PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – “I still can’t get over that. Having me deceased, and not getting an explanation.”
26-year Navy veteran Chris Sullivan was a dead man talking Friday night at his home in Churchland.
Three weeks ago, his wife opened some mail that you might say came from the dead letter file.
“[It read] ‘Dear Ms. Sullivan, we’re sorry for the loss, the death of your husband,’ and I’m like, ‘Chris, look what the VA just sent me,'” Veleria Sullivan said.
It even came with two checks, one for “burial allowance.” Fortunately what’s written on paper is not set in stone.
Chris Sullivan retired from the U.S. Navy eight years ago with medals and major back problems. He’s rated 100% service-disabled, but the VA stopped the benefits because — well — they thought he was dead. And in a case of true overkill, his military retirement was cut off, too.
“It’s a major financial hassle. Everything stopped. Everybody had me being deceased,” Chris Sullivan said.
The would-be widow says condolences from the woman on the phone weren’t necessary.
“She said ‘I want to say I’m sorry for your loss,’ and I said ‘My husband is not deceased. My husband is standing right here beside me.'” she said.
For now, the Veterans Affairs part of the problem appears to be solved.
“After two weeks of going back and forth, trying to get this resolved, they finally got a resolution yesterday,” he said.
But two months of Navy retirement — about $6,000 worth — remains dead in the water.
“They’re telling me it’s a process. I don’t know why it’s a process when you know that I’m alive. I’ve shown all my credentials that I’m alive,” Chris Sullivan said.
“The worst thing is their poor communication,” Veleria Sullivan said. “Because it’s not his error, it’s their error. But you’re penalizing him.”
10 On Your Side will contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which manages Chris Sullivan’s retirement account, to get them to make it right.