A torn shoulder forced this mom to give up her dream

A torn shoulder forced this mom to give up her dream

By Kristin Davis

MOAA members will be participating in the association's annual Storming the Hill event April 18. One of the issues we'll bring to members of Congress is the fight for recognition for Chapter 61 retirees. This is part of a series in which those medically retired servicemembers discuss their experiences. 

The Army was the best decision retired Staff Sgt. Antoinette Stanford ever made, she says. She still remembers the date she signed up: Aug. 5, 1997. The daughter of a Marine, she'd first gone to work as a civilian for DoD.

“My job was phased out. I was married with a 3-year-old son. I wanted to maintain the same benefits I had with the DoD.”

Stanford's marriage ended, and the single mother became a supply specialist in the Army. “I did a lot of logistical missions. It was challenging. It was also fulfilling. It grounded me. It made me more knowledgeable about the world. My son benefited from it, too.”  

Then in 2007, she tore her shoulder during an exercise, which required surgery. The Army had taken a physical toll on other parts of her body, too, she said, including her knees and ankles. 

She was medically retired with 20-percent service-connected disability. Stanford could no longer afford to live on her own. “I was evicted twice,” she said, ultimately moving back home to Pennsylvania and with her mother, where she still lives.

Much of her disability pay supports her son, whom she is now helping put through college.

“We served our country. We don't have what we earned,” Stanton said. “That's all we want. We earned our retirement pay. We signed a contract. What's so ironic about is we would to it again. I would do it all again.”

MOAA supports ending the deduction of service-earned retirement pay to offset VA disability compensation for those servicemembers whose service-connected, non-combat related disability retirement under Chapter 61, 10 U.S.C. precluded them from serving at least 20 years. Click here to take action.