Dilley! Dilley!

The (l)east coast branch of asknod sends us this important observation that may sway our military’s hellbent rush towards drone usage in combat. What might be overlooked is drones never get hangovers (but the operator might), go AWOL (except that one in Iran) or demand a costly sex change operation (Spec 4 Manning). Outside of that, they would seem to be a welcome panacea to the collateral damage of combat-related injuries.

Think of the possibilities. We could save millions on all those medals and the concomitant cost of dog and pony show awards ceremonies. We could eventually do away with the Veterans Administration and all their insufferable baggage. The possible exception might be numerous compensation claims for operators’ carpal tunnel syndrome or incurable STDs. Success in war would essentially devolve down to the old adage of “He with the most toys wins.”

The downside would be increased global warming and starvation due to the explosive growth of populations normally decimated by war. Another vewpoint:

This just in from Ace Jewell, CDR, USN (ret.) now about 88 years old and a fighter pilot in three wars.


” Drones will not be late to briefings,

start fights at happy hour,

Destroy the Officer’s Club Stag Bar,

attempt to seduce others’ dates,

purchase huge, garish watches,

insult other military services,

sing ‘O’Leary’s Balls’ whilst dancing on tables,

yell ‘Show us yer tits!” or do

all the other things that win wars.

As such, I see no future in them”.

Wiser words were never spoken. Dilley! Dilley!


Posted in Future Veterans, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

VA kidney doc refers to shocking chronic kidney disease (CKD) VISN 2 study (New York region)

“Dr. Anna Jovanovich is a nephrologist at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System in Denver. Her research focuses on cardiovascular health in Veterans who have chronic kidney disease. (Photo by Shawn Fury)” VA text and photo CLICK to see abstract, then choose full text.


Sometimes VA emails contain information and news about their research that is valuable for us to read.  For example, 34.3-47.3% of veterans in VISN 2 network have chronic kidney disease (CKD).  The ROs are located in Buffalo and New York City and Buffalo was very involved in this targeted regional research. The BVA also seems unaware of these remarkable and terrible statistics based on the decisions I’ve read.

Study population: VISN 2 individuals seen.  Number: 75,787  Scope: One year in 2007.

Study title:

Prevalence of various comorbidities among veterans with chronic kidney disease and its comparison with other datasets  (link to study in Journal Renal Failure Volume 38, 2016 – Issue 2–published online Dec. 15, 2015.)

“The prevalence of CKD varied depending on the number of eGFR values used. Based on the MDRD equation using two values of eGFR, the prevalence of CKD was 34.3%, while it was 47.3% by MDRD equation using one eGFR value. The prevalence of CKD in the veteran population is much higher than estimated in US population from the NHANES and KEEP datasets.”

VISN 2 New York area CLICK IMAGE to go to this


Definition of CKD calls for two consecutive measurements of eGFR < 60 mL/min per 1.73m2 that are at least three months apart… we have also calculated prevalence of CKD as the ratio of patients with at least two outpatient eGFRs less than 60 mL/min/1.73m2, at least 90 days apart, prior to the end of March 2008 (the numerator) to the total number of the study population (MDRD-2).

Ten years on–How are the RO’s applying this information, if at all, for VISN 2 vets?  With up to 47.3% of veterans diagnosed by the VA with chronic kidney disease, are they getting justice or are they likely to live long enough to get justice?

Let’s look at four kidney cancer BVA decisions based on claims originally rejected by VISN 2 ROs.

RO NYC:  Citation Nr: 1815713 ( 03/16/18)  Kidney cancer; DAV did not do their homework;  RO lost his records;  Vet suspects asbestos exposure; Had two IMOs.  Benefit-of-the-doubt? Denied by Lesley A. Rein, VLJ

Buffalo RO:  Citation Nr: 1734058 (08/18/17) VVA–renal (kidney) and prostate cancer +

Remanded by Michael Martin, VLJ.

RO NYC/RO Kentucky Citation Nr: 1806565 (02/01/18)

Atty, Stephen J. Wenger, Camp Lejeune CUE WIN with

Matthew W.  Blackwelder, VLJ

Buffalo RO–Citation Nr: 1749918 (11/02/17).

kidney cancer, secondary to prostate; VVA

” Veteran may establish service connection based on exposure to herbicide agents with proof of actual direct causation.”  Second remand
Nathan Kroes, VLJ

Somehow I doubt that this old study is going to be updated any time soon–it’s too damning.  With statistics like this, CKD should be presumptive in VISN 2 and would be if similar studies have been done elsewhere.  There may be unpublished and published studies out there.  How likely are non-VA kidney doctors to know about research?

This year we learned that my old Marine has stage three kidney disease and therefore his diet has had to change. We are in VISN 1.  Plattsburgh NY is about 26 miles from our place by road, causeway and ferry.  My guess is that VISN 1 also has high CKD numbers because it takes many weeks to get an appointment with a private specialist.

Thank you to VA Dr. Anna Jovanovich for your interview and for your work in Denver, Colorado.  We need more people like you to help veterans. If you’re shocked at the data, so should we be.  This study provides backup for the VISN 2 veterans who suspect that their CKD is service-connected.  They are probably right based on the 2007 statistics in comparison with the civilian population in their region for the same period as shown in the study tables.  If anyone thinks I’m reading this all wrong, do comment because I have zero training in any field related to medical science.


Posted in All about Veterans, BvA Decisions, Camp Lejeune poisoning, CUE, Food for thought, Future Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, Lawyering Up, Medical News, non-va care, Remanded claims, research, Uncategorized, VA Health Care, vA news, VA statistics, VSOs | Tagged , , | 3 Comments


Agent Orange claimed another of my brethren Sunday. We will lay him to rest today at noon. Bob came to me after he discovered his VSO had been funning him for a few decades. I was fortunate enough to get him 100% P&T for all of six days before his passing. Now the real battle begins for his widow. Leave no one behind, gentlemen. None.

Sgt. (E-5) Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, Purple Heart Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, RVN Campaign Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with OLC and Good Conduct Medal. 11 Bravo

Posted in 4th of July, Agent Orange, AO, Inspirational Veterans, KP Veterans, Milestones | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

JULY 4TH, 2018

While this may be America’s day to celebrate our Independence, it always brings back a fond memory of old. After arriving on the Indochinese Peninsula in early May ’70, I discovered vast quantities of  5.56 mm x 39 mm tracers in ammo cans scattered about at our operating location. Seems the troops weren’t overly fond of them and stripped them out of the magazines. Ours were loaded in the 16th, 17th and 18th position in the 20-round mags to remind us we were on the verge of shooting our weapon dry. Considering we were Air Force, we were presumed to know how to count. I don’t mean that as an affront to the other military services, but it was somewhat of an insult to the cream of America’s fighting forces.

Being a fond adherent of all things explosive, I racked my brains trying to find any possible use for all these wasted pyrotechnics. I liked irritating my fellow servicemen by throwing them into the fire in the evening occasionally. This has an important, twofold purpose. It keeps you at a high level of operational readiness and primed for combat should the need arise. A lot of folks seem to think this is dangerous. Not true. The round merely explodes harmlessly and gives you PTSD. There is no downside as far as I can see.

click to magnify. click twice to really magnify

Shortly before the 4th, my sister sent me a brand spanking new Model 19 S&W .357 and  500 rounds of 158-grain jacketed hollowpoints.  $85.38 new in that signature blue box with splendid Cherry grips. Being in that certain neutral country to the north of Thailand that rhymes with ‘mouse’, we pretty much carried whatever we wanted for personal defense and certainly weren’t limited to using GI-issue ball ammunition. I chose the .357 for its knockdown power. All my friends seemed to think Browning Hi-Power 9 mms with thirteen-plus-one in the chamber were the dernier cri in self-defense. I disagree. From my experience, all a 9 mm did was piss a gook off if it didn’t hit something solid. Murphy’s Law of Ballistics guarantees it won’t.

.45 ACP’s were the cat’s pajamas for sheer blunt force trauma if you could manage to hit anything with them. As near as I could tell, the only reason they put sights on a .45 was to make it look more aerodynamic. The downside to all semi-automatic weapons, both long and short, was the insidious, fine red clay powder that gummed up everything- including our fuel lines in our aircraft.  Before monsoon began, every time a chopper came in to land it stirred up tons of the dust. The dust gummed up everything it got into. You could blow it out of your nose every evening and see just what you were inhaling. In addition, all that fine particulate carried our old friends Agents Blue and Orange. But that’s another story.

For that reason, and the fact that in a pinch there were tons of .38 ball ammo lying around, I chose a .357. You couldn’t jam a wheel gun.  Quite simply, it couldn’t get a smokestack round at the worst possible moment and what’s more,  I noticed folks who encountered a hit anywhere on their body tended to stay put.  Pathet Lao didn’t just get up and keep running after being inoculated with a JHP. I don’t think I need to remind any of you who were participants of the  Vietnamese Boundary Dispute how disconcerting it is to have your weapon jamb. In those moments your brain seizes up and you just keep pulling the trigger and wondering why you’re not getting any reciprocal bang. It takes about ten seconds to sink in.

Back to all those tracers. Included in my care package from my sister, I found several 30-round mags for an M-16. These were becoming available back in the World about that time. We wouldn’t see them in the military for another decade. The gun shop in downtown San Francisco, which went out of business (or more likely was run out on a rail later), threw them in as a bonus for buying the ammo and a nice shoulder holster. Several months later, I bought out their entire stock of  30-rounders. You could barter them for 5 cartons of Marbs or two fifths of Johnny Walker Black.

Well, it didn’t take me more than a few seconds to think up a nifty way to celebrate the Fourth. I promptly packed both mags with tracers and awaited nightfall. As expected, they created two of the most gorgeous rainbows of bright orange. Everyone thought that was cool beans. It’s too bad we didn’t have tracers like the gooks. They had bright green ones. I used to watch them arc up to greet us as we flew over with envy. After I emptied the mags, I noticed the barrel was positively glowing like the element on a stove turned up to high. I even lit my Marb on it. The three-pronged roachclip on the end of the barrel even had a slight glow. Remember them? I always admired Colt Industries for being thoughtful enough to put that accessory on there for us.

The next day I broke the rifle in two and began cleaning it. After swabbing out the barrel, I dutifully looked down it to make sure it was clean. Boy howdy was it. Clean-as in I’d shot the twist clean out of it. We’re talking smooth bore here. One of my buds was preparing to clean his weapon too so I volunteered to do it seeing’s as I had the Hoppe’s #9 and the patches already out. Since Larry wore glasses thicker than coke bottle bottoms and was blind without them, I switched out our barrels. I doubted he cared one way or another.  I never did figure out if it was the tracers or just 60 rounds in 8 seconds that erased the twist.

click to magnify

I love tracers. I even found an outfit down in Las Vegas that manufactures red and green .223s but they’re pretty pricey at 75¢ a pop so we save them for special occasions like… yep, the Fourth of July. My next door neighbor doesn’t share my enthusiasm but what the hey? I’m not doing it for his entertainment. Who says shit stays in Vegas?

When I DEROS’d in ’72, I was offered $200 for the revolver. No dice. I still have it. My son tried to hornswoggle me out of it, too. I found another at a gun show and bought it for him. My attachment to this weapon is complete. It’s like an American Express card. Don’t leave home without it. I’ll be buried with it if I have my druthers. I’m not sure how that works if you’re cremated.

click to magnify

Congratulations to my new Veteran 100% P&T Chicken Dinner Winners this week. VA has been bery bery goot to me-Bob Livingstone, Bob Green and Roberto Perez-Soto. They must be having a special on Bobs this week. Sadly, Bob Livingstone passed on the First from AO cancer. We’re falling like flies. So what does Congress do? Give Blue Water Navy guys presumptive who were 40 miles from the nearest spray operation. Okay, I’ll bite. What about all my brothers in Thailand, Okinawa and Guam who were actually getting it on (and in) them? And we wonder if there’s intelligent life at 810 Vermont Ave. NW.


Cupcake and I wish you all a very Happy, well-illuminated 4th with many more to come.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Posted in 4th of July, All about Veterans, Humor, KP Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


Jerrel and John have graciously invited me on for another show. This should be interesting. I’d like to teach all of you how to weaponize your claims so you can’t lose. Yep. You read that correctly. Yesterday morning I had two different 800 Dial-A-Prayer (800-827-1000) conversations going at the same time-one from Fort Fumble in Montana and one from my local Travel Board hearing contact Tammy at the Seattle Puzzle Palace. That’s a first. Time to buy more phone lines…

Best of all, I can’t seem to lose.  I’ve had a few setbacks on timelines to completions in the Vets’ favor but no outright denials. And boy howdy, when the Travel Board Hearing whizbang calls to tell me a DRO is tossing in TDIU after only a six-month argument over how ill my Vet is, well, I know I’ve “arrived” in this business. She also was begging me to drop the rest of the appeal! Screw them. Why didn’t the DRO call me herself ? Mind you, I’m not bragging but it seems I’ve found the Rosetta Stone on how to prosecute VA claims.

I might not make much money filing for the obvious and winning before it gets to the NOD stage but that’s good. I don’t have the time and don’t need the money. Oddly, after looking at the “Client Board ” above my desk, I see (gasp) vacancies to take on more claims. I do hope this doesn’t engender you folks in a mad dash to the email to swamp me but it does appear my own personal backlog is abating. If VA continues to keep throwing in the towel every time I file a NOD, I’m going to be disappointed. I enjoy using all that legal knowledge to write sound, scathing epiphanies on why my Vets should prevail. No one (except me) takes pleasure in making DROs squirm and have to admit they’re wrong. I will say they are gracious in defeat rather than obstreperous, adversarial and angry.

Be there or be square.  Mark your calendars for the day after tomorrow at 1900 Hrs on the Least Coast, or, if you’re more blue-blooded than red, at 1600 Hours on the Left Coast. For those in middle America, I ask you to use your mathematical skills to interpolate the correct time difference.

The call in number, unless Jerrel and John are funning me, remains …

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

 Remember the mantra- Leave no Veteran behind. If you have the ability to help, do so. Even if it’s only to send them to or for more info.

P.S. More on the Darwinian theory of Evolution



Posted in SVR Radio on | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments


Humor strikes me when you give me the ammo. And Least Coast Bruce (Almighty) just sent me the mother lode of fishing chuckles. In addition, at the end you will find some choice tidbits from my old friend Smoke. Life is good at the cusp of the Summer equinox. My heart has ceased misbehaving. Cupcake is over her mid-life crisis and sanity seems to be returning to our great nation. 

I’d like to say thank you to Roberto Perez-Soto of San Juan Puerto Rico allowing me to  shepherd him to permanent and total. In addition, we have other, local chicken dinner winners near me here-Bob in Puyallup, Bob in Lakebay, Wayne in Montana and Stefan in San Diego. Seems VA is writing more S, R1 and R2 ratings since I received my accreditation. And well they should. Far too few of you understand how the SMC Mississippi River flows. I take great pleasure in teaching VA how to read their own regs. But I digress from  my favorite subject-Veteran Humor…

Hey. Come on, guys. She’s wearing a flotation device.


Here’s some of Smoke’s I purloined off his Face Place feed.

The Ottoman Wars

Life is so much better with humor.

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

Posted in Humor, KP Veterans, VA Agents | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Recently, to everyone’s surprise even at 810 Yellow Brick Road NW, the VA, without so much as a by your leave, arbitrarily changed the the name of our favorite DC black hole. I speak, of course, of the Appeals Management Center, or as it has been affectionately  known since 2001, the AMC. Seems this occurred just about the time all that discord began over Shulkin’s trip to visit the European Regional Offices. 

Conjecture abounds as to why this was done and equally, as to what ARC stands for. That enigmatic ‘R’ has VA acronym pundits awash in rampant speculation. Answers abound but VA SES hierarchy are keeping their cards close to their chest.

The history of the AMC is pretty straightforward. With the gradual rise in the number of better-informed Veterans in the age of the internet, and sites like Theresa Aldrich’ 1997,  so, too, has the number of Veterans Appeals increased. In spite of VSO  attempts in decades past to suppress this knowledge, the frequency of appeals dramatically increased after the passage of the VJRA in 1988.

By 1994, the Board of Veterans Appeals was forced to deal with this increase in a most unusual way. Rather than hire more Veterans Law Judges (VLJs), their twenty Boards of three each began essentially what we would call “memorandum decisions ” i.e. a Board of one single judge. The holding in Colvin v. Derwinski sounded the death knell for the  twenty “super VLJs” (Medical doctors with Juris Doctorates) and they were phased out. This tripled the numbers of decisions generated…for a while.

As most know, with the inception of the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), electronic records became the norm. VA was the last government holdout to go paperless. Following that electronic freedom came the miraculous Fully Developed Claim (FDC) with a 125-day guarantee of 98% accuracy. All most of us could see was a 98% guarantee of a need to appeal the denied 125-day claim. I penned this joke way back when not knowing the VA would plagiarize my idea.

So, the Big Brother to the FDC is now the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program or RAMP. You lose your expedited claim and now lose your expedited appeal in near-record time. Pretty soon, this will be perfected into a drive-thru window approach. You pull up to the first window and submit the claim. In about four minutes or so, you arrive around the corner at the delivery window to find out what you won- if anything. It’s instant gratification VA-style. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the same experience as the  drive-thru at McFlougal’s® or a scratch-off lottery ticket. It’s more akin to the buildup and hooplah of a Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes™- a lot of mail and very little substance.

And here’s where the AMC used to come in. VA raters and their ilk at the Fort Fumbles across the Fruited Plains are sloppy. Sometimes they bifurcate your claims and grant some only to deny or defer others. You file the NOD to get a higher rating but VA hasn’t even opined on your deferred claims. All of a sudden, the VA 8 is issued certifying your appeal to DC. It arrives there with some unfinished business- those deferred claims.  Used to be the AMC would dutifully deny them and issue the required Statement of the Case (SOC) thus “perfecting” the disputed items.

With the massive increase in claimants, due, no doubt, to the endless Iraqistan War, more and more mistakes at the regional level were being committed. The AMC was invented to “clean up” a Veteran’s  appeal posture. Remands back to the Regional Fort Fumbles could take a year. It was conjectured by VA bean counters that the time could be cut in half if the BVA had their own Regional Office Appeals Team with the authority to screw up what the Regional Folks were screwing up daily. And it came to pass in VAland that the 57th RO was born in DC- VBAWASH397.

By 2013, Brigadier General Allison Hickey (Ret.) had the FDC in full swing and the BVA began noticing a marked uptick in the incoming mail. Seems like every Tom, Dick and Hilda was filing an appeal. It stands to reason. The FDC  model of claims jurisprudence was throwing out the baby with the bathwater… and the bathtub, for that matter. No amount of remanding to the AMC was going to cure those regional Puzzle Palaces of neglecting to “develop a claim to its optimum.” So, the BVA began giving as good as they were getting. In a tit-for-tat, the AMC began remanding back to the ROs in East Bumfork, Wyoming or Denial, Michigan and telling them to repair their own g__ d____ed  submissions and return them when completed. This incidentally made the BVA look good because each remand was a “decision” -albeit a temporary one- awaiting a repair. It effectively hid the problem until about 2016 when it became obvious the BVA was inundated in unadjudicated appeals. There was simply no more warehouse space any closer in than Bethesda. They’d rented it all by now to store those 173,000 appeals. Yep. Them appeals are piling up like rabbits in summer.

With the inauguration of the National Work Queue (NWQ), all the claims are now in a basket like a Bingo Ball tumbler. Specialized claims for Camp LeJeune  go to Nashville. RAMP claims all go to Seattle. Each RO is becoming a Master of one trade and a Jack of none of the others. Pretty soon if you need a spouse or a dependent added to your entitlement, it’ll probably be done by one of these Specialty ROs. I ‘d guess Sioux Falls South Dakota’s Veterans Service Center because they have a hard time counting over ten without taking off their shoes. Fortunately, most of you aren’t big Catholic or Mormon families or this might be a two-year dealbreaker. We can see where it’s headed, though. If everyone opted into RAMP, the Seattle ratings section would seize up from overload. But not! They’ll just throw it back into the NWQ. It’s an awesome device. If there was no accountability before, you should see it in the present vacuum of leadership.

Which finally brings us back to the ARC. Knowledgeable minds-as opposed to reasonable minds- cannot agree on just what the R in ARC stands for. Much like the fustercluck over the new Ihob© rebranding, VA is letting America’s imagination run wild as to what it could mean.

Suggestions are coming in at a record pace. Appeals Resource Center ? Appeals Responsibility Center? Appeals Remand Center? Appeals Regurgitation Center? Appeals Respite Center? Appeals Retribution Center? Appeals Redistribution Center? Who knows? We need a Table of Organization that’s more up to date than the M 21 1MR (Revised 1778, 1812, 1866, 1918, 1945, 1955, 1975, 1982, 1991,  2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 (pending) in order to decypher the acronym.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Posted in AMC or ARC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments