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Veterans

Thank you to our Veterans

By | Other, Special Events, Veterans | No Comments

Today is Veterans Day.  Dan and I are veterans of the Vietnam era.  He was an Air Force navigator, and I was in the Navy JAG Corp.  While our experiences were very different, we are both proud to have served.  We are especially humbled to know many service members who have given a very significant portion of their lives, and even some, their very lives, to serve our nation.

 Veterans day was first instituted as Armistice Day, remembering the armistice of World War I, which began on 11/11/18, at ll:00 a.m.  It was later expanded to honor the veterans of all wars.  I join with you in offering appreciation to all who have served in the armed services, and to those who still serve.

 Veterans’ service is not only to our nation.  It is for peace, security and prosperity throughout the world.  It is on behalf of the most noted to the very humblest of all of God’s children.  Those who have served in harm’s way deserve our most reverent respect.

 As I have lived around and associated with service members, I have become more appreciative of the great service their families render.  Military families get uprooted frequently.  As the service members are away on assignment, spouses double parenting efforts; children have to make great compensations for the absence of a parent; parents and siblings and boyfriends and girlfriends have greater cares and concerns, and their lives are significantly altered.

 I am thrilled with acts of consideration and appreciation for service members that I witness at airports and other public places.  I am touched to hear prayers for the protection and well-being of faithful women and men who serve in dangerous and trying circumstances.  I join in my private contemplation and prayers, the supplication for the families who have lost the companionship of our troops for a time, or even permanently.

 I wish there were an armistice from all military conflicts.  I wish there were an armistice from social and political conflicts.  I wish that the toils, sacrifices, blood and very lives of veterans would bring immediate peace,  understanding and unity to people everywhere.  I am unlikely to ever realize these wishes, but we can all make a greater effort to bring unity and peace into our daily encounters, which could eventually expand to regional, national and international progress.

 Thank you, to all veterans, to veterans’ families and friends, and to all who seek the peace and security of all our fellow beings.

Estate Planning, Attorney, Lawyer, Mesa, Scottsdale, PhoenixContributed by MH Mesa, Phoenix and Scottsdale Estate Planning Attorney and Partner Theron M Hall JR.

About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.  We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Remembering on November 11th

By | Holidays, Other, Seminar announcement, Veterans | No Comments

Ever since the Declaration of Independence was set forth in 1776, there have been brave and dedicated men and women who have come forward and raised the banner of freedom.  From those early days, there has been a need for individuals to stand up and provide protection of this nation from those who would take that freedom away.  The statement that freedom is not free continues to ring forth to this day.  It is not trite or trivial; it is true, correct and bold.

There are many who over the years have given much to insure that we remain free.  Some have given all; many have lost limbs; and others have suffered emotional and physical wounds and scars.  Everyone who enjoys the freedom provided to us to this very day should give thanks for those who went before us and those who are among us today who have made this possible.

To protect those truths spoken of by our forefathers as self-evident, there will always be the need for brave and gallant men and women to come forward at the risk to body, limb and mind.  The 11th of November has been set for us to give thanks to those who are willing to do that.  May we always remember and be grateful to them by showing the respect they have earned in serving this nation, truly the greatest of all nations on this earth.

The words of the Declaration of Independence ..."that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,"  shall always be with us when there are gallant individuals who step forward.

Dan_Morris_176x216Contributed by MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Senior Partner Dan R Morris.

About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.  We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Benefits When a Veteran Passes Away

By | Veterans | No Comments

The Veteran’s Administration offers an expansive array of benefits to veterans.  They even offer benefits once the veteran has passed away.  Two common burial benefits available in Arizona and New Mexico are as follows:

The VA will provide reimbursement for some veterans’ funeral and burial expenses.  The maximum reimbursement will not, in most cases, cover the entire amount; however, it does defray some of the cost.  The types of allowable expenses even include the cost of the final resting place of the remains.  If the veteran’s death occurred as a result of a service-connected disability, the burial allowance is much higher.  In most cases a claim for this benefit must be filed within two years of the date of the veteran’s death.

Veterans can be laid to rest in a veteran cemetery.  The most famous of these is Arlington National.  While most veterans are unable to be buried in Arlington, they can be buried in other federal veteran cemeteries or even state-run veteran cemeteries.  In Arizona, we have the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery, National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, and Prescott National Cemetery.  Eligible spouses and dependents may also be buried in these cemeteries.

To obtain the benefits enumerated above, a person must submit an application to the VA (forms are available online) with a copy of the veteran’s death certificate as well as a copy of the veteran’s discharge paperwork.

MHWhy Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall?  First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters.  Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones.  We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership.  If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

If You Are a Wartime Veteran in Arizona or New Mexico, There May Be Special Benefits for You

By | Veterans | No Comments

I met with a Mesa, Arizona client recently whose father served our country during World War II. The client explained to me that his father and mother had worked their whole lives and had been very frugal with their money with the hopes that one day they could leave behind a legacy for their kids and grandkids. His father is 90 years old now and living in a care facility.  They are paying about $6500 a month for the cost of care and are running out of his assets very quickly.  The thought of seeing his entire estate depleted on long term care is heartbreaking to his father.

They had met with an attorney that had convinced them to gift dad’s home to his two kids, so that dad could qualify for public benefits. The attorney had also created an irrevocable trust for dad and he was the beneficiary of all of the income from the trust during his lifetime.

The sad part is that had the client come in to see us before he met with this other attorney we could have preserved a lot of dad’s estate and qualified him for public benefits such as VA Aid and Attendance benefits and Medicaid benefits.  Unfortunately, we see this all too often, where the damage has already been done and there is nothing left for us to do but offer our condolences.

If you are a war time veteran or you know of someone that is, and they have a long term care issue it is imperative that you get good legal counsel as to what your rights are and how you can qualify for public benefits.  Sometimes when you plan one way to receive certain public benefits you can severely impede your ability to receive other public benefits that can amount to significant benefit dollars.

In order to assist veterans with receiving veterans pension benefits you have to be accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The law firm of Morris Hall has attorneys that are accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs and have assisted many clients with receiving public benefits.

Call 888.222.1328 today to schedule a free consultation and see how MH can assist you!

Estate Planning, Attorney, Lawyer, Arrowhead, Prescott, FlagstaffContributed by MH VA Accredited Estate Planning Attorney David T. Eastman

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:

The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Available Benefits in Arizona and New Mexico After a Veteran Passes Away

By | Veterans | No Comments

The Veteran's Administration offers an expansive array of benefits to veterans. They even offer benefits once the veteran has passed away. Two common burial benefits available in Arizona and New Mexico are as follows:

The VA will provide reimbursement for some veterans' funeral and burial expenses. The maximum reimbursement will not, in most cases, cover the entire amount; however, it does defray some of the cost. The types of allowable expenses even include the cost of the final resting place of the remains. If the veteran's death occurred as a result of a service-connected disability, the burial allowance is much higher. In most cases a claim for this benefit must be filed within two years of the date of the veteran's death.

Veterans can be laid to rest in a veteran cemetery. The most famous of these is Arlington National. While most veterans are unable to be buried in Arlington, they can be buried in other federal veteran cemeteries or even state-run veteran cemeteries. In Arizona, we have the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery, National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, and Prescott National Cemetery. Eligible spouses and dependents may also be buried in these cemeteries.

To obtain the benefits enumerated above, a person must submit an application to the VA (forms are available online) with a copy of the veteran's death certificate as well as a copy of the veteran's discharge paperwork.

Morris Hall cannot help with VA Benefits, but can certainly refer you to someone who can help!

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100's of years of combined experience ensuring that families' assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

Katherine O'Connell

Contributed by attorney Katherine A. O'Connell

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Benefits for Veterans and Widows of Veterans in Arizona and New Mexico

By | Veterans | No Comments

Do you know a veteran, or widow of a veteran, who is struggling to pay for his or her long term care expenses? The Department of Veterans Affairs has a VA Pension Program to help wartime veterans, and widows of wartime veterans, pay for their long term care expenses, provided they meet certain criteria, by providing them with a cash benefit. To apply for the benefit, the veteran, or widow of a veteran, must submit an application to the VA.

The Pension Program has four primary requirements. The first is the military criteria. The veteran must have served ninety consecutive days on Active Duty with at least one day occurring during a War Time Period as set by Congress. If the veteran served during the Gulf War, the service requirement is twenty four consecutive months. The veteran must have received a discharge other than dishonorable.

The second requirement is that the veteran, or widow of a veteran, must need assistance. The level of cash benefit is determined by the level of medical need.

The third requirement is that the veteran, or widow of a veteran, cannot have sufficient means to self-pay for long term care expenses. The VA does not give a set dollar amount as to how much money a veteran may have and still qualify for the Pension Program. In most cases, the veteran must have $80,000 or less. Additionally, the older a veteran is, the less the VA states the veteran may have in order to qualify for the benefit.

The last requirement has to do with income. Unlike Medicaid, the VA does not have an income cap that the veteran must be below. The veteran's gross income cannot exceed the maximum family income limits. The VA looks at the veteran's gross income minus permissible medical expense deductions (such as assisted living facility, in-home care services, nursing home expenses..etc).

To determine the cash benefit from the Pension Program, the VA subtracts the veteran's income (less permissible medical expense deductions) from the level cash benefit. For more information on this program, please visit the Veteran Affairs website at www.vba.va.gov or call Morris Hall at 888.222.1328 to speak with one of our VA accredited attorneys regarding your eligibility.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100's of years of combined experience ensuring that families' assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down. The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

Contributed by MH attorney Katherine A. O'Connell

Similar Articles:

Are You A Veteran That May Be Entitled To Pension Benefits?

Aid & Attendance: Special Care Pension for Wartime Veterans

Thank You to the Veterans!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.
Incapacitation

Are You a Veteran That May Be Entitled To Pension Benefits?

By | Veterans | No Comments

I met with a Mesa, Arizona client recently whose father served our country during World War II. The client explained to me that his father and mother had worked their whole lives and had been very frugal with their money with the hopes that one day they could leave behind a legacy for their kids and grandkids. His father is 90 years old now and living in a care facility. They are paying about $6500 a month for the cost of care and are running out of his assets very quickly. The thought of seeing his entire estate depleted on long term care is heartbreaking to his father.

They had met with an attorney that had convinced them to gift dad's home to his two kids, so that dad could qualify for public benefits. The attorney had also created an irrevocable trust for dad and he was the beneficiary of all of the income from the trust during his lifetime.

The sad part is that had the client come in to see us before he met with this other attorney we could have preserved a lot of dad's estate and qualified him for public benefits such as VA Aid and Attendance benefits and Medicaid benefits. Unfortunately, we see this all too often, where the damage has already been done and there is nothing left for us to do but offer our condolences.

If you are a war time veteran or you know of someone that is, and they have a long term care issue it is imperative that you get good legal counsel as to what your rights are and how you can qualify for public benefits. Sometimes when you plan one way to receive certain public benefits you can severely impede your ability to receive other public benefits that can amount to significant benefit dollars.

In order to assist veterans with receiving veterans pension benefits you have to be accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The law firm of Morris Hall has attorneys that are accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs and have assisted many clients with receiving public benefits.

Call 888.222.1328 today to schedule a free consultation and see how MH can assist you!

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100's of years of combined experience ensuring that families' assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down. The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

Contributed by MH attorney David T. Eastman

Similar Articles:

A Thank You To The Veterans!

Aid & Attendance: Special Care Pension for Wartime Veterans

Medicaid & Life Insurance: Can You Past Financial Planning Jeopardize Your Eligibility?

Helping Your Parents Age Gracefully

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation. 

Aid & Attendance: Special Care Pension for Wartime Veterans - Part 2

By | Veterans | No Comments

This is the second half of a 2-part article.  To read the first half, click here.

APPLYING FOR BENEFITS

Gathering and preparing the right documents is critical. Once you gather the right documentation, the next step is to complete and submit the appropriate application form.

The process generally takes four to six months, so make sure you do your best to avoid any additional delays along the way.

Keep in mind, while applying and qualifying does take time, benefit payments are retroactive to the date the VA received the application. During this time, the applicant must be actually incurring the costs of care. Time is of the essence and an incorrect application will create a nightmare of expense and uncertainty.

Important Note: If you are applying on behalf of a parent who is incapacitated, you will need to complete additional paperwork. Without this paperwork you will not be allowed to deal with the VA on behalf of your parent. If you wish to receive benefits on their behalf as a fiduciary, you will have to be interviewed and approved by the VA. The VA does not recognize Powers of Attorney they have not approved.

CALCULATING THE BENEFITS

The Aid & Attendance monthly pension benefit amounts are based on a simple formula:

Total income minus cost of unreimbursed care costs.

The formula is simple, but determining your actual benefit amount can be complicated.

It is not easy to calculate the actual benefit unless you are an expert. It is highly recommended that you work with a qualified benefits consultant.

In general terms, the VA will evaluate the applicant's assets and income against the total cost of care. (That's why documenting all care expenses is so critical.) If the veteran has significant assets or a monthly income over the program limits, they may not qualify for Aid & Assistance. Roughly speaking, if an individual or couple has assets - not including their home, automobiles, and personal property - over $80,000, qualifying may be difficult. However, it is no longer possible to assure a Vet that he/she can qualify for benefits if his assets are below a certain amount. The asset threshold depends upon the age and life expectancy of the applicant (and spouse) and the ratio of health-related expenses to income and is to some degree discretionary with the VA caseworker. But an experienced benefits consultant can help to make a highly educated guess about how much the Vet can have.

With proper planning in advance, making qualifying gifts and setting up appropriate trusts can effectively reduce a veteran's asset worth. Just keep in mind that giving away assets can affect eligibility for Medicaid benefits. Our office can help coordinate estate planning, VA considerations, and Medicaid considerations to limit risk and maximize benefits.

CONCLUSION

If you or your loved one meets the requirements, the Aid & Assistance Pension Benefit could provide thousands of dollars each year to meet medical expenses and provide necessary care.

But the application process is complicated and time-consuming. For some people, reallocating assets and shifting income may be necessary - and those reallocations could have a significant impact on Medicaid eligibility, whether now or in the future.

Schedule an appointment with our office to get professional, experienced assistance. Our office can help you gather the required documentation and complete the required paperwork. We can help coordinate the Aid & Assistance application, guide you through potential Medicaid issues, and create or modify your existing estate plan to ensure a veteran receives all the benefits he or she has earned by service to our country.

About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, powers of attorney, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation. 

Aid & Attendance: Special Care Pension for Wartime Veterans - Part 1

By | Veterans | No Comments

While many people are unaware it exists, the Veterans Administration (VA) Aid & Attendance Special Pension provides monetary assistance to wartime veterans - and surviving spouses of deceased veterans - who need regular personal assistance. Qualifying aid or assistance can be provided at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home, and can be provided by friends, family members, or healthcare professionals.

Currently, the Aid & Attendance pension can provide up to $1,703 per month to an unmarried veteran, $1,094 per month to a surviving spouse, or $2,019 per month for a veteran who is married and $1,337 per month where the spouse of a married veteran needs care.

Best of all, if the veteran qualifies, Aid & Attendance funds are provided in addition to monthly pension and Social Security benefits.

If you or someone you love is a veteran and needs help with daily activities like cooking, cleaning, dressing, driving, mobility, or other assistance, the Aid & Attendance benefit can provide the funds needed to pay for that help. Many elderly veterans and surviving spouses whose incomes are above the congressionally-mandated legal limit for a VA pension may still be eligible for monthly Aid & Attendance benefits if they have high expenses for care, including nursing home expenses, that are not reimbursed by insurance or other sources. There are also some estate planning methods that can help increase your changes of qualifying for additional VA assistance.

Aid & Attendance benefits can make a real difference but, filing a claim can be complex and time-consuming. Like most entitlements, veterans benefits are not awarded automatically - to receive them, you have to apply.

QUALIFIYING FOR BENEFITS

Who is eligible for Aid & Attendance? First let's look at the basics. For a qualifying wartime veteran or surviving spouse to qualify for this special monthly pension, the veteran must have:

· Served at least 90 days of active military service

· Served at least one day during a period of war (which includes Iraq and Afghanistan)

· Been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable

· Wartime veterans who entered active duty on or after September 8, 1980, (for officers, October 16, 1981) must have completed at least 24 continuous months of military service, or served the time period they were ordered to active duty.

Once those criteria are met, a veteran could qualify for standard Aid & Attendance benefits or for Housebound benefits. (Veterans cannot receive both Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.) According to VA standards, veterans may be eligible for Aid & Attendance benefits if their medical needs fall in any of the following categories:

· They require the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living.

· They are bedridden, and their disability or disabilities requires them to remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment.

· They are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity

· They are blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.

Veterans who do not qualify for Aid & Attendance may still qualify for Housebound benefits when:

· They have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling and, due to such disability, they are permanently and substantially confined to their immediate premises; or

· They have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling and another disability or disabilities evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.

SOUND COMPLICATED?

Determinations of a need are based on medical reports and findings by physicians or from hospitals or nursing homes. If the veteran is a patient in a nursing home or is blind or nearly blind, qualifying for benefits is almost automatic. In other cases, all of the disabling conditions in the list above are not required. The evidence simply must establish the veteran or spouse needs regular, scheduled, and ongoing, aid and attendance from someone else. Care on a 24-hour basis is not a requirement.

But those are simply rough guidelines. The application process, the quality of your documentation, and ultimately the VA will determine whether you or a loved one qualifies for benefits.


This article has been divided into two parts.  To read the second part of this article, click here.

About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, powers of attorney, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation. 

Memories of Baghdad

By | Veterans | No Comments

A Story of Service from Sgt. Benjamin Daniel of the US Army

In the War on Terror in Iraq, a common difficulty was finding the enemy. The only way to identify the enemy there was to bait him and draw him out. One tactic often used by my platoon was to set a predictable pattern of operations for three to four days and then break it. This allowed the enemy to observe our patrol pattern and plan an attack against us. However, the enemy would not predict our break from the pattern and would be caught unaware.

On one such patrol, our platoon had set a pattern of driving through a market area built on a curvy stretch of road for about three days. On the fourth day, we arrived at the market area about two hours earlier than we had during the previous patrols. The market was filled with men wielding rifles and pistols, pulling together hastily made road obstructions of barbed wire, cement blocks and barrels. It was apparent they were setting up an ambush for our platoon. These men were not prepared for us when we arrived and, as one would guess, a firefight ensued. Most of the men ran from us, their morale immediately decimated by our intrusion into their poorly planned ambush. We pursued the enemy and detained many of them with little resistance.

Later I was assigned to guard a few of those we had detained. While many military forces have made their place in history, one key difference that sets the American military apart is in their treatment of detainees and prisoners. Once under our control, all prisoners are expected to be treated civilly, and provisions such as food and water will be given as needed.

One of the men sat blind-folded and cross-legged on the ground before me, his hands bound behind his back. He spoke the word "Ruah" which I had learned to mean something close to "water" or "thirsty". I retrieved a bottle of water from one of the platoon's humvees, poured a portion into a metal bowl, knelt down in front of this pitiful soul and lifted the bowl to his lips to drink. The thought crossed my mind that just moments before, this man was intent on my destruction. He had shown no good will toward me or my comrades, yet here I was ensuring his safety and well-being.

This is the moment I had a sort of personal revelation: this is what it means to love your enemies. This man had been hoping he would be the victor that day. Had things gone differently he could have, right then, been standing over my dead body and declaring, "Allah Akbar!" with no shame or remorse for the actions he'd committed. And yet I was giving him water. He wanted to harm me and I was intent on protecting him. I was sustaining his life when he wished to extinguish mine. I was loving my enemy.

I have replayed this scene in my mind many times since that day several years ago, and a sense of clarified humility always comes upon me. I stand in awe that in the middle of all that chaos and distress I was able to boldly represent my faith and my country with honor and integrity. I am grateful to God for the experience, and even more grateful to return home in safety to enjoy the freedoms that our great republic holds dear - freedoms unknown to so many others in the world.

Only one phrase is suitable in such a situation, and no matter how many times it is used it will always be true and will never become cliché: God bless America!