Rest in Peace, RIP Medical Debt. Your name is retired — And Your Mission Continues

Jerry Ashton
4 min readApr 14, 2024

Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico (left to right)

On Monday, April 15, 2024, “RIP” will have been laid to rest, and the charity that I and RIP’s co-founder Craig Antico struggled to start some 10 years ago will be relaunched as Undue Medical Debt.

Gone will be its former logo (itself revised from the crude original above we first created) and gone will be the current colors and fonts.

This is our logo now

Why the change?

Nothing beats periodically “rethinking” goals and missions — especially when you reach milestones. When RIP was first launched in 2014, our ambition was to abolish ONE BILLION DOLLARS in medical debt.

Considering RIP barely abolished a few million dollars in its first two years, we couldn’t blame people for rolling their eyes.

Five years later on December 12, 2019, we officially announced that we had relieved $1 billion in medical debt for a half-million Americans across all 50 states (including $65M of that debt burdening veterans — more on that below. Keep reading). That felt good.

As of this month, we have abolished nearly $12 billion in medical debt for some eight million people. We likely will abolish an additional $2 billion in medical debt in 2024 alone. This feels even better.

An exciting milestone…again

What the leadership and staff of Undue Medical Debt (UMD) are doing in this refresh is to capture the organization’s growth and bold vision for a future where the causes of medical debt are undone, eliminating the need for debt relief — and the charity itself.

How’s that for grand? Instead of “sweeping up after the parade” and dealing with the symptoms rather than the disease, move to the front of the parade where the problems start — the laws, policies, and mindset that created this broken medical system. And work to change them through partnerships, policy advocacy, and research.

I encourage you to join UMD in this expanded mission. A good place to start is by bookmarking our new website: and friend us on Instagram and Facebook as @unduemedicaldebt, on LinkedIn as @Undue-Medical-Debt and Twitter/X as @unduemeddebt. And, of course, continue to provide us with the funding that will be needed.

What’s next for me? Ending even more debt — this time for Veterans

When I retired to UMD’s board in late 2021, I still had one piece of unfinished business to address — applying that same forgiveness remedy to our veterans.

From my unique vantage point as a Navy veteran and researching the sources of medical debt I learned that the VA through its system holds billions of dollars in unpaid medical debt owed by veterans — and even active-duty members of our military. I also know that the American public is unaware of this travesty.

As a former Navy journalist and co-author of End Medical Debt, I also know that people will be outraged once they learn of the extent of the debt that burdens our returned heroes. They will be shocked that our nation’s heroes are prime targets of financial scammers, high-interest-rate credit cards, payday lending, car loans, predatory school tuition…and so much more.

In the 12 years of existence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), it has reviewed more than 323,000 complaints from the military community. Last year alone, it recovered $175 million in monetary relief from enforcement actions against companies that harmed military members and veterans. At least one-third of all complaints about collection agencies made to the CFPB come from veterans and their families.

Ending Veteran Debt — For Good

It’s time to step in and step up.

In October 2023, a carefully chosen team and I created a second platform to perform massive debt forgiveness: a 501(c)(3) charity called End Veteran Debt (EVD).

In its role as a private foundation, EVD will partner nationally and locally with veteran charities and like-minded sister organizations, the faith-based community, philanthropists, and civic-minded corporations to collectively address and correct these financial injustices.

Will EVD duplicate the wild success of RIP, now known as UMD?

Don’t roll your eyes — yes. We’re starting afresh with the same modest goal, to forgive $1 billion in veteran debt no matter its source.

We are already acquiring believers, and as young as EVD is, we are attracting national attention.

Jessica Glenza of The Guardian did a wonderful piece on our ambitions, and Jared Bennett of the Lexington KY Public Media did a Veteran’s Day deep dive to reveal that federal debt collectors themselves hound veterans — with collection tools the debt collection industries envy.

We can do better than this. We have to do better than this. Please join us in this mission. Let’s End Veteran Debt — For Good.

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Jerry Ashton

Navy Journalist veteran, co-founder and founder of the charities RIP Medical Debt and End Veteran Debt — co-creator of Let's Rethink This and "Impact Awareness"