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A little over a year ago, I wrote a letter to the editor to express my dismay with a new road fee imposed by Aiken County on 100 percent disabled veterans. The fee was $15 per vehicle.

Because of my disability status, the state graciously exempted my two vehicles from being taxed, but the county came up with a new plan to generate money. Considering that we hadn’t received a cost-of-living raise for two years, I felt that it put an undue burden on those of us who sacrificed our lives and health for our country.

I wrote to state Sen. Greg Ryberg and received a positive response, saying that he would support an exemption for us veterans. I also contacted a friend of mine, K.T. Ruthven, Aiken’s executive committeeman for the South Carolina Republican Party. I told him I sent two emails to my district representative, Democrat Kathy Rawls, only to be ignored. Being an independent voter who has written many letters against the Democrats, I suspect why she didn’t respond, even though in my mind she should represent all of the people, all of the time.

I asked K.T. if there was someone in the county whom I could contact, and he referred me to Councilman Gary Bunker. I sent numerous emails to Gary over the past year and always got a response. The processes was long and drawn-out, but the results are what counts.

I contacted Gary recently to find out if the county made any decision to give us veterans an exemption, and was told it finally passed Oct. 18.

I want to thank Greg, Gary and the council board members who decided in our favor. I appreciate their service.

Gregory J. Topliff

Warrenville, S.C.

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TParty
6003
Points
TParty 11/14/11 - 08:52 am
2
0
I'm a Vet myself, who could

I'm a Vet myself, who could claim disability, however some friends never made it back, others lost their hands and another his toes- so I didn't think it's fair I collect money for my minor injuries and lost of hearing. I most certainly would not have 100% disability.

With that said: Why do you need two vehicles exempted?

There is a real problem with the benefits us veterans get. There is this one guy I work with who spent 20 years in service, retiring only a few years ago. Not one did he ever deploy. Never been to war. Somehow he has 100% disability (He still works of course, works just fine), some of it for PTSD. I think some of his other disability is for sleep apnea. Not sure how the Army should be on the hook for that. Another guy I work with (We are all vets, my co-workers and I) get money from the VA and some disability because he has heart burn. We are paying for this guy to get money in his pocket, and free medical care because of heart burn, which he admits is caused from drinking. Not from serving our country, but from drinking.

There's a lot of abuse and waste from the military, these benefits being one of them. It takes away from our bothers and sisters that actually need care, and it hurts our nation by adding a financial strain. Obviously we need to take care of those who need it, but I've seen way more fraud waste and abuse in my years.

A lot of people have not seen a cost of living raise, and even more have lost jobs. Being a Vet myself, I use to the roads. And if the letter has two vehicles, you know he uses the roads. Not sure why two vehicles should be exempt. One of course, especially if it's modified to accommodate real disabilities, but I can't justify two.

I don't think it's fair and honest to say "I served and sacrificed for my country, so give me money." when it's not justified. It's not in the Army values to take advantage and abuse the systems in place to help those who actually need it.

augusta citizen
9099
Points
augusta citizen 11/14/11 - 11:12 am
2
0
Thank you TParty. Your

Thank you TParty. Your comments would not have held the weight they do if they had not come from a fellow Veteran. I know several "disabled" veterans who are in no way disabled. They spent years getting the disabled status for no reason other than freebies. It does take much away from those who are truly disabled.

Gregory J. Topliff
53
Points
Gregory J. Topliff 11/15/11 - 01:22 am
0
2
GOOD-BYE................

GOOD-BYE................

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 11/14/11 - 03:12 pm
1
0
I'll say this Mr. Topliff- I

I'll say this Mr. Topliff-

I didn't fight in Vietnam, where over 58,000 US service member were KIA, and well over 300,000 were physically wounded in action. I fought in Afghanistan, where everything is different. I've spent so long in Afghanistan, I'm not sure what to do this Thanksgiving, since I'll actually be home for it, the first since 2002. By no means will I ever try to equate WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq- I'm just trying to illustrate I'm not some ignorant, or some miserable malcontent.

With that said, I want to emphasis a sentence I wrote earlier "Obviously we need to take care of those who need it". Clearly, you are one who needs it- and by 'it', I mean the medical care. All of it, whatever you need. That's also my view for all the first responders of 9/11, they should all get the medical care required to help them, and ease their suffering.

What I'm not for, are the folks who take advantage of the system. Did you know, just being a paratrooper I could have received up to 15% of disability, even though I've never had a bad landing? Not only was I paid extra ($250 a month) to jump out of planes during my career, to include retaining jump pay while deployed even though that would never happen, they wanted to pay me 15% disability for the rest of my life. Of course I turned it down, because I don't need it, and it takes away from people like yourself. People who struggle to get the care they need. A lot of people take the money however, people who do not need it. It's free money, my father tells me I'm an idiot for not taking it, along with other money and free care.

I think it's wrong how easily free money and care can be given to myself, and is given to others who do not need it- while others like yourself, and others who are truly injured from today's wars struggle. From my understanding with asking these questions to the VA, they do this today because of people in your situation. They rather side on the error of everyone getting it, to include those who don't need it, if it means people like yourself don't have to incur additional battles with paperwork.

As for another matter, you said "Making ends meet is tuff because I can’t work under the table or in a job. Getting a break on taxes or road fees helps me and those like me survive." First off, I support you getting any breaks you need with fees, parking, and taxes on one vehicle, but not two.

If we take your sentence as a stand alone "Making ends meet is tuff because I can’t work under the table or in a job. Getting a break on taxes or road fees helps me and those like me survive." and apply it to others- You'll see you won't get any sympathy here. It's the cold hard facts. You can read the editorial today, 'A Huge Step Back' where they write "...as we watch the crumbling of the social welfare state in Europe, it appears many Americans don’t want to be spared the same fate." They are talking about the breaks and benefits people receive, like your exemption of the road fees.

A while ago a wounded disabled veteran was not allowed to put a modified home in Evans because it did not meet HOA rules. I did not agree with that. It sparked a lot of passion because it was a disabled vet, however Austin Rhodes and others spoke at great lengths, basically saying "You'll have others wanting the same, you can't put Vets on a pedal stool otherwise to rules and foundations start to collapse with everyone wanting exemptions."

I'll just finish by saying thanks for your service, our generation has learned a lot from the work you and millions have done, and you're not forgotten.

Jake
32320
Points
Jake 11/14/11 - 05:05 pm
1
0
I have been encouraged by a

I have been encouraged by a fellow Vietnam War friend to get the VA to give me disability money because I served in a area that had high levels of Agent Orange. He took the money but I am not going to. As far as I know I do not have any disabilities associated with my military service and there are plenty of thieves already on the take I'm sure.
I think TParty stated it pretty well and Mr Topliff sounds like he is entitled to the benefits that he is getting but I hate to hear that he had to fight the VA in order to get them.

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