VA issues burial check for living vet: ‘To prove that I am alive is just insane’

The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense recently sent condolence letters and checks to cover funeral costs for a North Carolina veteran. The problem? The veteran, Robert Pressley, is not dead.

Pressley received the documents due to an apparent clerical error at the VA and is now fighting for his life, according to Fox News. Since the system has classified him as deceased, Pressley’s benefits have reportedly been terminated.

Unable to work due to combat-related injuries, the Wilmington resident told WECT-TV that he supports his small family and can’t afford to lose his benefits.

Robert Pressley reads his death letter from the VA and Department of Defense. (Source: WECT)
Robert Pressley reads his death letter from the VA and Department of Defense. (Source: WECT)

“To prove that I am alive is just insane and it scares me to death,” he said. “That at a touch of a button or because of someone’s clerical error my whole life can be taken away from me and it is.”

Not surprisingly, Pressley has been unable to get any answers or to reinstate his disability payment, VA healthcare and other medical insurance.

And though he previously informed the VA of his divorce, and has since remarried, duplicate letters were also sent to his ex-wife.

“I mean, what do I do?” Pressley asked, according WECT-TV. “I am not getting any answers, I am not getting any help. I am scared.”

Amazingly, Pressley’s case is not unique as there have been other reports of veterans being prematurely declared dead.

The VA told Fox News it is trying to determine what happened in Pressley’s case and correct the error.

“(The VA) is committed to providing all eligible veterans, service members and survivors with their earned care and benefits,” Randy Noller, a spokesman for the VA, told “VA also takes seriously its obligation to properly safeguard any personal information within our possession. Without a privacy waiver from the veteran, we are very restricted by privacy laws and policies in what we can provide at this time.”


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