Military widows claim the gov’t is punishing them for the V.A.’s mistakes.

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-Widows of former U.S. soldiers have been contacting Fox 2 about strong-armed tactics they say the government’s using to collect money.  It involves alleged overpayments of death benefits.  These are payments the government reportedly wants re-paid with interest.

The latest widow said her husband started having flu like symptoms.  She said he was dead two weeks later from a glioblastoma brain tumor.

Peggy Turney said, “I worry about the other widows and even younger widows that are out there who don’t know what to do.  Because even with the life insurance? It’s not enough to have to start over.”
Turney says her husband, Master Gunnery Sergeant Michael Turney fought in Iraq in the early 90’s, near burning oil fields.  She says the V.A. claims his brain tumor was not connected to his military service.

Turney said, “I had nothing so I was panicking.  I was living somewhere I couldn’t afford.”
She says the V.A. sent her supplementary income benefit checks, but not enough to survive. She says she found a job and told the V.A.

She explained, “I didn’t even open the checks and so then we were returning them to the V.A. and then we would get paperwork where my address wasn’t valid, but I hadn’t even moved yet, so it was just one mess after another.”

She says the government wants thousands back, from what she did deposit, but the figure keeps changing.  Turney came forward after hearing Lucille Koester’s story, as told in January on Fox 2.   Koester’s late husband Andy was a veteran of WWII.  She says she never wanted the benefits, but the government insisted, then suddenly said they’d been overpaying her for years.
Koester told us, “They didn`t stop payment. I kept getting them for a whole year.”
The U.S. Treasury demanded the return of $40,000 in alleged overpayments -- plus $15,000 in interest.
Attorney Kenneth Carp told us, “After Lucile’s story, I got calls from about five or six different women, all literally exactly the same story.”

Carp says all of the widows want what’s right, maintaining they shouldn’t get anything extra.  They claim they can’t even get the government to explain the calculations.  Carp added, “Instead they’re acting in a defensive way and saying ‘no, this is a closed case’ because it’s too late.  It doesn’t make any sense.”
No one from the V.A. will respond.  At one point a representative said they’d talk if I got a signed waiver from a widow.  When that widow had her attorney draft one up and she signed it, that V.A. rep stopped talking.
Follow Fox 2’s Chris Hayes on Twitter @ChrisHayesTV
Contact Attorney Kenneth Carp through his website www.kcarplaw.com