The Main Stream

Jul 9, 2014 12:24 PM by Bret Buganski

N4T Investigators: FOLLOW UP: Unpaid Soldier

TUCSON - He put his life on the line for his country. Phillip Puchkors was discharged from the Army Reserves in October, and was expected to receive his last paycheck in November. That man has been told the issue has been resolved, but he tells us that's not the case.

"There are soldiers with families out there that are counting on that money," said Puchkors. "You'll be rewarded for it, but you're not always rewarded for it in a timely manner."

Puchkors served ten years of active duty including tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the 35 year old found himself in a battle he felt like he was not going to win.

"It's been a constant trail of dead ends," said Puchkors.

"Every time I talk to somebody at DFAS (Defense Finance Accounting Services) it was something different and something new," said Sandi Puchkors, the 35 year old's mother who handled his finances while he was away on active duty.

Even after filling out several additional military forms upon DFAS' request, the family says they were given several reasons why Puchkors had not yet been paid.

"It's been a giant circle of red tape and call this person call this person and nobody has a straight answer for us," said Puchkors.

Documents obtained by News 4 Tucson Investigators show discrepancies. For example, back on November 5, 2013, the family was told Puchkors owed the military more than $2,800 because he was overpaid. Then on December 19, 2013, DFAS told them the amount was more than $2,900. On February 3, 2014, the amount increased to more than $3,500. And then on February 18, 2014, that amount was back down to $2,900. The forms also said Puchkors was still entitled "partial payment" saying please allow 30 to 45 days for the payment to be processed. The soldier never received the check.

"It shouldn't be this hard," said Sandi Puchkors.

Finally on June 4, 2014, DFAS sent him another letter saying his debt totalled more than $3,500 and that it needed to be deducted in order for him to get paid. The letter also said he needed to fill out more forms before his final check of more than $4,000 could be sent.

"It is what it is, that's the catch phrase of the year I think, it is what it is," said Puchkors.

The letter also stated he'd receive his check within 30 days of the date the ltter was stamped. That means he would receive the check on July 4, 2014. But as of this week, his check was nowhere to be found.

News 4 Tucson Investigators called DFAS to ask why the check was still missing in action, especially since the letter stated to call them if Puchkors still had not received his check within 30 days.

Although News 4 Tucson Investigators never heard back from DFAS, Congressman Ron Barber's office was able ot make contact with them. Barber's office was told Puchkors check was written on Tuesday, which by our records, indicates the check is late. DFAS did say Puchkors would have the check by Friday, July 11, 2014.

If you have a tip for the News 4 Tucson Investigators, please email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip line at 520-955-4444.

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