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Michigan veteran to receive tens of thousands of dollars of military benefits after Rep. Kildee and Sen. Durbin partner to fix bureaucratic failure

Statement

Date: Dec. 17, 2019

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, along with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that a Flint-native and decorated Navy veteran, Retired Senior Chief Russell Dotson, will receive tens of thousands of dollars of G.I. Bill higher education benefits owed to his family after the U.S. Navy wrongly denied this assistance because of a bureaucratic paperwork mistake.

The Acting Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Thomas Modly, has indicated to Congressman Kildee, Senator Durbin, and Retired Chief Dotson that the Navy will provide him with full reimbursement and allow him to transfer his military G.I. bill benefits to his daughter, Paige Dotson. These benefits, which Retired Chief Dotson earned after over 22 years of service, are worth tens of thousands of dollars and are intended to cover an entire college education.

Earlier this month, Congressman Kildee and Senator Durbin, along with other members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, sent a letter to the Acting Secretary of the Navy regarding bureaucratic failures at the Department that resulted in Retired Senior Chief Russell Dotson being denied the military education benefits he earned. Both Kildee and Durbin also had telephone calls with the Acting Secretary of the Navy in recent days to discuss Retired Senior Chief Dotson's case.

"I am pleased that the U.S. Navy acted swiftly to fix Retired Senior Chief Dotson's case and make sure that his family receives the military benefits he earned," Congressman Kildee said. "Retired Senior Chief Dotson served our country for 22 years and did everything right, yet because of a bureaucratic failure was denied his military education benefits. I commend the Acting Secretary of the Navy for acting quickly on this case," Congressman Kildee said.

"Mr. Dotson's GI Bill benefits were wrongly pulled from him because of an error by the Navy. Because of this, the Secretary of the Navy came to my office to tell me they were going to make this right for Mr. Dotson and his family. I'm glad there is a good ending to this that restores Mr. Dotson's hard-earned benefits," Senator Durbin said.

Retired Senior Chief Dotson served 22 years in the U.S. Navy, in both active duty and the reserves. After being counseled by the Navy that he could transfer his G.I. Bill benefits to his daughter, Paige Dotson, Retired Senior Chief Dotson retired from the Navy. When his daughter began her university studies at DePaul University in Chicago, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) initially began paying her tuition and housing benefits as a part of the G.I. Bill, only later to rescind the G.I. Bill after it determined the Navy miscalculated Dotson's transfer eligibility date by days. In addition, the VA demanded that the Dotson family repay more than $20,000 in benefits, including interest, resulting in further hardship for the family.

Congressman Kildee's office is open for assisting constituents with help related to federal agencies. Since being elected to Congress, he has helped hundreds of constituents who believed they were being treated unfairly. If you need help resolving a problem with a federal agency, please contact Congressman Dan Kildee's office through his website, www.dankildee.house.gov, or by calling 810-238-8627.


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