I-Team 10: Veterans benefits

Posted at: 09/03/2013 6:03 PM
Updated at: 10/18/2013 10:29 PM

Three decades in the Army and the Pentagon is telling a retired soldier he can't help his family the way he wants to. All he wants to do is transfer his GI college benefits to his daughter, who is a freshman at Brockport.

The retired soldier from Hamlin served three tours including Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs are telling him, 'no' because of a technicality. It is an issue that could affect all military families in our area.

The soldier is 60-years-old. He has no plans to go to college, so he just wants to take the benefits he has earned and give them to his daughter. But the Pentagon says, “No”, because he didn't do it at the right time.

Terry Cossey's military career is captured in hundreds of pictures. From the first time he enlisted right out of high school to his deployment in Afghanistan. After more than 30 years of active duty, all he wants to do is help his daughter.

Cossey said, “36 years of military service. Never a question asked. I was there everyday. I did the three deployments. I feel I've earned it.”

But because Cossey didn't transfer the benefits before he retired last year, the Pentagon says he can't do it.

News10NBC's Berkeley Brean said, “If you had the Secretary of Defense sitting across the table from you, what would you say to him?”

Terra Cossey, freshman at College at Brockport, said, “I would say look at the situation. I think he deserves this.”

Senator Charles Schumer said, “It does not seem fair.”

News10NBC took the issue to Senator Chuck Schumer. We told him what Terry Cossey said that no one told him he had to transfer benefits before he retired.

Senator Schumer said, “If you don't have notification, how are you supposed to know? If these veterans had been given notification before they retired, they might have done the transfer.”

It's not just Terry Cossey. One soldier posted in the comment section on the Pentagon's own website that he was never told that he would need to transfer his benefits prior to his retirement date. Another says he can't transfer the benefits because he didn't do it before he retired. A “despicable trick” he calls it.

Cossey said, “If anything comes of this, they'll explain to people when they leave the service their full range of benefits instead of, 'see ya, thanks.'”

Senator Schumer says his office is going to look into this. We have an email and phone call into the Department of Defense to get their response. We're still working on that.

Terry Cossey doesn't think the Pentagon is going to change its mind. He wanted to talk to News10NBC so that others know about the problem. So if you or someone in your family is active duty and wants to look into this, click here. We'll let you know if things change for Terry Cossey.