanding officer to be discharged within 72 hours while in Germany simply because while I was in Iraq, my wife at the time neglected my children and was sent back to the States. Having custody of my children in Germany without the hospices of the Army would have made it impossible for me to live. I was in a difficult position; I was unable to provide a valid Family Care Plan due to the antics of my ex-wife, and was being threatened by my commanding officer to lose my Army career. I opted to re-enlist to bide some time. That e-enlistment contract had no bonus, no options. I was told by several officers and the retention NCOIC that this contract fully negated the first.After verbally verifying how the contracts worked, I was accepting that the final two bonus payments from the first contract would not be paid. That is what official representatives of the US Army guaranteed me.
I took leave back to the States and tied to set up housing for my follow up assignment to Fort Gordon, GA. Because of my Family Care Plan (FCP) situation, they didn’t want me to show up. They provided no aid for me to find housing or getting my children set up at school. The duty shifts would have made it impossible for me to parent my children. I looked for alternate assignments but still found none that I could successfully do. All because I have no available family for the FCP. I did my best to continue my career in the Army, I loved being in the Army. But I was squeezed out due to the lack of an FCP. The paperwork says I was discharged on hardship, which in a way is true but not wholly accurate.
I received bills shortly after my discharge with extremely inflated erroneous amounts. I tried calling the phone numbers provided but was not met with any account rep that could help me resolve these issues. No, instead I was met with just a bill collector who didn’t care about issues, just when I would pay the debt back. Knowing there had to be some mistake, I ignored it for a while hoping that DFAS would catch there errors or that it was just a paperwork tangle. They didn’t.
The only avenue I found was to appeal to my local politicians who requested nothing more that the debt be looked into. Well, DFAS found some glaring errors in their accounting but I could still get no-one to listen to my situation to resolve the source of the debt. After a year and several attempts to appeal through politicians, I still have no voice.
I came across a DFAS hotline for veterans that were having debt problems upon discharge. This hotline was established by the VA, I believe because of the wide proliferation of these repayment requests. I talked to a very helpful SFC Shannon who provided me with a DFAS phone number. That phone number eventually went to a voicemail box that played a “mailbox full” message before hanging up. After a month or more of that, the message stopped playing and I was disconnected after a few rings. DFAS has never provided me, or apparently anyone else, a way to resolve these situations!
I tried for months to find a lawyer to help me but none would accept a case against the government because “nobody wins against the government”. So much for integrity. Then I found a local lawyer who happened to be former National Guard. He did me the favor of reviewing my case and pointing me to the regs that DFAS is operating under. He understands my position and believes that my case is significant and not that unique. I know a few other former soldiers and marines that have been tapped by DFAS after a discharge, but they gave up the fight and somehow found enough money to pay the debt and move on. My lawyer is unwilling, though, to handle debt law, so now I stand alone once again looking for a reasonable and fair resolution.
Dean Michael Dorman
(formerly a proud veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom III)