Vintage Vicki: Adult Children Demand Support From Military Dads

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I really need help. I've been trying to find information on what I can do about my father. He has been active-duty Navy for 16 years and counting. He never did anything for me.

I'm 24 years old now. Is there anything I'm entitled to since I'm his firstborn child? 

He is married and has two kids by his wife. She had a son before they got married.

I have talked to my father. Our relationship is far from being father and son. He calls me "dude" instead of "son."

My mom filed for child support, but they never served him the papers. She said it had something to do with him being in the Navy. Is there anything I can do about this?

Sincerely,
Trey

Dear Trey,

I'm sorry to hear that your father has never provided any financial or emotional support to you over the years. From your report, I don't think your mother really had a child support order.

Certainly, there are many sailors who pay child support regardless of their duty station or if they are on sea duty.

You deserved a supportive father, but at 24, you must realize that we don't always get what we deserve. You can't press "rewind and play" to go back in time and re-do anything.

Truth is, you are an adult now and responsible for yourself. Your father may never "do right" by you. Please know that your father is missing out!

One day, your father could wish he had the love and respect of his oldest son. I hope you are doing something great with your life because it is truly the best message you can send to your father.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

******

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My father served in the military and has been drawing benefits for some time now. I'm 38 and the outside child, but he has four other children.

I'm not sure if my father claimed me or not because I never received any allotments. How can I go about it to see if he did? Am I entitled to any back pay or anything? Please help me.

Sincerely,
The Outside Child

Dear Outside Child,

Why do you refer to yourself as the "outside" child? Does this mean you are less important? I hope you know that you should be cherished and adored just like the children who were born in marriage.

So let me get to your question. If you had a military ID card, then your father acknowledged you were his child by enrolling you in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) so that you could receive health care and other services.

It also means he was claiming you for his military pay purposes. In other words, he was being paid "with dependents." However, that pay is the same whether he had one child or 10 children.

None of your father's current benefits or entitlements is based on adult children. The benefits would be for your father, his spouse or any minor children.

I am not a lawyer, but I don't think you have any military entitlements. You should definitely pose this question to someone at your local legal aid society.

I understand that even in adulthood a person can still have feelings of abandonment from an absent parent. I hope you are taking good care of yourself and are surrounded by people who love you.

Being rejected by a parent can be emotionally painful. It's important that you keep moving forward. As hard as it is, you cannot allow yourself to get stuck.

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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