Helping Veterans And Their Families Pay Off Medical Debt

Non-profit buys and eliminates medical debt

Finding yourself buried under medical debt can take a heavy toll on almost anyone. But when that person is also a military veteran, it can cause tragic consequences.

"I had a father-in-law that in 2015 on Dec. 8 committed suicide," veteran Mikel Burroughs said. Burroughs said some of the pressure facing his father-in-law was debt.

"I think healthcare plays a big part of that and having this debt hanging over their head can definitely be a trigger," Burroughs said.

That's why Burroughs is working with a non-profit organization that will buy and forgive the medical debt of military veterans.

RIP Medical Debt is a non-profit group that is buying and forgiving medical debt across the country. Like a debt collector, RIP Medical buys the delinquent debt for pennies on the dollar. But unlike the collector, RIP Medical abolishes the debt.

Medical debt is the No. 1 reason for bankruptcy in California. NBC 7's Consumer Bob on how NBC Responds is helping to make a difference.

Craig Antico helped create RIP Medical Debt, "People are in dire need of this help."

Antico says they are aware of at least $600 million in medical debt in San Diego. He says 20 to 25 percent of that debt is made up of veterans and their family.

NBC 7 Responds is donating enough money to RIP Medical Debt to forgive a million dollars worth of debt in San Diego and encourages others to also make donations. NBC 7 is unable to specifically choose who's debt is chosen ... but people who donate to RIP Medical Debt can specify veterans to receive the aid.

Antico says his group has already forgiven $10 million in medical debt for veterans, military, and their families and plans to do even more in San Diego.

Mikel Burroughs says he has seen what a difference the money can make.

"It's great to get on the phone and talk to a veteran and say we've eliminated $10,000 dollars worth of debt and the burden that takes off their shoulders and the piece of mind is unbelievable," Burroughs said.

Besides forgiving $1 million of debt in San Diego, the NBC Universal Owned Television Stations is making a donation to RIP Medical Debt that will buy and forgive $15 million nationwide. 

NBC 7 cannot choose who gets the help and people cannot personally sign up to receive help.  But if you choose to make a donation you can say you'd like to help veterans.  

Click here to learn more about how you can donate to help veterans' medical debt.

"These people fought and served for us and we need to fight and serve for them," Burroughs said.

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