KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) The spouse of a local soldier who was jailed on domestic violence charges says she’s waited too long to get help from Fort Hood officials in regards to her husband's discharge and keeping medical benefits.
United States Army, Photo Date: June 29, 2018 / Photo: Andrea Salgado Rivera / US Army / (MGN)
Krystal Kelley says she was living the American dream: kids and a husband proudly serving his country in the Army until one day it all came apart.
“I had a career, he had a career, we had the picture perfect American family, this doesn’t happen,” Krystal Kelley said.
But it did.
Her husband, soldier Kevin Michael Kelley, was arrested in April 2018 after he was accused of pointing a gun at her. Four months later, in August, he was arrested again – this time on domestic violence charges.
“I had asked for help, I knew this wasn’t my husband, a person I didn’t recognize,” she said.
Krystal says she turned to his chain of command. After just having their third child – she had become a stay-at-home mom with no income. Her husband still in jail.
So, she decided to get a divorce. Kevin was soon to be discharged – at least she thought.
“Informed me he would be discharged out of the military that following November and here it is June and it still hasn’t happened and until it does I can’t move forward with my life and children.”
She is looking to move forward into the Army’s Transitional Compensation Program that allows spouses of abuse to keep medical benefits and compensation up to 36 months.
Having the discharge will give her a peace of mind when filing for the divorce. She says she’s been waiting on Fort Hood for an update and the discharge to happen.
“I just keep being told, ‘Be more patient. Just continue to be patient.’ How much more patient can I be? It’s been over a year.”
In a statement, Fort Hood says in part, “We are committed to doing our best to ensure all members of our army family are taken care of and we will continue to work with the relevant authorities regarding this situation.”
Cassandra Gibson with The Carlson Law Firm says there could still be another way to get help.
“A spouse, or eligible dependent, can move forward with the divorce and still receive that transitional compensation post-divorce. The eligibility merely requires that the dependent abuse happened while they were in the household,” she said.
But there is a catch.
“Soldier must be separated either administratively, or through service by court-martial. That separation must state that is was due to dependent abuse,” Gibson said.
Gibson also reiterated there could still be other options to get some financial relief for an abused spouse even if dependent abuse is not listed.
Through this experience, Krystal Kelley says she has learned to push harder.
“You have to be the advocate for the person. You have to be the lion that roars,” Krystal Kelley said.
She hopes by speaking out that a resolution from Fort Hood and the Army comes quickly so she can move on and adjust to her new normal.