Carmel restores Nat'l Guard's benefits


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First Sgt. John Hanson is in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment. Every time he's been away, his employer, the City of Carmel, has covered his medical benefits and also made up the difference in his National Guard pay. However, this time things suddenly changed.

Recently, the city sent a letter to Hanson's wife, Annette, saying Hanson's benefits will end December 31, 2009.

"The letter I got led me to believe, and everything I was told, was that it was a done deal, the medical benefits were not being carried forward," says Annette.

Annette claims the city has not responded to her calls, but on Tuesday night the council tried to make amends. They unanimously passed a resolution, giving benefits to all city employees who've been activated or deployed for military service. Legally, the city isn't obligated to do so.

"We feel we have been forward leaning on that and we have very strong record, I think, of supporting the veterans," says Carmel Mayor Sue McCloud.

The mayor blames city staff for sending the letter. Not knowing the council planned to extend Hanson's benefits in early December, before they ran out. Many community members call the city's mixed messages unacceptable.

"It's so embarrassing, I honestly believe you owe John Hanson an apology," says Mike Brown, a Carmel resident.

"Tell us who is responsible for this inhumane act," says veteran Clayton Anderson.

The council gave no explanation, which is fine with Annette.

"The bottom line for me is there was a breakdown in communication, they've done the right thing and its passed," says Annette.

The council wants this resolution to be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2009, but it expires in one year's time. That's why the city will move to make this resolution a permanent city ordinance by then.

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