My brother-in-law, George D. Lazarus died. That kind of news can be sad or happy, depending on one’s relationship with a brother-in-law. It is official though. George was declared dead April 7, 2013, by the Veterans Administration. It can’t be more official than that. His death set administrative procedures in motion canceling his VA disability benefit and military retirement pay. Next, George’s bank account was frozen. The government then withdrew thousands of dollars to recoup money paid to George before it learned he was dead. His medical benefits stopped. A military hospital cannot be expected to provide health benefits to a dead man.
George’s story is similar to thousands of military personnel who died after completing their career. In fact, this story is not worth writing, except for one small detail. George is not dead. He was declared dead by a VA administrator pushing a button on a computer without the benefit of common sense.
George is alive. That kind of news can be happy or sad, depending on one’s relationship with a brother-in-law. It is official though. My brother-in-law sat at our table on Thanksgiving Day. No, we did not prop him up; he sat and conversed with us.
George, who was out of country while he was being killed off by the VA, did not learn of his own death until he started catching up on his mail towards the end of June.
I thought George might have some fun if he played along with the government snafu. He could sit in the back of the church, like Tom Sawyer, and watch his own funeral. George could lay in a coffin and pop up right in the middle of a hymn and yell, “Surprise!”. He could visit government offices with his poor widow and ask endless inane questions regarding her survivor benefits. George could easily explain away his presence by telling the officials he was a ghost.
We think the crux of the problem relates to the fact that his father, George O. Lazarus, died on April 7, 2013. Sloppy handwriting can confuse the look of those middle initials, “O” and “D”.
George did not warm up to my fun ideas, but instead concentrated on trying to prove that he was alive.
You would think proving you are alive would be simple for a guy who is alive. The government process ended up somewhere between complicated and impossible.
When George reached out for help, he was told by numerous agencies they could not or would not help document that he was alive. Apparently, they were not use to helping ghosts. George contacted the Veterans Administration, Department of Defense Finance and Accounting Services, Lakewood Police Department, Washington State Patrol – Olympia Detachment, Washington State Patrol – Identification Section, American Legion, Veterans Administration Police, FBI, and Lacey Police Department.
George had proof of his identity in the form of retired military photo ID, Washington State photo drivers license, photo passport, fingerprints; plus he was standing and breathing right in front of them.
Lakewood Police refused to help since they had never helped a dead guy before.
The Washington State Patrol – Identification Section told him they could not help him because George lacks a criminal record. The identification section only helps protect the rights of criminals. George offered to punch the WSP staff member in the face in order to start a brand new criminal record so WSP would be comfortable documenting that he was alive. WSP did not embrace George’s creative problem solving suggestion.
Ultimately, Lacey Police Department issued a letter confirming that George D. Lazarus was alive. The letter allowed George to submit what is officially referred to as resurrection documentation. That solved his problem.
On September 4, 2013, George was resurrected from the dead. The last time I heard about a resurrection was during my religion studies and that resurrection took place on April 6, 33 AD.
This is a true story, but the names have been changed to protect the living and the dead.