EASTER TRICK OR TREAT AT THE VA

No, I’m not a conspiracy freak. I do not’ subscribe to Chemtrails Today or Deep State Magazine. I instead prefer light humor and get the news feed from the VAOIG Monthly “Highlights”. How about that discovery that all those VA whistleblowers (thinking they are anonymous) just discovered their bosses are the ones looking into their allegations of wrongdoing? Is that a hoot or what? That’s even richer than State’s Attorney Kim Foxx “colloquially recusing” herself from the Smollett hen house massacre. But wait. There’s more here at the VA that bears close examination.

revised 1633 Hrs PDT.

Having played VA poker for nigh on thirty years, I have watched the revamping of the denial process. It’s evolving like the cell phone. VA justice was crude like the old Motorola brick phones in the beginning. However, they were dual use. You could grip that rubber ducky antenna and use it like a blackjack when some chowderhead tried to steal your favorite red baseball cap. Unfortunately, you couldn’t whack a Veterans Law Judge upside the head. Unlike the old phones, now we can surreptitiously record video and conversations and bust folks doing what they insist they weren’t. We can also review a claims file and discover what we were never meant to see.

After the War of 1812, the Govt. found itself knee-deep in Veterans. Some method had to be invented to fence the malingerers and trailer trash out. This gave birth to the “acute but resolved before separation” excuse. It was lethal to claims but eventually, someone (the CAVC) spilled the beans in Caluza v Brown. Read it. From then on the acute and resolved gig declined in popularity at the VBA. Eventually, with the advent of social justice and real law, the Board of Veterans Appeals was forced to appear “equitable” and begin paying more than lip service to terms like “equipoise” and “presumption of soundness”. I actually toss in a blurb at the end of my briefs and insist on the benefit of the doubt. Of course, I use fancypants words like:

Appellant feels the appeal is in equipoise and asks for the time-honored pro-Veteran canon of statutory construction most recently espoused in Henderson v. Shinseki, 562 U.S.428, 441 (2011) (“We have long applied the canon that provisions for benefits to members of the Armed Services are to be construed in the beneficiaries’ favor.”). The pro-Veteran canon instructs that provisions providing benefits to veterans should be liberally construed in the veterans’ favor, with any interpretative doubt resolved to their benefit. See, e.g., King v. St. Vincent’s Hosp., 502 U.S. 215, 220 (1991). The Supreme Court first articulated this canon in Boone v. Lightner to reflect the sound policy that we must “protect those who have been obliged to drop their own affairs to take up the burdens of the nation.” 319 U.S. 561, 575 (1943). This same policy underlies the entire veterans benefit scheme. Barrett v. Principi, 363 F.3d 1316, 1320 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (“[T]he veterans benefit system is designed to award entitlements to a special class of citizens, those who risked harm to serve and defend their country. This entire scheme is imbued with special beneficence from a grateful sovereign.”

Perhaps it was Bill Clinton (I’m not sure on this one) who said “If you cain’t impress them with your alleged intelligence, baffle them with bullshit and jokes about how you didn’t inhale”. My point is I use every judicial tool at my disposal like a Bullshit button to combat this mayhem at the 57 Fort Fumbles across the fruity plains. And I have amassed plenty. I have a folder for briefs with all my Killer Cites to deflate bogus VA allegations and “findings of fact”.

What concerns me most is a growing trend in adjudications. I speak of the new (relatively) National Work Queue (NWQ). I created the analogy of a giant Lotto hopper with all the VA claims numbers in it and an air jet to swirl them around for the TV cameras. It begins thusly:

  1. Insert claim at the EIC in Cheeseville.
  2.  VA ‘technician” (and I use the term loosely) removes the claim from the tumbler and tries to decypher whatever it is you are claiming. After typing it up and assigning an End Product code (EP 020) in M 21-ese, s/he reinserts it back into the tumbler.
  3.   Yet another techie removes it several weeks later and decides if you need a medical c&p exam. And then throws it back into the hopper.
  4. You get a notification several weeks later to report  to QTC/LHI/VES or you local VAMC to be examined for these “alleged” illnesses/injuries.
  5. Three months later, the exam results are uploaded into your claims file. And here is where the new travesty of justice ensues. But first-back to the tumbler. Remember, I have only discussed five steps so far but more than 20 VA techies have put their fingerprints on this baby by now.
  6. A rater (#1) now “develops the claim”. By that, I mean they use OCR text recognition to cruise through mounds of VAMC CAPRI hospital paperwork, your VAMC files, your Service Treatment Records and anything you submitted. So, what happens if you’re like me- a Vietnam era Vet with a lot of hand-written records? Well, pilgrim, you’re plumb screwed to be honest. They haven’t taught cursive writing in 10 or more years. Worse, even if you were adroit at reading cursive, you’d need an advanced primer on reading contemporary doctors’ chicken scratch. Those VA techies blow this chapter off and proceed merrily on to getting it “Ready for Decision”.
  7. Finally, about the magic 125-day point, someone looks at the suspense date for cranking out a decision. Ready or not, here s/he comes with your M 21-derived rating. As we know, 85% will be denied. Often, this is the 3rd or 4th rater to begin the “promulgate decision” mode. Usually, they discover they’ve forgotten something and it has to be “reworked” to ensure it’s wrong. There’s a lot of this. The Huston rater knows it’s a shit show. S/he would rather find some minute error and stick it back in the tumbler for the VSR in Winston Salem to put out. It’s a game of ‘Not it!’.
  8. With the new AMA claims system, you now need either a sympathetic ear at the Higher Level of Review (HLR) venue or some most excellent new and relevant evidence to submit to the Supplemental Claims Lane. You can also go to the BVA and proceed to what we used to call a Notice of Disagreement based on the fact that the cursive handwriting was never part of the real record even though the rater said it was. I’ve given up at the Regional level other than to file the claim. In fact, I make no pretense of submitting any evidence. Why bother? Why not let them hamburger it first?

There’s another ploy to consider. If VA denies first off, then you can fulfill what you’re lacking and cure it. If they come back and deny on a different theory from the original one, why, that’s a post hoc rationalization  (see Martin v. Occ. Safety and Health  Council). Litigating positions are accorded no deference if they are merely post hoc rationalizations for prior Agency actions.) You’ll see VA do this frequently and no one catches it. What gives?

The new VA claims technique is more subtle. The M 21 seems to have been reprogrammed to allow raters to ignore what appears to be exculpatory evidence and rely entirely on what the M 21 copier spits out into the ‘printing complete’ tray. Gone are the good old days of one rater (not 50) taking your file home with him at night and reading it after dinner. S/he would develop it from beginning to end and provide a rational answer. Yes, Virginia, there were problems with this like the Friday the 13th (July) 1973 NPRC barbecue on the sixth floor that magically burnt up records which wouldn’t be archived there for a decade or more. Worse, they sometimes float to the surface of the VBMS 40 years later when someone finally notices nobody ever actually wrote back to the NPRC  and asked for the STRs back in ’73. This is becoming the frequent “oh-so-rare CUE error” we were told about in Fugo v. Brown.

Essentially, the NWQ is modeled after the Detroit auto assembly model. As the car moves down the assembly line, VA ‘installers” complete preliminary tasks like c&p exams, pseudo research via Wikipaedia, trying to ascertain if you “stepped foot” in Vietnam, if you smoked cigarettes to defeat lung cancer presumptives, denial if your dad had Parkinson’s so you had a genetic proclivity for it, etc. Instead of one comprehensive examination of all the assembled evidence and a truly exhausting review of the potential for extending the benefit of the doubt, we now have upwards of 50 yayhoos with their fingerprints all over your file from Buffalo to San Diego-before a decision is even made. And, like Detroit, if they forgot to associate the SSD records with your TDIU claim, it goes down in flames. Advance token to Go and lose a turn for remand.

It used to be we could call up our local Puzzle Palace and ask what they were smoking when they denied our claims (or our clients’ claims). Now I have to have access to the VBMS to see who was last assigned the claim/appeal in the Notes section. I have to call up the Change Management Agent who serves attys/agents at the offending VARO and have him ask the rater to please call me or explain how they arrived at such a flawed conclusion. I usually get a polite email answer saying ” Well,  I asked and the rater looked it over but they are unable to grant. Fortunately for your client, he has innumerable options to seek a higher level of review ad nauseum. Please thank him/her for their service.”

There was a time we could barter over the phone or in person in the RO’s cafeteria (no recording devices permitted). They didn’t frisk you for a wire but it was almost that bad. If push came to shove, they’d deny it was them and the recording was fabricated. Those days are lost and gone forever. VA’s theme song is Paranoia Big Destroyer. So, too is the much-vaunted DRO hearing. At best, I can get a “higher level of review ” rater to call me back and almost pretend to listen to my diatribe. Pretend is the operable word here.

For all you attorneys and agents- beware the “Supplemental Claims Lane (SCL)”. As the name implies, this characterizes the old NOD in a new light. It is a new claim for all intents and purposes so newsflash-no 20% for a win. That will require a HLR or a trip to the BVA to get your baksheesh.

Now for a new scam. You have an IMO, You foolishly send it in with your shiny new claim. Well, boy howdy this ought to speed things up. Not. Va promptly goes out and finds a VA proctologist to opine on your TBI symptoms and you get the resultant ” Unfortunately we are unable to grant your claim(s). The VA Examiner got a big bang out of your IMO but we determined ours was far more probative because we-unlike you- read the claims file.” If they’d done their homework, they’d see your 3288 requesting the c-file and know that.

So, you think you’re smarter than the average bear and send the IMO in as a Supplemental claim. VA is now sending these to the Black Hole or the Appeals Management Center (AMC), renamed the Appeals Management Office (AMO) and now the Appeals Resource Center (ARC). Six of one and half a dozen of another. The last and newest name reflects the truth. They analyze the IMO for a weak spot and illegally shoot it down. We solved this problem initially with the ‘vague’ Mariano v. Principi  argument that you cannot deny if a Vet has all three elements necessary for a grant-i.e. 1)disease/injury/presumptive in service, 2) same thing now; and 3) the golden IMO. Fortunately, the CAVC came back and clarified that in Hart v. Mansfield. Here’s my killer cite for cut and paste in the brief.

Mariano v. Principi, 17 Vet.App. 305, 312 (2003) held that it “would not be permissible for VA to undertake such additional development if a purpose was to obtain evidence against an appellant’s case.” Id. (emphasis added). This single sentence, although rendered without further explanation, states a broad, general proposition, that was revisited by the Court in Hart v. Mansfield, 21 Vet.App. 505, 508 (2007). Hart stated that additional development is not permitted “if the purpose was to obtain evidence against the claim,” and further noted that if the evidence was insufficient to make a decision on the claim, then the Secretary was required to obtain a medical examination.

For every VA denial, there’s usually a regulation or a precedental Federal case cite that will eviscerate it. Finding the sucker is the challenge. If you have Westlaw at $59 a minute, you’re loaded for bear. If not and you are a DIY pro se Vet, I’d use the BVA decisions for my cites. I did it for decades during my battle and it paid off handsomely. The repair order for an 86’d IMO is Hart supra (above). To avoid this conundrum of IMOs that are dead on arrival, I now only submit them to the BVA. There, they are received as real evidence and never rebutted. The BVA is constipated with a gazillion appeals. Hand a Veterans Law Judge a giftwrapped appeal w/ IMO and it’s a chicken dinner winner every time.

I find half the battle is reading the denial decision in excruciating detail. Take each sentence apart and analyze it for what it says- or more importantly-what it doesn’t say. If it sounds like bullshit, it probably is. No. Let me rephrase that advice. Most are bull shit and have no basis in VA law or congressional statute. VA is big on mission creep. The more they deny, the bolder they become.

Please do not read this as a screed against VA raters. It isn’t their fault. They are handed a file and expected to come up with a decision-more often wrong than right- in a very short time. Worse, they were not able to become acquainted with it and see incongruities that would jump out and bite a seasoned law dog’s eyeballs. The mantra seems to be “I trust everything done before this ended up in my in-basket.” This is how the Challenger’s frozen O-rings escaped detection. This is how Apollo 13 ended up in a world of shit 200,00 miles from home. Assume nothing. How many times have you heard the plaint “I didn’t know it was loaded. It’s not my fault _____ is dead.”

I pride myself on not presuming I know everything. I recognize I’m not perfect so I review my work to the point of redundancy. I play Devil’s advocate and take the VA’s side of the claim to determine if I can find glaring flaws. This is what every Rainmaker should do. Just because you have a Juris Doctorate and the word Esquire after your name (I don’t) doesn’t give you a bye on intelligence. Remember, VA raters do not have anything close to a JD and many create denial logic out of whole cloth. They rely on you swallowing their hooey hook, line and sinker. Therein lies the fabled 98% accuracy claims they tout. You do not appeal 98% of the time-ipso facto, they are right 98% of the time.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Posted in All about Veterans, AMC or ARC, Appeals Modernization Act, C-Files and RBAs, Humor, Independent Medical Opinions, KP Veterans, Presumption of Soundness, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA Attorneys, VBMS Tricks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

VA EXAMINERS–CHARTER MEMBERS OF THE FLAT EARTH SOCIETY

I’m sorry I’ve been remiss. I have been a slave to the typewriter attempting to cure the misguided proclivities of VA raters across our rapidly fruiting plains this spring. It seems there is something in the water or left-handed tobacco has been legalized and they aren’t being dope-tested. Jez, where do I start today? Ahh, of course. All of you folk must be into that new business gig  LinkedUp®, right? About six times a day, I get an update to “Congratulate Bob on his reaching 90 days sober at Astin Mechanical.” My new influizers (sp?) are Honey BooBoo and Michael Avenatti. I was searched for 5 times last week by huge corporations who might want to buy me?  Cupcake signed me up on LinkedUp™ so I have no idea what she said about me. Look me up. I’m in the icloud somewhere. I have accountants who pay for it all.

Pickles has now doubled in weight to 11 lbs this AM. Puppy breath is still there.

 

I got my ass whipped by a couple of losses I didn’t see coming but this is what  we have to endure at the regional level. Always remember this is an insurance company. The  VA’s fisc is a clear responsibility they look at like the Huns (Veterans with alleged disabilities) at the Gate.  I draw the line when they start coming up with the following sleight of hand. Imagine you’re rated for two separate things-in the instant case here- TBI and PTSD. They’re two separate “disorders”- DC 8045 @70% and DC 9411@50%. They might share one or two overlapping symptoms but they generally have two entirely separate sets of “conditions”. Remember those descriptive nouns for mental “issues”.

Now grant some other increases to a banged up body like 50% for headaches and 10% for tinnitus for TBI they somehow overlooked for 50 years and…oh-oh…jez, he’ll be entitled to SMC S. Can’t have that. Quick, conflate two ‘disorders’ into one and disappear the PTSD into thin air. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. A rater pulled off this amazing trick of prestidigitation and then had the balls to say the VA, in its munificence, wouldn’t be filing to recoup the overpayment to the Veteran for the last 4 years.

Actually, the language in DC 8045 says rate the TBI shit under TBI and rate the bent brain shit under PTSD. That’s to avoid pyramiding. And here, the rater gets points for trying to bullshit a bullshitter. He gets plumb amusing for attempting to”reintegrate” two disorders into one. Reintegrate?

Well, hush my mouth. I thought it was a sub silentio reduction in rating.  I went on a writing jag and cranked out the most excellent rebuttal to an SSOC in all my years. Most times I wouldn’t get all in a tizzy and just take it to the BVA. Welcome to the new AMA folks.  That’s what we’re doing now. This was written, not for the 70 IQ GS 13 Booth Bitch in Jackson, Miss but for the edification of a learned Veterans Law Judge and his staff counsel.

Rebuttal of SSOC redacted

Now, if that wasn’t the biggest error they hoped no one would ever unravel, how about the same story in a different town a month earlier. This time, the Vet has a mess of 10s, 20s, and 30%ers along with a total loss of rt hand. The army operated on it to fix a finger. Five surgeries later, the hand was a feeder claw like on a lobster. The army sent him packing with 60% for the hand instead of 70%. Uh-oh. 1993 CUE. Well, they ignored the CUE and took away a 26 year rating of 10% and a 9-year rating of 10% (20% total) saying it was, well, nonsymptomatic dude and we can’t pay you if the boo boo got all better, now can we? And besides, we gave you 30% for your hip right before we took the 20% away. Since we really didn’t reduce your rating by 86ing the antique rating, you’re still at 80% instead of 90%. And oh, by the way, that TDIU? Nope. We tried but we couldn’t swing it with you only being 80% rated and all.

If you go down into the Go To Work section in the VBMS, you see the deferrals flying back and forth.

Rater #1: Increasing hip to 30% with increase in Left ankle results in 95% combined rating. Refer back to coach.

Coach: Add scars up. Do they equal 6″²? o%. Also. we have a problem. Veteran’s agent has access to VBMS and can see we’re fixing to screw him on a protected rating. You have my authority to promulgate. Screw the agent.

So here we go. The VA rater blithely takes 26-yr. old antique painful scar rating(s) and conflates all the scars into square footage. Uh-oh. You need six square inches to get to 10%. Way missed it by thaaaaaat much.

As for that pesky CUE, he’s right All the PULHES scores at entry were 1 across the board. The exit has a 5 on it for upper. Screw it. Call him left handed now and confirm the rating of the non-dominant (formerly right handed) hand at 60%. Next?

I can’t make this shit up. This is what happens when you have to crank out 10 decisions a day or get demoted. Or, God forbid, screwed out of your bonus Performance Pay Incentive Allowance.

Here’s my answer to dufus in Houston who has no idea how to spell 38 CFR:

Redacted CUE NOD pdf

Remember, if you are the CUE guy, you are a “movant. Otherwise you’re a claimant or an appellant. When you file an Ex Writ at the Court, you are a petitioner.

P.S. Here’s a little something  you and your buds could cook up this weekend.

Posted in 1154(b) combat presumptions, 3.156(c), Agent Orange, All about Veterans, C&P exams, CUE, Earlier Effective dates, Humor, KP Veterans, Reductions in rating, SOCs and SSOCs, VA Agents, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

THE NEW APPEALS MODERNIZATION ACT…AND MORE

When we hit Nashville for the NOVA conferences 20-23 March, I actually though I had a good handle on the AMA layout. Well, ‘not exactly’ as they say over at Rentawreck™.  So, since the time we walked out of there, I’m still somewhat disflusticated as to whether I heard all that co-reckly.

Here’s the take. I compared it to a Mobius loop for the 4/11/2019 Hadit.com Blog talk radio show yesterday with Jerrell Cook. As promised. I’m going to draw one out here and then put in the dotted lines to connect all the possible combinations. Remember there are two forks of three paths each. Well, except for the fact that you can jump around like a hoarder in a flea market and go whither thou choose. Confused yet? Okay. I relent. here’s the Rand McNally roadmap.

First of all, as long as you meet all suspense dates, you can technically keep your original effective date forever or until you lose at the CAVC or the Fed Circus. Thus you lose at the SLR and then the HLR. You file your NOD to the BVA and get your front teeth kicked in. You then discover you needed a nexus/IMO all this time and get one. You go back to the Supplemental Claims Lane and begin again… but… with the original filing date. How  cool is that?

Now for the insanity. You put in three claims. Each one can have a certain path depending on denial or a desire for a higher increase. The problem is elementary. How do you present or provide evidence for a higher evaluation for a HLR? You can’t. You cannot submit squat in a higher level of review.  Your only option is to go to the BVA or back for a do over in the SCL venue. This eventually devolves into a game of being able to manufacture N&RE in vast quantities and hoarding it to insert as necessary.

I personally think the kicker is that you can  make a u turn after the BVA loss and begin anew at the SCL with more evidence and keep you filing date. As usual, we’re going to learn by error. My attitude about the HLR Lane is decidedly negative. I’m pretty sure it will be a “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand, sailor?”

And boy howdy, if you even thought the BVA was more constipated than a sailor on a desert isle with a pallet of American cheese right now, well… you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, honey. This is going to be a fustercluck of epic proportions. They have 600,000 Legacy claims still sitting there.

So, in review, there are no more RAMP claims. They ceased on February 14th, 2019 at 1630 Hrs Local. On February 19th, 2019 at 0800, we commenced the new AMA. If you have a Legacy claim, you can keep it. I know that lead-in sounds suspiciously like the Obamacare promise but it’s true. You can drive your Legacy to the end and take it to the CAVC. Or….the moment the VARO issues you a SOC or SSOC, you can opt in to the AMA and go to the BVA for one of the three choices I discussed above. It’s a smorgasbord of choices-sort of a mix-and-match or a salad bar.

Most of my clients are very ill so I try to get Travel Board hearings whenever possible. If the schedule is too crowded, the option is there to go to DC and do it at 810 Yellow Brick Rd. NW. All my folks are in the Tidewater region anyway so it’s six of one and half a dozen of another. Kill two birds with one stone.

Posted in Appeals Modernization Act, BvA Decisions, Humor, KP Veterans, NOVA Attorneys, VA Agents, VA Attorneys, VA RAMP, VA suspense dates, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

HADIT.COM RADIO SHOW–THE AMA–A MOBIUS LOOP?

Sorry I have been remiss but it seems VA has been bery bery productive in cranking out denials. Jez, wait until I opt in to an HLR. In truth, I’m ecstatic that some of these came out post-February 14th. I don’t have to tangle with the Jackson, Mississippi negative Nancys now. 

Tomorrow, the Good Howard willing, we’ll do a radio show with Jerrell and John. The same old Bat Time and Bat channel of course- 1600 Hrs on the Left Coast and 19oo on the Least Coast.

The subject, of course, will be the new Appeals Modernization Act. I’m sure they call it Ahmah by now at the ROs. Come on. If they call the D R Os  Droze, you know they weaponized it by now. How about Seeler for a suplemental claims lane or Heeler for a Higher Level of review. Shot, we out to call up the VA prize redemption line and discuss it with the VA’s “technicians”. Can you imagine walking into the VFW to see you service rep and asking “How’s my Heeler coming?” Chances are they’ll rename them into an intelligent-sounding acronym.

Pickles whelped 2/15/2019

We’ll talk about these interesting subjects, my new dog and more tomorrow. Imagine being able to jump from the RO denial to a BVA NOD. Better yet, imagine jumping from a BVA denial back into the Supplemental Review Lane and grabbing a SME IMO and managing to keep the same effective date. Is this crazy or what? I’m sure their Honors at the CAVC are praying Vets do so.

Enjoy life as best you can until tomorrow afternoon, kids.

The Call in Number is still the same

347-237-4819 (push #1 to talk)

 

Posted in Appeals Modernization Act, Humor, KP Veterans, SVR Radio on hadit.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NOVA–THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE VET BUSINESS

Cupcake- Spring Toga 1981

Just as Spring approaches and everyone is planning their Toga Parties, I, and other like-minded Veterans Advocates descend on the Spring Conferences. What? You guys don’t do Toga Parties? How utterly uncivilized. At the NOVA conferences, we learn new tricks on how to set up blind ambushes, invisible Punji Pits and the proper deployment of assets. How fun is that? Well, probably way less funner than  going to WallyWorld™ for most Veterans. So much to learn. So little time. Having an F4 Metavir Score is not to be confused with being a Chicken Dinner Winner so I want to make the most of what I have left. 

Imagine being given a Super Power like Capt. America or Thor. Well, that’s what the VA Power of Attorney is. It’s like walking in and flashing your badge. Whoa there, cowboys. Not so fast. Did you Miranda him? Didn’t think so. May I have a moment alone with my client?

Then imagine getting to do this for Veterans. Is that too cool for school or what? Shoot, if I could clone myself and teach others, we could spread out across the fruited plains and wipe the VA out financially. I know. That’s counterproductive if you’re a bona fide tax-paying citizen but if you want to dress up like GI Joe and go play in someone else’s sandbox, there’s bound to be collateral damage. Appropriating funds for disability compensation should go hand-in-hand with 5.56 and 7.62mm procurement. Since they never do, the Govt. has enabled VA to “underserve” us. But… they forgot to plug the slot in the complaints box. In 2007, Congress allowed attorneys to stick their noses under the litigation tent . This also created a niche enterprise that allows non-attorney practitioners and VA agents to engage in H&I from 0800-1630. Seriously, dude. You get to dress up like Perry Mason and have all the same super powers given to someone with a shiny new Juris Doctorate-along with a crushing student loan of $225,000 @ 12% interest. Boy howdy. Like Beto O’Rourke said yesterday, “Man, I was born for this job”.” Ten years ago, I spent 58 days in ICU. They nicknamed me Mr. Defib. I had no idea you can still hear them when they yell “Clear!” Weird, huh?  I’m ready for this, now. I even have my own defib unit on-board, too. Gee, I wonder if I’m supposed to yell ‘Clear’ when it goes off. Not likely. I’ll be doing the chicken at 30,000 joules. Chances are I won’t be saying shit either.

You don’t have to belong to NOVA to go to these conferences. If you just wanted to attend as an observer or student, they have a special rate for that, too. The more advocates we have, the more Veterans we can help. There are three million plus Veterans out there with disabilities ranging from 0% to 100%. Trust me when I say they are not being served very well under the existing system. To me, the crime is no one at VBA is proactive-even at  VHA hospitals – unarguably the first line of encounter for gravely ill Veterans. There ought to be a huge 14-point type at the top of the intake form that says:

PLEASE FILL OUT THE FOLLOWING BELOW

  • Would you like to apply for benefits today?                               [  ] Yes    [  ] No
  • ”                              ” establish an informal claim at this time? [  ] Yes    [  ] No
  • If already service connected, is this related to it?                     [  ] Yes     [  ] No
  • Do you have a VA representative?                                               [  ] Yes     [  ] No
  • Attorney  [  ]     Agent [  ]    VSO  [  ]   Next door neighbor  [  ]
  • Should we contact him or her?”                                                   [  ] Yes     [  ] No

I’m finally beginning to notice more folks are capitalizing the word Veterans as they should have long ago. I certainly hope that will be the norm before I pass. Thank you- all of you- not just the VA and some of their incredible CMA employees. I want to thank all of you who allow me to help you. It’s a wonderful feeling and a great honor to be entrusted with such a task.

And lastly, that burning queshun on everyone’s lips.

Posted in 2019 SPRING NOVA Nashville., All about Veterans, CAVC Knowledge, Complaints Department, Future Veterans, Humor, Important CAVC/COVA Ruling, Inspirational Veterans, KP Veterans, Lawyering Up, NOVA Attorneys, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA Attorneys, vA news, vARO Decisions, VARO Misfeasance, VBMS Tricks, Veterans Law, VSOs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

asknod MENAGERIE + ONE

LZ Grambo will have a FNG after we get back from Nashville NOVA. Cookie (I prefer Pickles) will be weaned o/a my birthday on 4/01. We will be bringing her home then. She’s a silver Lab Retriever and loves my earlobe. 

Ladies and gentlemen, meet our new baby.

Don’t let those eyes fool you. She’s going to be vicious.

Posted in All about Veterans, Humor, KP Veterans, VA Agents | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

2019 NOVA–I KNOW… IT’S ONLY VA LAW BUT I LIKE IT.

“Would ya think the boy’s insane?… He’s insane.

Yes, kids. About this time every year, I have to seek warmth for my Lumbago and my tired soul. Cupcake is my caregiver. This year the doctor prescribed a two-day dose of Nashville Tennessee for my NOVA Continuing Legal Education , or CLE “credits”. Yep. You read that right. Sounds like something  lawyers would dream up. Learn law and enjoy good single malt scotch. Meet Jedi Masters. Always husband your resources and your assets. Learn about your AO from others’ experience. I’m more a Rolling Stones guy but Country is Cupcake’s cup of tea. I expect she’ll pack her cowboy boots.

The Spring Solstice NOVA is two parts learning, one part socializing and one part networking. There’s always lots of business cards flying around. There’s usually a CAVC Judge in attendance. It’s a hoot. You actually learn things or at least the why of things. With VBMS access, you really only get an insider’s view of how VA thinks-or forgets to. At a NOVA conference you meet others who encounter similar situations and react differently.  VA sends their USBs, Directors of C&P or the BVA’s Head Honcho VLJ who regale us with tales of unicorns and gold at the end of the rainbow. Being civilized, we refrain from calling each other names.  I notice the VASEC has never darkened NOVA’s door yet. This year it’s VLJ Cheryl Mason, Chairman of the BVA and David McLenachen, the director of the Appeals Management Office (AMO), formerly the AMC (and a wealth of other names like the Black Hole. or the Maelstrom of Edgar Allen Poe fame).

I nabbed a few pictures of the hoedown from the Sheraton’s site so I’m not purloining them for fun or profit. Pretty fancy but the chow hall is on the roof ? Arruuhh?

The best part is for last. After the conference, Cupcake and I are driving down to Georgia.  We’ll finally get to meet Dustoff Bruce “Almighty” McCartney and my good friend Shirley Medders and her family.

Check this one out…

 

P.S. Here, Vicki. Judge Davis in 2017 in San Antonio. I ‘d guess it will be one of the new ones. I’d give my eye teeth to meet my three-time  CAVC Greenhouse Ex Writ Judge  (Bartley). She’s NVLSP old school like Amy Odom and Bart.

Posted in 2019 SPRING NOVA Nashville., All about Veterans, KP Veterans, NOVA Attorneys, VA Agents, VA Attorneys, VBMS Tricks, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments