Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Iraq Veteran Abandoned By Maine Government Helped By Strangers

Donors pledge $20,000 to support veteran who was denied disability retirement
Bangor Daily News

By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff
May 18, 2016

Scott served in the Army Reserves with the 94th Military Police Company in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, for what would become the second-longest deployment of any U.S. military unit since World War II, including 15 months in combat zones such as the notoriously violent “Sunni Triangle.”
Courtesy of Sandra Mason. Scott and Darcie Couture with their two sons at Togus Pond, July 2005, the first summer after Scott returned from Iraq.
BRUNSWICK, Maine — Family, friends and soldiers who served with Iraq war veteran Scott Couture offered more than words of consolation when they learned in April that the Maine Public Employees Retirement System again denied disability retirement benefits he sought after post-traumatic stress disorder prompted him to leave his job as a Maine Marine Patrol warden.

But even as Scott and his wife, Darcie Couture, prepared to tell their two teenage sons that with mounting medical and legal bills, they couldn’t afford the mortgage on the old farmhouse they called home, Darcie’s brother launched a GoFundMe fundraiser that, as of Wednesday morning, has brought in nearly $21,000.

Last week, as the fund neared the $10,000 mark that triggered an anonymous matching donation, Darcie said they were overwhelmed though equally uncomfortable accepting the money.

“But to be perfectly honest, it will make the difference between us keeping the house [and not],” she said.

The Veterans Administration determined Scott is 80 percent disabled and provides him benefits. But in December 2014, the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, or MePERS, which Scott paid into as a marine patrol employee instead of Social Security, denied Scott’s application for retirement because of disability, despite acknowledging he suffers from PTSD.
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