On Memorial Day the nation focused on honoring those who gave their lives to secure our freedoms. Of course, we shouldn’t just remember their contribution one day a year – we should do so every day.
It is in that spirit that I’ve made constituent service my top priority in representing the good people of Idaho. We handle about 1,000 cases a year; the largest proportion of those are advocacy for veterans. Since 2014 we have recovered over $3.5 million in veterans’ benefits.
Sometimes the problem is life threatening. Charles Saxton of Hayden, a 73-year-old Army veteran, was down to a single day’s supply of the insulin he needs to treat his diabetes and was having trouble filling his prescription. A few hours after my staff reached the VA, Mr. Saxton scheduled a doctor’s appointment and obtained his medication.
For Jodi Craig of Caldwell, a mix-up put years of hard work at risk. Jodi’s husband, Brandon, was killed in action in Iraq, and his GI Bill benefits helped with Jodi’s tuition, books and other expenses. Unfortunately, the VA mistakenly said the benefits had lapsed. My staff intervened and in just two weeks her support was restored. The great news is Jodi is on track to get her degree in business administration in August.
John Oakland of Kamiah is a Vietnam helicopter pilot who defaulted on a VA home loan in 1991. His father handled the details and assured him everything was OK. Last year, without warning, John’s small monthly VA disability check stopped coming. John’s father had died, the records were unavailable and John wasn’t having any luck with the VA. Finally, he called my office and we helped obtain a waiver forgiving the debt and restoring his benefit.
From Boundary to Owyhee County and every place in between, Idahoans know my office provides professional and dedicated support.
My staff – Tori Shockey, Bev Jensen and Haline Anderson in Meridian, Judy Morbeck in Coeur d’Alene and Scott Carlton in Lewiston – take great pride in their work. Scott always goes the extra mile for veterans. In addition to helping 95-year-old Gordy Ashcraft obtain his World War II medals, Scott also cooked, ran errands and picked up medical supplies for Gordy.
We don’t just help veterans. We’re ready to unravel the red tape at any federal agency, including the Social Security Administration regarding retirement benefits and the State Department on securing passports and visas.
Sheila Schneider of Eagle lost both her parents. Her father, a federal retiree, died first. Sheila spent months navigating the bureaucracy to obtain her mother’s survivor’s benefit, without success. With our help, she received a small payment that helped defray her mother’s funeral expenses.
Joyce and Vincent Hamm of Hayden endured a nightmare with the IRS, after sending their 2015 tax payment to the wrong address. The government cashed the check, but their account wasn’t credited. After my office got involved, the accounting was corrected, the IRS waived a $1,700 penalty and the threat of tax liens ended.
In a letter to the Coeur d’Alene Press, the Hamms wrote, “If you have a problem with any agency of the federal government, don’t hesitate to contact your congressman. They can help you put an end to your nightmare.”
No matter how big or small the problem, my commitment is serving Idahoans. If you or someone you know needs help at the federal level, please contact my office. We are alwaysavailable online or phone one of my offices: Meridian, 888-3188; Lewiston, 743-1388; Coeur d’Alene, 667-0127.