Most of you who read my posts and articles, or who have read my book “Off Switch,” know that I live in the Philippine Islands. After banging my head against the wall for two years after my deployment to Iraq and my lengthy hospital stay at Madigan Medical Center being treated for injuries I incurred while in Iraq, I finally stopped banging my head and read the writing on said wall. What it said was, to summarize, “You are a 60% disabled combat veteran competing in an already ailing job market against fully fit- both physically and mentally- people, many of whom out qualify you in the private sector anyway.”

During this two year period, I’d been visiting the islands, and that little voice in my head that we all have (I think we call it the voice of reason, you know, the one we’re trained not to listen to?) kept saying, “Dude! You get just over a grand in tax free VA disability money each month. That converts to more than 40,000 pesos in the Philippines and is more than their educated professionals make! You can live like a middle class American there, and focus on your writing, which is where your heart truly lies, or you can keep going back to America, living with your parents at almost forty, get new prescriptions every time you visit the VA (remember, you’re up to seven now), and slowly, but surely, die.”

Needless to say, I finally listened to that little voice, and I’m happier now than I’ve been since before the war. During my time in service, I lost my family, all of my money, and my physical and mental health. In the past couple of years here in the islands, I’ve found a true soul mate who’s given me a beautiful son. I’ve kicked the addictions that all of those wonderful pills handed out to me like candy at Madigan Medical Center and the VA hospital led to. I write at a feverish pitch, and have decided to use my experiences to benefit my fellow veterans in any way that I can though the written word.

And this is one of those attempts.

Yesterday, I logged onto my online bank account to make sure that my VA disability check had been deposited. My heart skipped several beats when I saw red and a negative balance, beside which read the word “hold.”

I called my bank and was informed that the IRS had sent a letter demanding that the bank take all of my available funds out of my account on the first day of the month and wire them to them over night. The bank gave me a telephone number at which to call the IRS. Thus began a three hour game of hold and transfer, hold and transfer, and then talk to someone who could explain, in between placing me on hold, but at least not transferring me anymore.

Long story short; they claim I made $157,000 in 2010 and that I owe them tons of money, and until I pay it, a lien will remain on my personal bank account, and they have put a lien against my account at Amazon, the main distributor of my books.

Now, in their defense, I am not completely innocent. I did not file for 2010 or 2011. I spent the first part of 2010 as a patient at Madigan Medical Center, and when I staggered out of there, addicted to pain pills, the last thing on my drug addicted mind was filing taxes. Gotcha! In 2011; same thing. I was enjoying the multiple highs of multiple medications that the VA had since introduced me to, and again, I wasn’t thinking about taxes, especially since I could not find gainful, full time employment anyway. Oh, but I didn’t make anywhere NEAR $157,000, and I’m still laughing about that claim.

So, I’ve agreed with the IRS to quickly file for 2010 and 2011 and they’ve told me that once I do, they’ll make payment arrangements for me if I should owe anything (yeah right) and they will release the liens.

I kindly reminded the lady at the IRS about the Veterans Disability Act of 2010, a Federal law which exempts VA disability from withholding of any sort. Actually, this was already the law, but it was included in part of this newer legislation because too many civil court judges were legislating from the bench and including veteran’s disability monies as earned income and granting it to ex-spouses (men and women) in divorce proceedings, at times, leaving disabled veterans without any grocery money whatsoever. So, this already existing law was re-iterated with the cousin legislation of 2010.

After informing this lady of this, and asking her to please release the lien on my account so that my family and I could eat this month, and explaining to her that I lived in a third world country, where, because of the color of my skin and my nationality, I am deemed by all who see me, as being rich, and at times when I’ve gotten in a bind like this would certainly place me, there is no help for me. I’ve experienced this before, when my debit cards expired and the people at the address my replacement cards had been sent to had kindly marked them “return to sender” without informing me. My family and I waited three months for my new cards to be re-issued from the banks, and mailed to a real friend who forwarded them to me here in the Philippines. While waiting, we lived off of rice and noodles, purchased on credit at 50% interest from a ‘helpful’ native. I’ve since paid this ‘helpful’ native, and to my knowledge, she is still on vacation.

Anyway, after being placed on hold for a while again, she came back on the line and told me, “We do not take veterans disability money. We wait until the funds are deposited from the VA and then we take all of the funds from your bank account.”

Um. Isn’t this called laundering?

Now, why would our government do such things to disabled veterans in the first place? Let’s take a look at some numbers, what the ‘powers that be’ think of these numbers, and then what they appear to be doing because of these numbers.

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