NOVA-LET THE GAMES BEGIN

Hooooo doggies. There’s nothing more fun than learning about VA law unless it’s stopping in Nevada on the way and winning a lot of money. Driving long distances (in this case 3,000 miles one-way) allows you to see America at ground level. It’s extremely difficult to do so at 35,000 ASL.

2017-04-20 11.14.49 HDR.jpg

Cupcake’s big adventure in Laughlin. Look at the machine, not her ticket.

2017-04-16 17.38.10.jpg

Having a loving wife like Cupcake for a navigator is a definite plus. I’d be in Tijuana by now without her. I haven’t been to San Antonio since October 1969 for Basic training at Lackland AFB. In the intervening forty nine years, some Rocket boy in the Texas DOT decided to create parallel roads alongside every major Interstate highway. Google maps, in turn, determined it was acceptable to reroute us onto these one-way highways miles before our hotels along the way- in one case, a full seventeen miles before the easy, logical exit. Other times we followed the instructions and found ourselves doing a u-turn under the freeway in these neatsy keen lanes under the overpass specifically designed for this aberration and returning five miles back to the hotel on the other side of the freeway. In desperation, we’ve had to give up Google as a religion and figure it out by chance. I’m not going to comment on the logic of duplicating that much asphalt but it gives new meaning to ‘what were they thinking?’. Why not just build eight-lane freeways and call it good?Navigating under these circumstances tries men’s souls to say the least. One is not permitted to blame the navigator nor discuss the qualifications of the copilot. Bad form and all.

I am blessed, nevertheless,  inasmuch as I finally get to meet many of you who taught me my tradecraft on these odysseys. For each one who came to me with an intractable problem and asked for help, I was forced to learn the reason for the denial, the statutes and regulations concerning it, and the proper tools to cut the Gordian Knot. As you can see, it finally culminated in becoming a nonattorney practitioner out of necessity to preserve my own VA compensation. VA has an inane law that forbids us to help one another more than once in a lifetime. How that squares up with their version of ‘nonadversarial’ is anyone’s guess. After about 500 or more ‘ghost’ wins, it was becoming a dicey proposition for me to pretend ignorance any longer.

From my east coast sidekick and ILP guru Bruce Almighty, I include the following humor for you. Any droll subject like VA law definitely needs some levity to make it palatable. With no offense to Cupcake, I republish these in no particular order…

 

 

Posted in 2017 NOVA Conference, VA Agents, VA Attorneys | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MR. ENSMINGER: “What the hell?”

The name, Sargent Jerry Ensminger, will be familiar to veterans following the Camp Lejeune tragedy through the film, or the Janey Ensminger Act, which honors his deceased child.

On January 21, 2017, he participated in the public CAMP LEJEUNE COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE PANEL (CAP) MEETING (link).  The verbatim transcript (126 pages) allows us to listen in on reps from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) , Dept of Navy,  National Cancer Institute, Department of Veterans Affairs Compensation Service.Office of Disability and Medical Assessment with VHA,  chief consultant for health services, Veterans’ Affairs,  VA program manager for the family member program for Camp Lejeune and the public.

It gets heated. Here are a few misc. quotes we can all relate to because the C & P certified examiners for Lejeune are called Subject Matter Experts (SME) after four days of VA training and reading homework.  A scam and a disgrace.

—————

MR. ENSMINGER: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t mind you guys coming up with something like a subject matter  expert program, but for God’s sake, if you’re going to  call them subject matter experts hire subject matter experts, because the evidence that we’ve got, these people are anything but subject matter experts, the lion’s share of them. Hardly any of them are trained in environmental exposures. They didn’t even major in that, and they’re not certified for that. Most of them are family practitioners. And when you’ve got people that say that they have reviewed all the meta- analysis for two decades’ worth of well-conducted scientific studies and can find no evidence that TCE causes any kind of cancer, let alone kidney cancer,  and denies two kidney cancer claims, with that rhetoric in it — he didn’t deny them, but that was his opinion, and the SME was never overruled by any claim reviewer I’ve seen. And that was in 2015. TCE  was re-evaluated to be a known human carcinogen in  2011 and, by IARC and the EPA. And the strongest  evidence for reclassifying it as a known human carcinogen was for renal cell carcinoma. Kidney cancer, for God’s sake.

MR. ENSMINGER: Yeah, but we’ve got veterans who are submitting doctors — from their oncologist to the VA in support of their claims, and the subject matter experts are overruling them, and the guy has his — is certified as a family practitioner.

MR. PARTAIN: Not only are they overruling them, they’re actually challenging and writing these doctors to have them explain why they wrote their letter in the first place.

MR. ENSMINGER: It’s like I said when I started. I don’t have a problem with you having a subject matter expert but I don’t want Ernest T. Bass being an expert.

MR. ENSMINGER: Well, and I got a question for  you. Rather than calling these people subject matter experts — when you tell me that you’re having the whole training sessions while these people have been  anointed as so-called subject matter experts, if you’re training them, they’re not subject matter  experts in anything. You know, he —

MS. FRESHWATER: Jerry, can I — I don’t want my  question to get lost. Can we just go back to the transparency issue? Can you directly address how —

MR. ENSMINGER: What the hell?

MS. FRESHWATER: — any changes you’ve made about transparency? Because I didn’t hear any of that.

DR. DINESMAN: What do you mean by transparency?  What are you looking for?

MS. FRESHWATER: Well, people should have a right to know who the —

MR. ENSMINGER: Who these guys are.

MS. FRESHWATER: — subject matter expert is.  People should have a right to know what went into these decisions.

MR. TEMPLETON: … To Dr. Dinesman, as far as SME names, they’re not on the reports that get sent out to the veteran. Instead — about the only place that you can find them, there’s two ways, if you request a C-file, there in the case file, if you do a 19 FOIA for that, you’ll get the notes, ’cause they’re in  there;…

———–

Well, so much here…if you want transparency too, these demands are a good model.

As the Lancet wrote (April 2012)

There is one thing of which there is no doubt: the water at the Camp Lejeune Marine base in North Carolina, USA, was contaminated. It was poisoned from 1957 to 1987; perhaps a million people were exposed to it. …The water contained more than 20 times the safe levels of tetrachloroethylene and a scarcely credible 280 times the safe level of trichloroethylene, both of which are carcinogenic.

pdf.   CAP transcript_1_17_508 (1)  Thirty-sixth meeting.

Posted in C&P exams, Camp Lejeune poisoning, Food for thought, Future Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, Obtaining a C-file, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

ILP-MEANS TEST FOR GREENHOUSE?

Yesterday morning, a Saturday, I was greeted by an email from my Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) assigned to me regarding my ILPs (plural). Remember, VR&E asshats will try desperately to convince us that we are entitled to one (1) ILP intercession in our lifetimes. Hogwash. I’m deep into my second one and adding on frivolous requests as I go. My latest was a request for two years of the NVLSP Veterans Benefits Manual valued at $350-ish per year. I know. It’s peanuts financially but it keeps those VR&E chuckleheads in paroxysms of depression. The kicker is that they agreed to it! Gee. Maybe I should ask for a ’67 GTO with a blower and N2O for Veterans Day parades. 

Observing them trying to figure out how to deny each new item is almost as entertaining as the look on their faces when you keep adding to the list. The best denial yet was saying I cannot be given Veterans Benefits Manuals because they are a “vocational need” rather than an “avocational pursuit”. I demolished that with the observation that I can always aspire to work even if the unvarnished reality is that I am incapable of work. I’m sure the conundrum of my being a newly minted VA nonattorney practitioner while being found incapable of employment escaped their minds up to now. Which is why I write this article today.

Apparently, it just dawned on VR&E that I actually am gainfully employed. WTF, over? This revelation provoked an interesting response I’ve never encountered before from VA. Keep in mind that when (or if) you ever apply for pension based on non-service connected (NSC) ailments or injuries, you undergo a “means test” of your assets. The burning question is ‘how much do you earn from SSI/SSDI, own or control in liquid assets or possess in negotiable stocks and bonds, real estate holdings and the whole panoply of goodies like dirt bikes, boats, jet skis et cetera. If this means test reveals you are a fat cat, you will never be approved for a VA pension until you divest or bequeath these assets to heirs. Poverty is the operable phrase in pensions.

The value of a pension, if there is one, is to a destitute Veteran with a meagre income from his SSI monthly stipend. Often, a 100% pension for NSC disabilities ($3078.11 per month) is far higher than  that vaunted SSI “dividend”. This has created a large business opportunity for VA attorneys to help Veterans obtain same. Nevertheless, the codicils to qualify for a nonservice connected pension do not apply to the Veteran who receives VA compensation. There is no offset or deduction for other earnings such as a state pension for a twenty-year career as a teacher. Quite simply, you can collect VA compensation, social security payments and a teacher’s pension- all concurrently. In fact, if you were a lifer in the Army and did your 20 years, you would be entitled to concurrent receipt of your Army pension as well if you had a 100% schedular-rated disability. We won’t discuss double dipping here as it is inapplicable to my dissertation today.

As I mentioned, I received an epistle from my VRC , Kris Holloway that shocked me. Did I mention I was shocked? Mr. Holloway was asking for a complete financial accounting of not only myself but my wife, our mutual extensive holdings corporations, mortgage balances and anything else that would shed light on my/our net worth. Ruh-oh Rorge… a means test for my greenhouse? With the incipient settlement of Butch Long’s claims from LZ Cork that have festered for 47 years comes the dawning revelation that VR&E may want to make me go out and buy my own damn greenhouse. In their tortured minds, anyone who is unemployable (but actually is) and in receipt of an ILP must be doing something verboten. The obvious repair order is to throw a financial disclosure request at them, unmask the truth and eighty six the ILP- or so the thinking goes. Here’s what I got…

Posted in 2017 NOVA Conference, All about Veterans, Independent Living Program, KP Veterans, NOVA Attorneys, VA Agents | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

NOVA–SPRING MUSINGS FOR SAN ANTONIO

NOVA, the National Organization of Veterans Advocates, holds its annual spring conferences out west here. Cowboy hats are optional. This being the third I will be attending, it dawned on me why it’s almost tantamount to an annual Hajj to Mecca. I feel impelled to attend not simply because I need the Continuing Legal Education(CLE) hours demanded by the Office of General Counsel (OGC 22D) but by the camaraderie of meeting old friends and making new ones. Moreover, one gets an opportunity to have one’s picture taken with a famous amos Vet lawyer, a VLJ or the occasional CAVC Judge. A cell phone is an amazing tool.

Ken Carpenter et moi (2016)

SquareBob “Lawpants” Walsh, me, Chris Attig (2016)

Three Caballeros of the Internet- Asknod, Attig Law and DisabledVet.org (2016)

Me, CAVC Judge Alan Lance and VLJ Bradley Hennings (2016)

Of more concern to me was why we all convene at these social constructs. Until our enlightened Congress passed a law back on June 10th, 2007, it was against the law for a Veterans attorney to charge a Vet a dime more than ten dollars US. The law had remained on the books since the presidency of Abraham Lincoln with nary a bump for COLA increases. As you can imagine, it was a wide-open field for wanna be pro bono leagle beagles. Sadly, you cannot eat altruism. You cannot pay the mortgage with good intentions and the market for full-time free legal help is always desperate for volunteers. EAJA fees don’t even cover the airfare or hotel room for a hearing.

Congress remedied this to a certain extent. Real, talented legal help is yours for the taking- just as soon as you lose the first time. It’s like coming up to bat and the umpire loudly exclaims “Strike one” before the pitcher even throws the ball. You suddenly have two opportunities (instead of three) with which to prove your claim with adequate legal counsel. I’m not complaining, mind you. Two is better than none or a last-ditch effort at the Court of Veterans Appeals to get a vacatur or set aside to build it correctly all over again. We’re angling to be remunerated at the beginning but I expect that’ll be a big donnybrook all by itself far in the future-if ever.

The incredible sequence of events that led me here was VA telling me I’d never been in Vietnam. You can call me late to dinner; you can call me a retard; you could probably go so far as to tell me to get lost but calling me a liar would be a mistake. Doing it twice or more will give me the distinct impression we are not going to be BFFs.  It took eighteen years to make them eat those words. 2019 will mark 30 years of warfare and still I am fighting- albeit legally for others now.

Ham and Perry

Being allowed to help Veterans is a sacred gift. Every win is another knife in their back with a smile on my face. Each altercation is done civilly as if we are denizens of  a polite ‘Mizz Manners’ upbringing. We all smile and shake hands as only Perry Mason and Hamilton Burger did every Thursday night at 8PM Eastern in the 50’s. Personally, I have no problem acting civilized to a Decision Review Officer. My first inclination will always be to inquire if there is anyone with a higher-than- room-temperature IQ on the 12th Floor at the Seattle RO. Knowing rhetorical questions need no answer allows me to squelch that thought. Rather, being polite gives me that warm, sensuous fuzzy feeling only a cat can describe while toying with a mouse in its grasp. You know you’re going to prevail by intelligence alone. Time is the only downside. It doesn’t weigh so heavily on those of us who have prevailed. However, I do know what it feels like personally before the final success. It’s extremely depressing and worrisome and understandably so.

NOVA has a large number of far thinkers like Keith Snyder who convened their first meeting in 1993 at a Baltimore Holiday Inn. We’ve come a long way, baby. We are 500-strong now according to the published NOVA literature. Our success rate on claims has increased exponentially over VSO-represented Veterans in the last ten years (over 35% just at the BVA and 74% at the CAVC). We continue to learn new techniques in legal Jiu Jitsu and how to take the best impromptu selfies. Attorneys and agents are also responsible drinkers and rarely make asses out of themselves. That’s a major plus at a big gathering.

The enduring question is why we even need an organization like NOVA. Most nations would be grateful to their citizen soldiers like the Greeks in the centuries before Roman domination. That an agency of Government erected solely for the purpose of protecting and nurturing our injured would inflict so many obstacles to proper remuneration and stoically intone “For he who shall have borne the battle…” whilst waiting for him to die and denying him benefits is the worst kind of hypocrisy. That it requires yet another host of defenders to bring justice to bear or charitable institutions to defray life’s costs is equally horrendous. Lastly, it speaks volumes that Congress never addressed this with the VJRA enacted in 1988 and it languished several decades until 2007. Why offer access to the Federal Courts if you enucleate the right to attract quality paid legal help at the outset?

Many of the hierarchy among Veterans Service Organizations consider us to be bloodsuckers and ambulance chasers. As a general rule, most of us charge 20% of the retroactive winnings. Some are prone to charge up to 33%. Since I don’t have a student loan of $225,000 or an overhead of a storefront office plus personnel, I don’t have to charge full freight. I feel overwhelmed if I have more than 20 Veterans on my dance card. Think about that from the standpoint of a VSO having 250 and literally having no time to return their calls. Hell, I take Vets  to their c&ps lots of times. If they’re broke, I tide them over with a grubstake. I’m not the regular run-of-the-mill Vet Rep but then there are no defining rules, are there? Contemplate the below.

NEW TECHNIQUES FOR VA ADVOCATES

In 2007, I reported for a c&p for Hepatitis and Porphyria. I dragged along a bunch of stuff from other doctors. Both doctors said “I’m really not supposed to look at these but I’d like to make a copy.” I always bring them a copy.  They quickly secrete them in their desks. Doctors are very insecure and unsure of themselves and their diagnoses. They prefer to describe themselves as ‘practicing medicine’ rather than ‘performing’ it.  They could no more turn away (and turn to a pillar of salt) and ignore what you bring. Many times it focuses the disease or injury in their minds more clearly such that they are more sympathetic to your plight. I consider it my impersonal asknod DBQ.  After all, am I not simply embracing VA’s unofficial motto: “All’s fair in love and war” ? Ex parte justice isn’t as immutable as VA would contend. Remember, the object is to grant the Vet anything he is entitled to by law. Information is King to this enterprise.

During Butch Long’s numerous C&Ps, I again began hauling in relevant documents, both medical and military, to his Compensation and Pension Exams and handing them to the doctors/shrinks etc. I pointedly kept them out of sight at the front desk so as to avoid a confrontation. VA advises you to neeeeeever take anything in with you. I’ve also been denied entrance with the Veteran. I merely brandish my (non)attorney status as his counsel and they acquiesce instantly. This allows me to interject comments sotto voce if the client overlooks something important. At Butch’s second eye c&p several weeks ago, I laid into the ophthalmologist and chewed him out for not annotating that Butch’s  2013 cataract surgery, which I’d left him to read in 2015, noted two retained metal fragments. That deprived him of  a 10% rating. It so rattled Dr. Eyeballs that he got out the biiiiig magnifying glass and discovered not two but nine retained foreign bodies and aphakia (loss of lens) from the 1969 injury. I’m sure his QTC writeup is going to be explosive this time around. I even got a lukewarm apology for his earlier mistake and a  hearty TY4YS for Butch.  They change their tune when you wave that Purple Nurple certificate under their noses. I get that. I’m sure there are Veterans too numerous to count who come in with wild, unsubstantiated outlandish tales.

Officer Friendly

I’ve always tried to stretch what you can do legally. I believe my record is 112 mph in a 55 with no jail time. Mr. Law Enforcement Officer graciously reduced it to a 100 in a 55 with the codicil I promise to not contest it and pay the $498 ticket. Unless, or until, VA tells me it’s against the law to bring in material evidence and share it with the doc, you can almost predict I’ll continue showing up with a file cabinet on a hand truck. And if no one tells me I can’t interject comments during a bent brain c&p, you can be sure I’m going to bark like a dog. Vets are already given a shady deal in this game with one hand tied behind their back. Any possible high ground I can attain is a given. Until they begin frisking us at the door, I’m going to continue to engage in mission creep.

Cupcake to the Rescue

Fortunately, as a newly minted VA nonattorney practitioner, I have a secret weapon. Cupcake has been getting mighty restless doing real estate these last 20 years and has been talking about coming aboard as community organizer and Girl Friday. It’s either that or hire a FNG with a shiny new JD and zero legal preconceptions about VA law. This is a win-win deal and it doesn’t even require marriage. I’ve already consumed the most toxic substance on earth (wedding cake) twice and survived to talk about it. Truth be told, I’m probably the only guy you know who had an official Divorce reception replete with a three-tiered cake and a champagne fountain. Photography was forbidden, naturally. One never wants to further enrage the aggrieved party and pay a higher alimony.

The Cupcakemobile

Wheels up on Friday, April 14th. Deb claims the Cupcakemobile will make 1.65 lightspeed so we anticipate arriving Thursday afternoon the 13th. It’s far more entertaining  at low altitude and you get to see a broader slice of America and Americans. Truth be told, flying commercially while wearing an abdominal support scares the bejesus out of the TSA agents. Three of them surround you with blast shields and ask you to gingerly raise your shirt with your thumbs and index fingers only. They wipe your ‘belt’ down with little pieces of cloth and put them in a machine to detect any explosive residue. Several years ago, we were traveling home after the 2015 Hugfest in Magnet, Indiana and I’d been setting off fireworks while wearing one. I got everything but an MRI and a colonoscopy. We almost missed our flight. The other positive thing about driving is you can pack a firearm with fewer Imperial Entanglements. What? You travel without?  That’s uncivilized in this day and age.

See you in San Antonio, folks.  Road Trip!

 

 

Posted in 2017 NOVA Conference, All about Veterans, KP Veterans, NOVA Attorneys, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA Attorneys | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

ESKINAZI STRIKES AGAIN

Just when we thought ol’ Laura was going to quietly fade away in her new digs over at VA’s Human Resources, lightning strikes again. It’s sad to think that any VA employee would spend their time ruminating on how to scam even more money out of the most corrupt Agency in Foggy Bottom but nevertheless, she’s back in the news again. You go girl.

As for the VAOIG. their track record is unsullied by success so no one expected any earth-shattering revelations of wrongdoing. Installing a new Head Bullshitter (Missal) from within the ranks ensures this time-tested continuity trick. The OIG reminds me of the ARVN ‘green berets’ of their day in 1970.  We called them the ‘Look Long-Duck Backs’ which approximated the pronunciation of their outfit. They’d land in brand new Hueys and get out and light up a smoke. There would be a  heated discussion about recent VC activity and  the implications. Someone would take a gander with the binoculars and they’d saddle up and depart without so much as a LRRP. Read this one.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/06/exclusive-va-watchdog-promised-to-stop-misleading-congress-then-rewrote-report-to-hide-misconduct/

We did expect far more by now from our newly professed pro-Veteran President but his silence is becoming deafening. As for the new Vietnam Veterans’ official ‘Flag Day’ of March 29th, my reaction is “Really?” We elected Donbo to get an official “Welcome Home!” day? Are ya kidding me? 22 Vets are sucking on .38 calibre lead lollipops every day or ‘accidentally’ impacting concrete pillars holding up freeway overpasses at 80 mph and Congress unanimously passes another feel good measure in lieu of anything substantial?

Memorial Day weekend 1998-the second trip to the wall

America’s Veterans of all stripes, be they World War II, Korean, Vietnam or Southwest Asia, all have one thing in common. We suffer from the apathy and ennui a Nation eventually evinces after too much war for too long. Yellow ribbons around  aged oak trees are no panacea for the medical help we need. Flag days or official ‘days of recognition’ for those of us who survived the Vietnam Boundary Dispute are all well and fine if they focus Congress’ attention on far greater needed reforms. However, passing feel good legislation that accomplishes nothing more than evoking attaboys or shits and grins on our elected’s countenances is revolting. I personally could give a rat’s ass but I do feel sorry for those of my Brothers whom America has abandoned to their own devices. Americans spoke to me in the years following my return from Southeast Asia. The gist was that we were an embarrassment and an indelible stain on the American Psyche. Forty seven years later I get emails and phone calls from the disenfranchised who somehow were overlooked or denied. The numbers are staggering. One wonders who the VA has actually helped rather than the obverse of how many have been short-changed by their service.

Each succeeding war or conflict elicits chest-thumping speeches that promise Veterans much if they are injured. Redeeming these chimeras seems to be the  conundrum no one in Congress can unravel. There is no enigma- just a lack of financial intestinal fortitude among a majority to devote or allocate the money promised. Sadly, refugees get better treatment at our expense. Worse, there are no dearth of charities willing to feed like vultures off that collective societal guilt.

Frankly, I’m surprised Veterans, as a voting bloc, aren’t a little wiser  by now after a litany of promises that never materialized. As for this new ‘holiday’, it’s a bitchslap of immense proportions and further proof that our elected legislators are paralyzed from the neck up or impervious to our pleas for help. How a flag day can somehow suffice as  final payment in lieu of compensation or improved VHA medical services escapes me. But, as I mention, that Veterans are not up in arms and our legislators are not sufficiently appalled or motivated to fix the problem would appear to be the 8,000 lb. elephant sitting on the living room sofa. Either we lack a loud enough voice or Congress is deaf.

What will it take to provoke action? My era of Veterans don’t put much stock in social media and #Vetlivesmatter or occupying a park for a month and trashing it. We have far bigger fish to fry called rent, mortgage and physical/emotional survival. You can’t eat a hash tag regardless of how enticing  or appealing it may sound. Enough with the dog and pony shows and pass legislation that will address our grievances.

My ‘Vietnam Remembrance Day’ will always be the day they folded the tent and struck the colors-May 7th, 1975. Oh, yes. And thank you for your service. Welcome home, too.

P.S.  Some one emailed me and asked if Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) was a Vietnam Vet as he announced that March 29th, 1973 “had the most meaning” for Vets as that was the day the last combat Vets departed  from Vietnam.  Sen. Toomey was born in 1961. Gee, Sen. Toomey, I didn’t get that email. I’m guessing you never heard of the 1st Studies and Operations Group ( 1st SOG) that finally departed in April 1975 (officially).

Posted in Complaints Department, HOMELESS VETERANS, KP Veterans, VA Health Care, vA news, VAMC Scheduling Coverup, VARO Misfeasance, Vietnam Disease Issues, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 (S. 305)

Pres. Trump signed Public Law No.115-15 on 3/28/17.  Will towns and cities across the USA fly flags out of respect for all Vietnam veterans decades after it ended?  

Although we know that tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans have died from diseases from exposure to AO, HCV, or have PTSD, and other illnesses due to their service, the 58,307 names, on the Vietnam War Memorial are authorized by DoD only.  (Link) 

The Department of Defense compiled a list of combat zone casualties according to Presidential Executive Order #11216, handed down by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 24, 1965. It specified Vietnam, and adjacent coastal waters, as a combat zone. This zone was expanded to include Laos, Cambodia and Air Force bases in Thailand

wikipedia article about Memorial in DC click image

Why March 29?  From a Pat Toomy (R-Pa) press release (Link):

  • The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act is the first federal statute that specifically provides for the honoring of Vietnam War veterans
    • Permanently designates March 29th annually as National Vietnam War Veterans Day
    • On March 29, 1973, the last combat troops were ordered out of Vietnam
    While many troops remained behind before the fall of Saigon – March 29th holds great meaning for many Vietnam veterans
    • Includes March 29th as a day “the flag should be displayed”

The Wall was built in 1982.  Thirty-five years later, Vietnam vets get an annual flag day in friendly communities. Incredible. Hard not to feel cynical.  Couldn’t Clinton, Bush or Obama managed even a little little respect?

Yet this bill sped through the House and Senate.  Whether the flying of flags will motivate communities to build subsidized housing for veterans, expand choice, or demand true legal representation for benefits claims, specialty qualified C & P examiners, free IMOs chosen by the veteran to satisfy the nexus letter requirements, and other reforms, remains to be seen.

03/28/2017 Signed by President.
03/23/2017 Presented to President.
03/21/2017 Passed/agreed to in House: On passage Passed by voice vote.
03/21/2017 Committee on the Judiciary discharged.
02/03/2017 Passed/agreed to in Senate: Introduced in the Senate, read twice, considered, read the third time, and passed without amendment by Unanimous Consent.
02/03/2017 Introduced in Senate

image: causes.org

Posted in All about Veterans, Food for thought, General Messages, Guest authors, Vietnam War history | Tagged | 6 Comments

VA STAKEHOLDERS-WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

I have repeatedly heard the term “VA stakeholder” and finally decided to look it up. Former VA Secretary McDonald and our newest fearless leader repeat it incessantly so it must have great gravitas. Here’s the skinny from what I can tell. VA is very vague on this and, as we all know, they can confuse you with a lot of disingenuous terms like ICARE, nonadversarial, Veteran-friendly and the like. So, in order to get to the meat of this, I had to use Google® Search. 

Google had to correct my spelling of stakeholder but I think I finally got the answer. Phrasing is everything when you search on Google. It seems VA has chosen a term that is  a tad off kilter in its usage but that’s VA, huh? Anyway, when Googled properly, you find that a VA stakeholder is a tool for spearing steaks. I figure ‘stake’ is a VA misspelling like sticking that non in front of  adversaral. It appears to have a secondary VA definition as well involvied with Kumbaya -like overtones. Everyone gets that warm, fuzzy feeling like they’re all invested in part of something much Bigger.

Just to be sure, I queried Ben Krause, Chris Attig and Bob ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ Walsh for their respective take on its definition just on the off chance I was misunderstanding it. Chris chimed in first and said I was spot on because VA really has no stake’holders’ unless you consider VA personnel peeing on your leg and telling you it’s raining  being the primary definition. Ben strongly suggested Veterans buy the steaks as closely as possible to their respective Regional Offices so VA would recognize them as “new and material steaks” so as not to be confused with existing Steaks of Record. SpongeBob, of course, being wise in the ways of VA from his former job as a VA attorney, suggested I purchase said holders only from an approved VA vendor or risk having to properly refile later under 5 USC for APA stakeholder claims status. He offered to take care of it for the standard 20%.

Thus, I bring you the official VA stakeholder from what I can figure. It’s the only explanation that fits the known facts. Most Vets I know are the last ones in the chain to find anything out about their claims. Ergo, VA stakeholder is a misspelling of steakholder– of which there are plenty of examples on Google search. How this relates to VA must be on a need-to-know basis.  I’m sure we’ll find out eventually.

click to enlarge

Official VA Stake/stakeholders in 550 Nickel-extend to 36″.  Available with Black and Blue handles  and retract for easy storage in between uses.

Allow me to introduce what I believe is the latest VA claims tool. I’d love to be the West Coast distributor for these devices. Amazingly, they can be extended to their maximum length when employed (36 inches) to ensure maintaining a safe distance from VA shenanigans. The black and blue handles are the sign of authenticity  and will accessorize with your claims posture so don’t accept any with an OD-green configuration. They come in packages of six to employ at each phase of your claim (i.e. filing, NOD, VA 9, C&P exam, BVA hearing and appeal and lastly, that inevitable remand). They are identical and interchangeable for each phase. The grip is soft rubber and ensures a firm grasp of the facts under duress. VA is running a hamster wheel-special this week. Show proof of a BVA remand and they’ll give you a 10% discount. Supplies are limited so order soon.

That’s right. Be the talk of the VSO bar. Impress your service rep. with your legal skills and understanding of how this system works. It’s like having the Swiss Knife tool for all occasions-whether filing claims or barbecuing. And don’t be fooled by any cheap, knockoff pink Yuku.com imitations.

click to enlarge

VA Stakeholder fully extended to 36″. Works on steak too.

 

Contact VA for info on how you, too, can get a good deal on this exciting Amazon™ offer. Free shipping and they guarantee 125-day or less delivery¹ with a 98%  chance² you’ll get what’s coming to you.*

¹Time estimates may vary from state to state and are based on a ten-year study done in 1985.

2 Accuracy results are based on a per-million study where only 2% of Veterans complained. Your results may vary or not be the same as advertised.

*VA makes no guarantees, implies no liability and refuses to exhibit remorse or accept responsibility for screwing your life up for a decade or two.

Put this one in the  Agent B. file.

Posted in Humor, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments