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Ask Ms. Vicki: Departures and Troubles

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband fell in love with a married Iraqi woman while he was serving in Baghdad. He was discharged early, 2 years short of retirement & he (we) lost everything, his pension, medical benefits, etc. His lover brought her kids to the US with her & they all live together although he & I are still married. He's stopped paying the mortgage & my home is going into foreclosure. My car may also be repossessed soon. He hasn't given me any financial support in 18 months. I struggle to survive. I'm sure I'm not the 1st spouse this has happened to. Can you give me any advice as to how to handle the emotional devastation this has caused me & how I can move on? Do you know of any support groups I can join so I can gain positive reinforcement from others who have also experienced this trauma? Thanks so much…

Sincerely,
Jilted

Dear Jilted,

How stressful, devastating and unfair to you! Unfortunately you are not alone with this dilemma. It happens all too often. Have you filed for divorce or a legal separation? Are you seeing legal advice? One organization I'm aware of is EX-POSE (Ex-Partners of Servicemembers of Equality). Even though you are still married I think you should contact them for information, resources and advice. It's a great organization and serves many spouses who have faced similar situations. Their phone number is 703-941-5844. Their website is www.expose.org.

This is not pity, but I am very sorry this has happened to you. I'm not sure if you have children but I hope everyone is okay given the circumstances. I hope you have the support of great family and friends during this difficult situation. Please stay in touch with updates when you can.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Dear Ms. Vicki, 

I've been married to my retired military husband now since 2009. We are now separated and he has left the state. I haven't heard from him in almost 11 months now and when he put me out of our house he refused to help me with anything, but I still get my TRICARE. What should I do? Thank you for your time!

Sincerely,
VS

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Hi VS,

Thank you for reaching out to me. I'm not sure if you want to reconcile with your husband or just find him so you can get financial support or pursue a divorce. If your husband is retired but you have only been married to him for two years, it looks like your ID card and TRICARE will be valid until your ID card expires. After that I'm not sure if you would still be eligible for any entitlements. It's different when a spouse is married to a servicemember for 20 years or more during their active duty service. Surely this man has not fallen off the face of the earth. Have you contacted his family or friends? I wish I had more information that could help you or be more supportive. However, I wish you well and I hope you are okay given the circumstances. Please stay in touch with me with updates.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Dear Ms. Vicki,

My question may seem a bit odd: My parents have been married 50 years -- or had been. They are now both recently deceased. Dad (my stepfather, actually but we never used that term and I was 5 when they married) retired in 1971 as a full Colonel w/ 2 combat tours: Guadalcanal and Vietnam, with a stint as Chief of the Allied Staff in Berlin. He chose Survivor Benefits for Mother. They both relied on his Army pay for 45 years. He was very honorable and wanted to be a good "provider." Mother didn't work. They each had fairly small trust funds from previously deceased relatives. When they moved to a retirement facility in Dec 2004 (Mother had macular degeneration), Dad wanted to be her caregiver and called her "his last campaign." When their home was sold 6 months later, the proceeds were split 50/50. Then somehow it was decided by the lawyer (representing both of them) and one son for each, that they should continue to pay taxes as husband and wife, yet Dad would pay for his assisted living apartment from his pay and trust fund and house proceeds, and Mother would use only her money for her care. Dad spent every night in her nursing home room on a small couch a la "as though on maneuvers" They were both in mid 90's.  He got increasingly exhausted and at times very angry, naturally having relatively little sleep. My question is: without a written agreement and with Dad hollering "I pay for this room" and with them paying marital taxes, etc  how is it that Mother's monetary situation became dire while Dad's kept being replenished each year from military retirement pay? He NEVER would have agreed to such an arrangement, nor would she, especially after supporting her for 45 years of marriage. She relied on that financial support, and then when she became blind it was taken away.

As you can see, one side of the family benefitted to the detriment of the other. A very frustrating situation. Would you know what the pay was for a full colonel from 2004-2011? Mother died in Dec 2009 and for months afterwards Dad would say how he missed her every day. If he was "allowed" and encouraged to live in her very tiny nursing home room, why was she not allowed to stay upstairs in his apartment with a balcony and a kitchenette and a private bath, living room and bedroom and huge walk-in closet, with 24 hour care? He often took her to the bathroom at night and they'd both fall. I recognize this is long and drawn out and complicated, but Mother was very docile and polite and easy to manage. Her stress and trauma came from the facility letting him be her caregiver at age 95 and him benefitting totally from the joint pay and she having to pay for private duty to keep things from total chaos. Dad would often say to her: "Thank you for marrying me." Thank you for reading this story.

Sincerely,
Concerned Daughter

Dear Concerned Daughter,

It sounds like you had wonderful parents who loved each other tremendously. I understand your concerns but I'm trying to understand your questions. Are you concerned that your father was paying to live in both places, the nursing home and assisted living, when in actuality he was living in the nursing home with your mother? Like you I think it was inappropriate to have your father as your mother's caregiver if they were both frail and elderly. The pay for a COL from 2008-2011 was 8-9k a month. It changes every year but keep in mind this is based on years of service etc. You can find a pay scale on Military.com. Your question was also about your father's money being replenished while your mother's income decreased. It sounds like her money was used to pay for her nursing home care. I'm not sure if she also received Medicare but a nursing home facility can cost 8k or more per month, and that's for an average facility, nothing fancy. I'm not sure if we are speaking of the same thing, but my husband's grandmother was in a nursing home before she passed away, and paying for the care quickly depleted every bit of her savings. Finally, if this turns into a legal matter, I would contact an attorney for some advice about these issues. It could only help. Many offer free consultations too.

As you find out more please write me back again and let me know what you discover. I wish you well in 2012. Thank you so much for reading the column and for writing to me. Your support means a lot.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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