Mother of Dead Soldier paid $800 Death Gratuity 43-years later

by Terry Richards

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – In a letter dated January 20, 2011 titled: “Subject: Waiver of Time Limits on payment of Death Gratuity of PFC William D. Noddin (KIA Vietnam April 25, 1968) to his mother, Mrs. Lorraine E. Noddin, DOHA Claim No. 2011-CL-011107.”

After I spent about 30-hours on this claim over the last 18-months, and Mrs. Noddin spending countless more hours including driving-time over the last 30-months endeavoring to find the proper agency to send this claim to, and then to get a Time Limit Waiver, about 6-months ago Mrs. Noddin went to Congressman C.W. Bill Young’s Office asking the Congressman to make inquiries into this matter.

On or about January 25, Mrs. Noddin received a letter from Leon Schachter, Director of the Department of Defense Legal Services Agency Office of Hearing and Appeals in Arlington Virginia, stating that he waived the “BARRING ACT” Time Limits of 6-years, and 43-years after the death of her son Billy, Mrs. Noddin received the $800 Death Gratuity she should have been paid in 1968.

In pertinent part Schachter stated that:

“Our experience suggests that during the Vietnam era, the appointment of casualty officers was often as a collateral duty, and they did not always receive the necessary training to assist survivors. It is not difficult to imagine that PFC Noddin’s parents were not informed of the death gratuity benefit and would have claimed the gratuity if they had been made a aware of it.”

View earlier stories below to understand the full story.

 SEE ORIGINAL FIRST PART OF STORY BELOW

Originally posted on Veterans Corner by Terry Richards October 16, 2009

MOTHER OF SOLDIER KILLED IN VIETNAM NEVER TOLD ABOUT DEATH GRATUITY

Lorraine & David Noddin’s Son William “(Billy”) was killed in action in Vietnam on April 25, 1968.  They knew about and were paid out the $10,000 Soldiers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) available at the time but they were never told about the DEATH GRATUITY also available at the time which was equal to 6-months of Billy’s base pay or to a maximum of $800 according to Department of Defense Officials.  Billy’s pay rate as a Private First Class (PFC) was $137.70 – $192.00 per month at the time.  So the Noddin’s were entitled to at least $800.

Mrs. Noddin’s husband David died in 2000 leaving her with only one income from Social Security Retirement.  In 2008, 40-years later, after hearing about the current Death Gratuities, Mrs. Noddin researched the archives of the military on the internet and discovered that she was eligible for a Death Gratuity in 1968.  So Mrs. Noddin went to the VA Regional Office in St.   Petersburg, Florida which also happens to be where she lives.  The VA not only gave her an outdated and unusable 1964 version of a DD FORM 397 Death Gratuity claim form but said they did not know the address of where she had to send the claim form or how much the Death Gratuity paid.

Determined to file her due and lawful claim, Mrs. Noddin made a 2-hour drive to her U.S. *Senator Bill Nelson’s Office in Orlando, Florida where she hoped to find more answers.  Although she did get an updated DD FORM 397 DEATH GRATUITY claim form Mrs. Noddin told me that none of the staff at Senator Nelson’s Office could provide her with the address of where to send the DD FORM 397.  A similar letter like this article was sent to President Obama in early August asking for him to intervene and a copy was also sent to Senator Nelson’s Office.  On or about August 26, 2009 I spoke to Frank, a Staff member in the Orlando Office of Senator Nelson who called me to advise me that he forwarded a letter from the Department of the Army’s Chief Liaison Office to Mrs. Noddin which stated that the $10,000 Life Insurance Policy had already been paid out and that the time limit for filing a claim for the Death Gratuity had expired, so finding out the address as to where Mrs. Noddin could file her Death Gratuity claim was MOOT…  However, it was NOT MOOT for Mrs. Noddin as she was not accepting the 6-year time limit to file this claim as she was never notified by the Government.  A few days later I received a copy of that said letter that was forwarded to Mrs. Noddin.  WHEREFORE, Mrs. Noddin’s statement to me that none of the staff at Senator Nelson’s Office could provide her with the address of where to send the DD FORM 397 STILL STANDS, IS ACCURATE, CORRECT, AND THE TRUTH…  (See Writer’s Footnote #2).

Totally frustrated, Mrs. Noddin wrote to Consumer Reporter *Jackie Callaway at WFTS ABC Action News in Tampa, Florida.  On or about July 10, 2009, Jackie contacted me to see if I could find out the address for Mrs. Noddin.  It took me about ten (10) telephone calls and five (5) e-mails to the Department of Defense to finally get the right address.  On July 17, 2009, *Lt. Colonel Eric S. Wolf from the United States Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Center (CMAOC) Chief – Past Conflict Repatriations Branch (PCRB) provided me with the correct address of where Mrs. Noddin could file her claim which is:

Army Long Term Family Case Management (ALTFCM) Branch

Department of the Army, U.S. Army Human Resources Command,

Attn: CMAOC-ALTFCM,

Room 9S41, 200 Stovall Street,

Alexandria, VA 22332-0482. 

Toll Free Telephone 1-800-272-5841 or (703) 325-2074.  

Website:  https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/active/tagd/cmaoc/altfcm/index.htm

Should you have any unanswered questions after contacting the above Army Long Term Family Case Management Branch, please contact LTC Eric S. Wolf Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Center (CMAOC)Chief – Past Conflict Repatriations Branch (PCRB), (703) 325-5305 (See writer’s Footnote #1).

Mrs. Noddin filed her claim that very same day.  However, in a letter dated August 31, 2009 from Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Indianapolis, Indiana, and signed by Steve E. Turner, Deputy Director, Operation, Mrs. Noddin’s claim was DENIED under the BARRING ACT of 1940 which is a 6-year statute of limitations on claims, as well as Title 31 of United State Code, Chapter 37, Section 3702(b)(3) –  “A claim that is not received in the time required under this subsection shall be returned with a copy of this subsection, and no further communication is required.” Therefore, the only Appeal left is to Appeal the matter to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates who has the Authority to Waive the time limitations pursuant to Title 31 of United States Code, Chapter 37, Section 3702(e)(1) AUTHORITY TO SETTLE CLAIMS which states in pertinent part that:  The Secretary of Defense may waive the time limitations set forth in subsection (b).

Click on link below to read this United States Code.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode31/usc_sec_31_00003702—-000-.html

I recommended to Mrs. Noddin that she make that Appeal and I will update this story after The Secretary makes his decision.  Since Mrs. Noddin was never told that a Death Gratuity even existed, reasonable minds could come to but one conclusion and that conclusion is that Justice requires that Secretary Gates WAIVE the time limitations on Mrs. Noddin’s claim so her claim can be GRANTED.

*WRITER’S FOOTNOTE #1:  After calling upon Lt. Colonel Eric S. Wolf on several occasions for answers to questions and opinions, Lt. Colonel Eric S. Wolf has been the most informative, cooperative and compassionate Member of the Department of Defense that I have communicated with to date, and therefore, I felt it noteworthy to mention

*WRITER’S FOOTNOTE #2In connection with Senator Nelson not providing the address for Mrs. Noddin, instead of twisting the truth or lying why can’t Politicians just once take responsibility and admit that they either did not do what they were suppose to do or could not find out what they were asked to find out by a Constituent?

*WRITER’S FOOTNOTE #3On September 23, 2009, Mrs. Noddin contacted Jackie Callaway by e-mail to update her about her Death Gratuity claim being Denied and to see if she had any further interest in her story, Mrs. Noddin wrote to Callaway:  “Hi: It has been quite a while since I sent you and email regarding why I was denied my Death Gratuity claim.  I am wondering if you have any interest in furthering my quest for satisfaction or if I should move on in another direction.  I can tell you I am not giving up as I have been wrongfully overlooked and hope something good will come of this as I am sure there are many other survivors of the military that have have similar problems with no satisfaction.  Just let me know.  Thanks.  Lorraine Noddin.”

Sadly, Callaway WITHDREW from further helping Mrs. Noddin saying in the reply E-mail: “Lorraine, I am not sure what else I can do.”

What Callaway and ABC Action News could have done was to Broadcast to its viewers in the Tampa Bay area Mrs. Noddin’s story like I have done with an E-mail Campaign, and like I am doing now with my Press Release and posting on my Website and sending copies to various National News Media so that other Survivors of Dead Soldiers like Mrs. Noddin who did not know about and were not paid their due and lawful Death Gratuity for their Sons and Daughters who were killed in the line of duty would know where to file and be informed of the hurdle and eventually the end results of Mrs. Noddin’s claim which will not end until the Secretary of Defense makes his decision on her claim.

And even after that Mrs. Noddin said she will take the matter to Federal Court if the time limitations are not waived by the Secretary of Defense and her claim not Granted, among other things, as Mrs. Noddin also feels that she should receive 40-years of interest at 6% which amount to approximately $9,000, and I agree with Mrs. Noddin that this is not an unreasonable request…

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