PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Less than a week following our story showing a Navy veteran’s struggle after Veterans Affairs declared him dead, he has learned that his retirement payments that were stopped will now be reinstated.
Chris Sullivan served 26 years in the U.S. Navy and was getting regular disability payments from the VA as well as retirement payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).
Last month, his wife received a letter from the VA offering condolences on the death of her husband who was — and is — very much alive. Both the VA and DFAS had stopped his benefit payments. Eventually, Sullivan was able to get the disability benefits restored but his retirement remained in jeopardy.
10 On Your Side’s story Friday detailed Sullivan’s battle to get about $6,000 back into his retirement account. On Monday, DFAS notified him that he will get the money he’s entitled to after all.
“They let me know that I’m getting my account back to active status, and then [Wednesday] they’re gonna release the funds, and by Friday I should see the money in my account,” Sullivan said Tuesday afternoon.
Retired Army Maj. Richard Ryder of the Richmond area knows all too well about DFAS.
“It’s a big machine, it’s a lot of red tape, but you have to be tenacious, you can never give up,” Ryder said.
He battled with them for 16 years to get his correct retirement. He saw Sullivan’s story on our Richmond sister station, WRIC-TV.
“I saw it and I thought, wow, maybe there’s something that I can do,” Ryder said, adding that he notified an analyst he knew within DFAS.
The camaraderie doesn’t surprise Sullivan.
“That’s what we do as veterans. We look out for one another, and I appreciate that gentleman that did that,” Sullivan said.
Pretty soon, our story was known to the people inside DFAS who could make a difference.
“I can’t believe one phone call to WAVY 10 to get immediate results,” Sullivan said.