Darrell “Smitty” Smith is being told that the $15,000 “Special Separation” pay that he received more than 25 years ago has turned into a loan. And now that he is 100 percent disabled due to numerous ankle and back surgeries from his time in service, he may lose his home and his boxing gym where he trains the local youth.
After numerous back and ankle surgeries from his time in service, Smith is now fully disabled. Being deemed 100 percent unemployable by the military, that separation pay has turned into a loan. All of Smith’s disability checks are being taken until it’s paid back.
“It’s nothing I’m trying to get out of, but $14,000 and taking your whole check at one time of your income coming in, that would hurt anybody,” Smith says.
Smith was caught with his gloves down when he received a letter saying that he owed the military nearly $15,000 dollars they gave him nearly 25 years ago.
“I was unaware that according to a law written by Congress, that if you ever become a 100% disabled veteran, that money they gave you turns into a loan.”
“Smitty” has already been forced to start paying on it.
“They’re taking my next five paychecks and leaving my family with absolutely nothing because of the way the law is written in Congress,” Smith says,
Smitty spent about 16 years fighting the good fight for his country, but now, he is up against a different kind of fight.
“I mean if it comes down to it, I can’t lose my house. I’m just trying to save my gym,” he says.
He is not trying to save the gym just for himself, but for the kids he trains. He has trained multiple gold-glove fighters, and currently has a few in training eyeing Olympic competition in 2020.
“Tutors come on Thursdays and help them maintain a B average that we demand in order to box here. It’s a trade off. I’ll teach you how to box, in exchange for you making good grades and graduating high school. At any given time, I may have 20-25 kids in the gym. Some days I may have five. I don’t care as long as I got some kids in this gym,” he says.
“I still love my country though.”
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