MADISON, Wis. — An 81-year-old Army veteran from Madison wants the government to know he's alive and well, despite its information to the contrary.
Kenneth Brunner's wife, Julie, received a letter Monday from the U.S. Veterans Benefits Administration, expressing sympathy for his passing and directing her not to cash any more benefits checks. Kenneth Brunner said he tried to call the agency Tuesday to deliver a few choice words, but the office was closed for Veterans Day.
Brunner receives a monthly disability check because of serious injuries he received in 1955 while in the Army, he said. He was injured at a Texas Air Force base when a cable snapped on a piece of heavy equipment and struck him, the State Journal reported.
"It broke me up pretty bad," Brunner said. "For the first few days in the hospital they told me they didn't know if I was going to live or die."
The letter from the agency said Julie Brunner could cash the check issued for the month in which her husband died, but none that may have been issued after that. It also said the agency would contribute $300 for funeral expenses.
"We are sorry to learn about the death of KENNETH BRUNNER and extend to you our deepest sympathy," the letter reads. "We understand that the transition period following the death of a loved one is difficult and we wish to offer our assistance and our appreciation for the honorable service of KENNETH BRUNNER."
Craig Larson, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regional office in Chicago, said the error will be fixed. He said he wasn't sure how often similar letters have been sent out to veterans who are still alive.
"I do not have an exact number, but it occurs infrequently due to human error, such as incorrect data entry," Larson said.
Brunner said he planned to try contacting the government again on Wednesday.
"I'm going to set them straight," Brunner said. "I'm sure as hell alive."