VA's letter offers sympathies for death of veteran who's very much alive

Retired US Army Sgt. James Fales explains


A disabled Army veteran’s wife received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs this month extending its sympathies on the death of her husband, James Fales.

The problem? James Fales was the one who opened the letter.

“At first, it was kind of a shock; then it became humorous, to a point,” Fales, who served 11 years in the military and retired as a sergeant, told “Fox & Friends” Sunday.

The VA letter, dated Jan. 8, 2015, to Dee Fales was meant to offer condolences and to include information about death benefits and burial expenses that will be covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, KFSM-TV reported.


When James Fales called the VA to alert them about the error, “They asked to verify who I was calling about, and I told them ‘By the way, this is me!'” Fales said. “And the only response I got on the phone was, ‘Oh boy.’ So now they are processing me to put me back as alive in the VA system.”

During the interview with “Fox & Friends,” Fales said that while the benefits division of the VA had him listed as deceased, the VA health care system had him very much alive.

“Since the government says I’m dead now, can I stop paying taxes?”

- James Fales

“I was still making doctors’ appointments,” said Fales, who is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and an ankle injury, according to KFSM.

Fales is unsure how the mixup may impact his medical care and says he and his wife are optimistic the VA will fix the error.

The Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks issued the following statement, according to KFSM:

“We do apologize and regret that this error has occurred, and want to reassure our Veterans that we will work diligently to assist them in any way we are able to in order to resolve the issue.”

Being listed as dead hasn’t killed Fales’ sense of humor, however.

“Since the government says I’m dead now, can I stop paying taxes?” he joked.