Only Surviving Son Fights for Veteran Rights

April 16, 2008 8:08:47 PM PDT
A Clovis family that lost two sons in Iraq is trying to help other honorably discharged sole survivors keep their medical and other benefits. Jason Hubbard, the only surviving son of Peggy and Jeff Hubbard, shared his tragic story in Washington D.C. about losing his two brothers in Iraq and then being honorably discharged from the Army under the "Sole Survivor" policy. Then, he says, came the ultimate betrayal from the military it stripped him of his medical benefits and made him repay thousands of dollars of his signing bonus. "When the military was denying me benefits because of a voluntary separation that somehow interprets that I have not fulfilled my obligation."At Wednesday's news conference to present what's being called the "Hubbard Act" California Senator Dianne Feinstein called the "Sole Survivor bill" deeply flawed and in need of changing. "He leaves as a sole survivor why should he have to give up his other benefits. I mean, how much can a family give? They've given so much."

Jason and his younger brother Nathan decided to join the army after their brother Jared was killed in Iraq. Last year Nathan died when his helicopter crashed in Kirkuk. On Capitol Hill, Hubbard stood next to Valley congressmen Devin Nunes and Jim Costa as they promoted the new bill. Hubbard is fighting to change the 60 year old "Sole Survivor" law so those honorably discharged as sole survivors will continue to get medical and mental health benefits and have access to the G.I. bill, which provides veterans with education benefits and guaranteed home loans. He said, "It's important to me that those that face this type of situation in the future have some type of coverage and ease and transition back into civilian life."

The secretary of the Army personally restored Jason's wife's health benefits, she was pregnant at the time and repaid his signing bonus. But Hubbard wasn't able to get his medical benefits or his G.I. bill restored. With nearly 250 members of Congress already supporting it, the bill is expected to pass quickly.