FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A local veteran and his wife are in disbelief and want answers. Over the weekend, they got an official letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stating his benefits were coming to an end because he was dead. The only problem is the information’s wrong – he’s alive.
Veteran Jim Mitsch, who the VA claims is dead, spoke exclusively with NewsChannel Monday. He said when he checked the mail Saturday and saw an envelope from the VA addressed to his wife it raised his eyebrows. After looking it over he said they couldn’t believe what was right before their eyes. And the date the VA claimed he died made things even more frightening.
“They have you listed as dying on July 5, 2013 which coincidentally was July 5, 1967 that I thought that I really did die when we were ambushed. My squad was ambushed,” veteran Jim Mitsch said. Mitsch served in Vietnam. He said he was one of the few who made it out alive that day after being attacked.
“It raised the hair on my arms a little bit that that’s when I should had died. That’s when I thought I was going to die on that particular day and just through the luck of God that I’m still alive.” In the letter, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs said it would send his last benefits check to his wife. He worries it may take some time to straighten out the error and put a bind on his family’s finances. But Jim’s approaching it with a sense of humor.
“I might have to jump through hoops to prove that I’m still alive. I can do that though.” Jim said he has called the VA and told someone over the phone the information is wrong and he’s still alive.
“If you don’t hear anything by Friday, give us a call back. I think that’s rather ridiculous to wait that many days in order to try to rectify something.” Jim wants to figure out how this happened to make sure it doesn’t happen to other veterans. NewsChannel 15 also reached out to a couple of legislators and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in hopes of figuring out where the oversight was. Senator Dan Coats and Congressman Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) and the VA never returned our calls Monday.