The Recession Has Hit Women the Hardest; Here’s How to Recover

Women already face more employment-related challenges than men, but the recession has brought additional worries. What does the recession mean for a woman’s ability to help support her household? Here, we’ll look at what’s happening in the current economy and a few ways women can start earning income from home.

How Are Women Faring During the Recession?

Many wives may be at a loss as to how they can contribute financially to the household. After all, more women than men have lost their civilian jobs during the recession, notes NPR. Plus, PayScale confirms that for every one dollar a man makes, a woman makes about 81 cents. Even as a military spouse, financial security is a concern.

Although there are many benefits available to senior veterans, active duty families may find fewer assistance options. At the same time, having children and maintaining a two-plus-person household might require more than your spouse’s income. Fortunately, there are many ways for spouses to become work-at-home wives and moms.

Job Solution 1: Go Freelance & DIY a Career

Whether you had an established career that the recession nixed or you’ve been a stay-at-home mom, leaning on your strengths in the freelance field is an excellent move. Think about the work-related skills you possess—like great organizational abilities or fast typing speed—and choose a freelance gig to suit. You can work part-time or even go full-time, all from home.

For example, many women become personal assistants in virtual roles. If you have past clerical experience (or you can build such skills quickly), working from home as office support is ideal.

Another option is to become a blogger or freelance writer. Blogging affords you a ton of flexibility, but it also involves some up-front costs and can take a while to become lucrative. Freelance writing, however, involves showcasing your writing abilities and pitching to clients. Depending on your experience, you can set your writing rates at a relatively high hourly rate, too.

Whatever your area of expertise, choosing a freelance gig ensures ultimate flexibility and allows you to work no matter where you and your family are stationed.

Job Solution 2: Find a Remote Employee Gig

Since remote work is ideal for military spouses who may be facing a move mid-recession, a telecommuting role is essential. As CNBC explains, many big-name corporations hire remote workers from all over the globe. Companies such as Appen, VIPKid, Williams-Sonoma, Humana, and Dell all routinely hire workers for telecommuting positions.

If you have experience in a specific industry, such as language teaching (VIPKid) or healthcare (Humana), you have even better odds of netting one of these versatile roles. Regardless of the industry or job type, you’ll need reliable Wi-Fi, a decent computer and a way to protect your devices. Plus, some industries require additional equipment or software.  

The good news is that with many corporations, you can work full-time hours and even receive benefits. You can avoid dealing with self-employment tax by accepting a formal job offer as well, while freelancing requires you to handle accounting on your own.

Job Solution 3: Turn a Hobby into Paid Work

Odds are, as a woman with a career, family, or both, you have at least a few passions outside of work and childrearing. Think about your hobbies, and you will likely find there’s something you already do that you can monetize.

For example:

  • If you enjoy crocheting, you can crochet items to sell through an online handmade-product platform like Etsy.
  • As someone who enjoys baking or cooking, you can prep meals or baked goods and sell them. Think about busy families who need heat-and-eat meals or neighbors who enjoy sweet treats.
  • For hobby photographers, taking photographs and selling prints online (or pitching to a site that buys and sells photos) can prove both lucrative and enjoyable.

Of course, if you don’t yet have a hobby that can help pay the bills, it’s not too late to learn.

Worrying about finances—or the future of your career—is no fun. Especially during a recession, navigating your way around working from home can be complicated. Fortunately, there are countless opportunities for women who are willing to put in the effort.

Posted in Guest authors, Women Vets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hepatitis (HCV) extrahepatic manifestation: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Those paying attention to HCV infections know that the virus is a leading cause of  hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).  Less well known, is that HCV can cause another cancer:  B-cell Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (Pubmed -Link) (Pubmed-vet study 2007).

My old Marine has three risk factors for NHL.  He has a history of HCV infection (SVR with interferon treatments in 2004). He lived at Camp Lejeune (NC) (Link: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is presumptive condition); he was exposed to Agent Orange (AO) as a combat Marine in Vietnam, a presumptive SC condition (Link).  Yet, we don’t think he has ever been screened for NHL. If so, why not?

According to the American Cancer Society, there is no routine screening for lymphoma.

“Screening tests or exams are used to look for a disease in people who have no symptoms. At this time, there are no widely recommended screening tests for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This is because no screening test has been shown to lower the risk of dying from this cancer. Still, in some cases lymphoma can be found early.”

This “…in some cases” policy is completely wrong.  By the time lumps can be felt the disease has progressed. Hardly an early or timely diagnosis of a blood cancer.  Prognosis? Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles) states:

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

In the past 10 years, this disease has become easier to treat as more procedures are found to be effective. Overall, 50 to 60 percent of patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma now live five years or longer without a recurrence.

If a veteran has one, two, three and even more risk factors for lymphoma, screening should be mandatory and frequent.

Veterans know that standard medical history questionnaires do not ask about their military service histories (VA and private).  And yet, even if a veteran has not been deployed to a war zone, he may have served on one of the Superfund military sites, or Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS).

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has published an excellent booklet (revised 2020) on NHL that offers many specifics we need to be aware of (Link).


The Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) is aware of the Agent Orange risk but does not mention Camp Lejeune in their 158-page booklet, Understanding  Non-Hodkins Lymphoma, a guide for patients, loved ones and survivors.  (Link)


I emailed them with links about the Camp Lejeune exposures and have an received an acknowledgement.  LRF is a very well connected non-profit in the private care medical world but not with VA-based expert advisors.

So veterans, families and friends, we need to talk about pro-active NHL screenings as a war-related and military environmental hazards illness, as well as an extrahepatic HCV-cancer, with medical and veteran influencers and practitioners.  The current screening policies for at-risk patients must change.

Laura (Guest author)


Posted in Agent Orange, All about Veterans, AO, Camp Lejeune poisoning, Food for thought, Future Veterans, Guest authors, HCV Epidemiology, HCV Health, HCV Risks (documented), Military Madness, non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, non-va care, research, Uncategorized, Vietnam Disease Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy July 4th: Our Mt. Rushmore Celebration

Screenshot 2020-07-04 at 2.17.42 PM

Screenshot of fireworks livestream,  Keystone, SD. July 3, 2020


For those of us who didn’t win a lottery ticket to see the fireworks, a link to the video is still up at travel South Dakota Mount Rushmore fireworks.

They start at around 8-minutes in with patriotic music and narration.  We are living in strange times so I’m glad the National Park Service decided to go forward with something normal and beautiful.  (The whole event is on C-SPAN in HD video.)

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln are currently on the “bad guys” list among certain subsets of Americans; good luck trying to destroy these massive sculptures!  They are a reminder of the importance of viewing people in the light of their historical contexts when making social judgments.

President Trump’s full Independence Day remarks can be read on C-SPAN (with HD video) or the Whitehouse website.

Let us also send our deepest thanks to our wonderful veterans, law enforcement, first responders, and the doctors, nurses, and scientists working tirelessly to kill the virus. They’re working hard. (Applause.) I want to thank them very, very much.

The Star-Spangled Banner,” our currently controversial national anthem, played by the Air Force Band, begins after 14-minutes. Those present stood, shoulder to shoulder, sans masks.  I’m not scandalized.  Joyful Melania, Donald and citizens were donned in upbeat red, white and blue.  The “Salute America” fireworks begin at 1:34:59.  Enjoy this traditional show on C-SPAN and your holiday weekend.  (Laura, guest author)


“O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…” Image: Wikipedia


Posted in 4th of July, Food for the soul, Food for thought, General Messages, Guest authors, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments


Boy, howdy, if you live in Houston, you’re in for a Miriam Webster revision. As of download6now, you no longer have a four bedroom home with a Master bath/spa. Negatory. It’s now a Primary Bed/Bathroom. I’m wondering on how that plays out if you have a Masters in French Lit. or your car has a Master cylinder or  God forbid… the Masters Tournament. You almost get a glimpse of where this train wreck is headed. I’m waiting for them to decide the Statue of Liberty is passé and has to be toppled. 

Every morning you’re going to have to wake up woke and ask Alexa what the latest revisions are to publicspeak. Well, fortunately it hasn’t come to that just yet in the universe of Veterans Claims… or has it? Imagine if you will… No, not Rod Serling. Imagine you’ve landed where you are in Butch Long’s shoes after 8 years of claims preparation, filings, appeals, hearings, c&p exams ad nauseum, and you finally have a soapbox from which to speak from to folks who will really listen (CAVC).  Normally, I would be worried that I might draw a “hardass” Jurist who isn’t Veterancentric. But here, in the instant case, it’s a tearjerker like Queen for a Day. How could so much shit befall one Veteran? What are the chances of the Army forgetting to tuck your STRs under your leg on your Medivac stretcher? Or forgetting to award you your medals and then getting shafted by the VA for lack of the very same?

2downloadBut then, like a Country and Western song, you finally get your medals. You find and submit the old STRs and get rated up the bazoo for more metal than Dorothy’s friend the Tin Man and…and… and… VA says “Negative copy. We reconsidered under §3.156(c)(1) but there was nothing there to change our minds. Oh, yeah, we did find a CUE back to 1970 for 10% on the right arm but we fixed that. Here’s $45 K.  And just because we’re such swell folks, we’re also gonna toss in an extra year of tinnitus back to March 2014 for a buck 25 a month under §3.114(a). How ’bout them apples. Huh? Shit bubba. You can dine at Applebee’s© for a year with the whole damn family on that tinnitus money alone.”

Right. So, we file the VA 9 and say §3.156(c)(1),(3),(4) about a hundred times in person and on paper to the Veterans Law Judge.  13 months later (advanced on the docket no less) she opines that §3.156(c) is inapplicable as she can’t “see” any informal (or formal) claims made and everything was granted back in ’70 so no dice. Okay. Put on the law helmet, padawans. The #1 legal error is the local NWQ Fort Fumble says they reconsidered it under §3.156(c) and it didn’t change their minds on what was awarded and how much in 1970. This is a positive finding of fact. I know. It sure doesn’t sound positive but the negative outcome re reconsideration is immaterial. The local yokels decided  §3.156(c) was indeed applicable but wasn’t a game changer. But, the VLJ now says “Au contraire, ma cher. §3.156(c) is not applicable”. Alarms have to go off because you cannot undo the reconsideration-assuming  you believe in the tooth faery- that they ever did a recon on it in the first place. Admitting a reconsideration took place under §3.156(c) lets the camel’s nose in under the tent. There’s no backing up even if no change in the decision occurred. The BVA is where you were supposed to get a de novo look again at the reconsideration-not a denial of the whole regulation’s applicability and, hence, no decision at all.

Medrano v. Nicholson, 21 Vet.App. 165, 170 (2007) (“To the extent that that determination is favorable to the veteran, the Court will not disturb it”.)

So, now, at the Court, I am forced to reconstruct the crime scene. The Secretary is free to rebut Butch’s story but Butch is a combat Veteran now. He wasn’t one back in 1970 when they rated him because the medals were never on the DD 214. All the medrecs from the time the mortar hit until he arrived at Letterman Hospital in Frisco over a month later were still sitting in Camp Zama, Japan. With the addition of not only the medals granting presumptive exposure to concussion blast trauma, but the new (old) STRs, you can open up 1970 again. Or not, according to VA. Butch and I never figured VA would roll over like a dog and let you scratch their belly. Now that they tossed him that CUE bone for 10%, he is (was) rated at 20% in 1970. The reason they aren’t caving in on §3.156(c) is simple. Add even one more 10% and you have a 30% total. Bingo. A spouse and four children is a chunk of dough from 1970. VA wasn’t going to piss on this fire and call in the dogs until they were sure we were going to give up. Maybe they think just because I’m not an attorney that I have shit for brains. Maybe they figured the Court could never unravel it. Who knows?

We have filed our appellant’s brief and The Secretary has filed the Appellee’s brief. Ruh-oh, Rorge. Rough sailing ahead…

Long Appellee’s Brief 19-7301

It’s clear they have no idea what this claim/appeal is all about nor how §3.156(c) works. Viewing the history of CAVC/Fed. Cir. precedence, we have Vigil, Mayhue, Cline, Pacheco, Blubaugh, Emerson, George  and maybe Kisor to date. Each has contributed something to the interpretation of how §3.156(c) works or refused to elaborate. Virtually all of them involve using the JSCRR to locate a stressor event for a PTSD claim or a CUE. Personally, I don’t know how that applies. If you filed in 1970 for anything MDD, you’d still need an IMO-be it private or from VA shrinks- to prevail. If you didn’t have the dx of MDD until 1998, then you can’t get the EED of 1970 if you didn’t have a DX back then. I suppose you could get a IMO from a good outfit that would do a retrospective Dx. This filing was sanded and honed to a fine polish from 2012 to the present. Each filing was considered like a chess move. The object was to create a unique confluence of evidence and claim filing. The next project was to infuse it with equal parts of  §§1154(b);3.156(c)(1),(3),(4).  Lastly, it is presented to the Court as a fait accompli. There is nothing left to argue.

I have to be honest. Medrano protects Butch but this §3.156(c) business is an art form. I always teach folks to keep a few extra hand grenades just in case they need them late in the battle. Here. we’ve kept any Medrano arguments out of the Court stuff. If we have a panel and an Oral Briefing, we can spring it then.

Back in December 16, 2016, when I realized we were sitting on 103 pages of new §3.156(c) STRs, I went through and selected the most probative ones. I saved back about 45 of temperature charts and debridement notes, diet charts etc. VA never even went back to see if our records were legitimate. They just accepted what I submitted. No PIES requests. Nothing. Thus, we still have another hand grenade we can always use. Most importantly, though, I was planning the filing of Butch’s TBI with headaches in conjunction with when I submitted the new STRs at the upcoming formal DRO hearing with hearing transcript. That DRO gig happened on February 22, 2017- George Washington’s birthday. Butch’s TBI  w/30% for headaches decision came out May 8, 2017. The effective date was, of course, December 16, but when you get to the Court, the fact that the rating came out 76 days after the new STRs hit the claims file makes it look like §3.156(c) was implicated in the rating.

54006190_10157122298392359_444007551487442944_nThe biggest error is going to hurt. The author of the Appellee’s brief colored outside the lines. She said Butch was a liar, liar, pants on fire. That’s a big Bozo No-No in Vet law. If he was guilty, it would be okay to say it politely. But, on the other hand, if you are a heavily decorated, highly disabled Combat Veteran in a wheelchair, your opponent’s exculpatory evidence must be of the highest calibre or they’re gonna be taken out behind the woodshed for some wall-to-wall counseling. §1154(b), the combat presumption accorded our Veterans, says anything that comes out of your piehole with regards to how you got f—-d up and what disabilities it caused afterwards, is golden testimony unless you start talking about the alien abduction stuff and that brain control module they inserted in your noggin. VA needs some mighty powerful mojo and good, written evidence to show you can’t be trusted to brush your teeth unsupervised. If you do not have “clear and convincing evidence” to call Butch a liar or a malingerer, then you have to shut up and sit down. The last thing you want to do is start stuffing words in his mouth he never said. VA sure can’t say that money is creating bias in your combat-protected testimony. When anybody does this, they get sanctioned. When you get sanctioned, it casts a negative pall over all your arguments. It makes you look like you’d do anything-including cheating-to prevail and get Butch denied.

In my book back in 2012, I tried to teach Vets that timing is everything. Continuity is imperative. In this case, I baited the hook to see if VA would strike. In late 2014, I mailed  in Butch’s new DD 215 showing the award of a Purple Heart Medal retroactive to 1969. We heard nothing but crickets. By rights, under §3.156(c)(1), the Seattle Puzzle Palace was required to dust off the old 1970 claim:

Notwithstanding any other section in this part, at any time after VA issues a decision on a claim, if VA receives or associates with the claims file relevant official service department records that existed and had not been associated with the claims file when VA first decided the claim, VA will reconsider the claim, notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section.

VA ran into a roadblock in Emerson v McDonald by saying any prior claim to be reconsidered had to have been denied before §3.156(c)(1) kicked in. In this case, the VLJ said all Butch’s claims had been granted and there was nothing to reconsider-formal or informal. Again, this is the wrong legal standard of review. “At any time” means even if we find more records or medals again in 2035, we still get a reconsideration of it. The outcome of the original claim is immaterial to the point of the reconsideration. The new records automatically pull the hand grenade pin on any reconsideration. Thus, when I submitted proof of a retroactive Purple Heard Medal in 2014, VA was automatically required to pull out Butch’s claims file and take a gander at what his combat posture was in 1970 and reconsider the 1970 claim. It would be error not to. And, once again with the submission of new personnel records and another DD 215 showing the Combat Infantryman Badge with the new reopening in March 2015, VA was yet again required to reconsider 1970. And, yet again in October 2016, with the submission of the General Court Martial records, yet another §3.156(c) reconsideration was required. The big document dump at the DRO review on February 22, 2017 was to really impress these folks with the applicability of §3.156(c)(1). Not one decision from the reopening to the last in 2018 mentioned any reconsideration of the applicability of §3.156(c)(1)-let alone (c)(3) or (4). The Court is going to notice this. The Court is also going to spot that Seattle professes to have done the reconsideration.  The new George v Shulkin (Wilkie) decision in March of 2020 points out the discussion in Vigil v. Peake about there needing to be evidence of a reconsideration in the record. Just saying “Yep. We reconsidered it.” without some blatant evidence of same is not sufficient to prove you did any recon in the Court’s eyes.

I’ve been watching how §3.156(c) jurisprudence has progressed for years. Each new panel decision spoke to a new facet but none have the absolute shotgun effect of four successive infusions of new STRs  in short order with zero results. Most importantly, no precedential decisions to date have stirred §1154(b) into the stew to see how it cooks off. Each introduction of new §3.156(c) evidence was timed to coincide with a rating decision pertinent to what the new evidence was going to provide. Thus, showing exposure to loud, concussive explosions  was needed to prove tinnitus was service-connected. But  even more so, Mr. Long had to prove the tinnitus was caused by a concussion or a head injury. By the §1154(b) presumption from the CIB award, Butch’s testimony that his tinnitus was loud and constant must be granted credence now. That, in turn entitles him to a 10% rating in 1970. Combined with TBI/ headaches at 30% and the recent eye injury award of 10%, which began also in 1969, VA owes old Butch a 60% rating with spouse and four children from April 29, 1970 to about March 30, 2015, where he was granted his TDIU. That’s really why this has turned into a cat fight.

This all hinges on a good reply brief describing what the evidence really says. Forensics is everything in this business. The trick is synthesizing/condensing it down to 15 pages. Et voila:

Long 19-7301 Reply Brief

And here’s the smoking Rosetta Stone to refer to:

Long 21-2545 C&P Page 1

The booth bitch at the OGC insists Butch never said “I have ringing in my right ear”. He did. Even worse, he said it under color of §1154(b). You can’t throw Shade v. Shinseki on that. Worse, by saying Butch should have claimed tinnitus et al by writing them all down as claims if he wanted them ignores the very evidence he did.


Leroy MacKlem

P.S.On a final note, I found out via our illustrious internet that Leroy MacKlem passed away in 2014. How sad. He fought for years and had finally won his CUE back to 1950. At least he won before he punched out. I’m praying for the same for Butch.

We now await the Court’s next move. If you wish to watch this develop, go to and click on docket search in the lower left.When the ECF Docket pops up, enter 19-7301. Click on the name Long and the whole docket, including all these briefs, will appear. Single click on the little Microsoft Word Doc icons to open each document.

Life is good. Cupcake and I are taking our summer vacation at home this year due to this Kung Flu. We spent our COVID 19 rebate $ on a ce-ment pond out back for Pickles. A Labradog needs a pond to fetch properly.

P.P.S. Today ( 6/29/2020), the Court clerk assigned Judge Michael Allen to the appeal. I couldn’t be happier unless they had assigned it to Judge Greenberg. Judge Allen was the one presiding when they swore me in.

Posted in 1154(b) combat presumptions, 3.156(c), 4th of July, Agent Orange, All about Veterans, ASKNOD BOOK, CAVC Knowledge, Corona pandemic, Inferred claims, Informal Claims, KP Veterans, Lay testimony, TBI, Tips and Tricks, Veterans Law, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


Sorry for the late notice. John and Jerrell have asked me to do the show with them this afternoon. Same old drill. 7Pm for the East coast and 4 pm for the Left. Figure out where you are in the middle and add or subtract to get the desired time.

It also appears WordPress has changed my settings and I can’t find anything . At any rate, the show number is

(515) 605-9764


Dial 1 to enter the conversation queue.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I get a bang out of all the questions I get regarding Clear and Unmistakable Error. While I have written numerous articles on the subject, I get a lot of duplicate questions as if I’d never answered them before. Even more concerning is that there is so much disagreement on the subject -even among those who practice VA law for a living. With the advent of the new AMA, it is even more confusing in spite of the fact that  nothing of consequence has changed.

As most know, it makes no difference which form  you use to file. I’ve used all the new forms and VA personnel have demonstrated they have no idea what to do. Everything has to be on an approved VA form except a Motion to Revise. I have no doubt that will change some day soon but for now, you can file on a paper towel as long as it has all the metrics identifying you and your purported  error-or what you perceive to be error.

I read some of the big VA attorney websites regarding CUE and am appalled there are not better explanations to describe all the different possibilities regarding CUE. If I find myself with extra time to burn, I like to go to the BVA website of appeals decisions and read more on the subject. While there certainly is a wide variety of adjudicative error, and more yet since the inception of the AMA, in truth there is only one form of CUE. Quite simply, it is a glaring error that reasonable minds have no problem decyphering. The ingredients have not changed. The statutes and regulations have not metamorphosed and segued into new interpretations. No, the identification of what we characterize as “CUE” has evolved into new interpretive terms. No longer is it a “rare” error as postulated in Fugo. Let’s analyze this.

First, a true CUE is something that has transpired which is wrong. The big fork in the road begins with whether it happened yesterday or in 1970. If you just got a decision denying service connection for Hep C based on your cirrhosis and VA says you had one year to file for cirrhosis when you got out, it’s a brand new CUE. This is not the end of the matter. What you do not want to do is file a Motion to Revise the error. That’s foolish. VA has a provision for you to write them and ask them to correct it pronto without litigating it for 8 years.  The M 21 covers this contingency in M21-1, Part III, subpart  iv, chapter 7, section B(3)(a) (requiring correction of errors on the rating codesheet, including disability evaluations, effective dates, and diagnostic codes); id., sec. B(3)(c) (requiring referral of an erroneous decision “to a decision maker to issue a new decision” once an error has been identified).

An antique CUE is a decision that is final. If you were denied for something in 1970 and just discovered VA made a mistake, you can file a Motion to Revise the error. As per law, you must find a specific error of contemporary law committed in 1970 or evidence, as it was known, to have not been before the adjudicator. Either error will suffice. Following that test, you must show that the error manifestly changed the outcome. This is why you sometimes hear the legal standard of review as an ‘outcome-based’ decision.

Okay, let’s add a wrinkle. Let’s say you filed in 1970 and lost. You can see the error and you want to fix it. Let’s say they read 38 CFR wrong. But hold the phone. You refiled for it in ’86 and lost again. If you filed a NOD and lost at the BVA, that’s all she wrote. Once you go through the appeals process and lose, that CUE theory is dead as a doornail. Or is it?

Here’s another wrinkle. Assume all the above is true. You go over the whole claim stream from 1970 to present and discover that VA also didn’t have all the records back then. You can, by law, file a new Motion to Revise based on a brand new facet of what you perceive as CUE. As long as it is a brand new theory, it is permissible to file anew.

Here’s a wonderful case study.

Johnny Vet comes down with Hepatitis (not otherwise specified) when he gets out in 1970. He’s within the magic 1-year limit so it’s gotta be SC, right? It might be A or B. It might have been C but that won’t be discovered until 1989 and testing won’t begin until 1992. Johnny finally gets out of the hospital and  around to filing -but after a year has passed.  VA denies but they have no records. Johnny doesn’t appeal and it dies. He refiles in ’86, ’94 and 2006. He loses each time and never appeals. Finally, in 2012, Johnny comes to me and we start chopping down trees to make enough paper to argue this. I refile it and get a nexus. Johnny finally wins 100% P&T but with a 2012 effective date. We file a NOD and scream CUE in 1970. This begins a new claim stream.

I discover he’d filed just outside the one-year limit but he contracted it within the magic one year. The BVA judge says no CUE. Go home. I’m ready to throw the towel in. When I began, I didn’t have access to VBMS. If I’d waited for the average year to get his c file, his CUE claim would have been done before I got it. Now, with VBMS, I spot a document (the very first one) showing that while he was lying in the VAMC hospital bed, some industrious VSO had filed an informal claim within that magic year. Thus, the 526 which appeared to be after the one year limit is actually legal and preserved his informal claim. Based on this, I refiled a new Motion to Revise(on a 526). Well, you know the VA bozos. They look at that filing as the wrong form because Johnny has already filed for this CUE once. I refile on the 995 to appease them and they deny saying “Sorry. You didn’t file any new and relevant evidence to support your 1970 CUE claim.” Well, duh. You are not allowed to do that. You have to explain it based on the existing record. Somehow, this escapes the rating wizards. Sending in a note saying they did it wrong using the above M 21 cite went unanswered so we’re now at the BVA again. The good news here is that I got Johnny advanced on the docket so it won’t take 4 years. I doubt he’ll be alive in 2024. He’s on Nivolumab® and we’re hoping it will give him a few more years before the liver box folds up and calls it quits.

Most all VA attorney websites describe the CUE process as a one-shot deal. They fail to realize that no two Veterans claims- let alone CUEs- are identical. I try to explain that to any who will listen but it seems to go over their heads. Most VA attorneys refuse to do CUE claims because the success rate is so low. I think the truth is that it’s too complex and they can accomplish three claims for increase in the time it takes one CUE claim to be adjudicated. Given that, and the misconception that you only get one bite of the apple, is reason enough for most of them to turn you down. I guess I’m different. If there’s a case for CUE, I’ll take it. Some of mine are still awaiting a Travel board hearing. My oldest was filed in 2016 regarding HCV. I had a hearing set up for May 7th but the coronavirus put the kibosh on that one. I’m now promised an August date.

After doing this continuously for almost 12 years, one thing I see over and over is something that greatly disturbs me. As most, if not all of you, probably know, is unique in that I do not use the “Forum” model. A forum is open to all to put in their two cents worth. This is admirable and allows all the members to contribute their experiences as well as seek information on how the process works. I have pointed out above that no two claims are alike so any advice offered by John or Jane Vet is based on their own personal experience. If they failed to get an independent IMO and lost for many years, that might not be included in their advice. If they had a VSO who “misplaced” their evidence and it took three more attempts to summit Mount VA, they might not share all that with you. A forum allows everyone to commingle their knowledge unfiltered with little or no legal advice. When this happens, Veterans can be led astray and make horrendous mistakes based on erroneous advice.

A blog model of VA help such as this one teaches you the actual legal rationale for why you will succeed or fail. I spent innumerable years chasing the VA Holy Grail and failed thrice. On the fourth try, I began to take notes and research my failures. The BVA decisions website was the Rosetta Stone. There, I learned the concept of the Caluza triangle. It was so simple I wondered why no one-no one- in any of the Big Veterans help sites had even bothered to point it out.  The Veterans Benefits Forum (VBN), admittedly one of the “Big” sites, even had a former VA rater who had retired and was now a Veterans Service Officer. One would tend to trust him of all people to give good advice. One would also be wrong if s/he surmised that. The advice was astonishingly wrong and misleading. His grasp of VA law was nonexistent inasmuch as I consider the M 21 to be pure fiction. Nevertheless, he was the go-to guru.

I made a great effort to point out the errors of law and ask for the legal justification for the former rater’s statements. I was rewarded with being banned for being argumentative. I still am to this day. I wear it as a badge of courage along with my lawsuit for slandering a certain Veterans Service Organization in 2015. I admit I’m somewhat sarcastic and can rub folks the wrong way on occasion. My rationale for being argumentative is simple. I hate to see anyone lose at this VA poker game. I want everyone to be a winner so my advice is not to demean anyone but to make their trip through the process smoother and more successful. Based on the fact that my success rate is 100 % to date, I don’t think my technique is in error. I will admit I lost one this spring. The Vet asked me to file him for Ischemic Heart Disease due to Agent Orange. I presumed he had the medical documentation to back this up. He used the VAMC exclusively so I relied on all that evidence to be readily accessible. It was. The problem was elementary-he had a left upper shoulder muscle strain and what he diagnosed as IHD…wasn’t. VA denied him and I felt pretty stupid. I can’t count that as a loss, frankly.

Which brings us to today. Apparently I have upset yet another Big Vet’s help site by trying to offer sound legal advice. I readily concede I see the controversy. One person offers his or her sage legal advice based solely on their experiences and extrapolates that the reason they won is based on ____________. I merely point out the legal standard of review, why the process worked for them (or why not) and am ostracized for demeaning the individual or somehow lessening his/her contribution. If I apologize, even that fails to right the perceived slight.

Offering advice appears to be becoming passé.  In the Forum model, everyone is entitled to an opinion regardless of how inane or incorrect it may be. To correct anyone is seen as gauche. Sadly, for me personally, giving advice is a character flaw. I’m lazy. I can’t represent everyone in the Vet world so I offer the DIY method to help as many as possible. My failing seems to be carrying my epistle to other Vets help sites. Actually, banning me from offering advice is refreshing. All Forum sites have this mechanism (banning) in force to prevent folks from purposefully ‘flaming’ others and inciting verbal riots. With the blog model, I merely report what I have personally encountered in my defense of others’ claims. I cite to the laws I have relied on. Since I have experience based on many thousands of Vets’ claim/appeals rather than just my own, I bring an untainted, generalized perspective to the table. But- and it’s a big but- I do not censor anyone. I do not ban anyone. If you have a disparate opinion, you can always find a berth here and espouse your philosophy. My only codicil is that you stick to 38 USC and 38 CFR as it is written. Precedence is king until, or unless, it is overwritten.

My daddy once said “Fortunately, son, we live in America. You have the right to remain stupid. No one- not even the Encyclopaedia Britannica- can take that away from you.” Controversy in this business should be welcomed. If everyone used a fork to eat peas, no one would ever respect the individual who came along and introduced the spoon to the project. In the same vein, if any of you have a new, improved method to dig a good VA punji pit, I invite you to share it. I try to do this as soon as I discover them. I do not have “pay walls” to access any books to teach you my technique. I don’t have an endless supply of manuals for $49.95 that will lead you to VR&E success or TDIU Nirvana. I already wrote the most important book of all-how to win.

I will miss offering advice on my friend’s site but respect her and her members’ wishes.  The last thing we need in this business is dissension, anger and unhappiness. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.


Posted in All about Veterans, Complaints Department, Corona virus, Food for thought, KP Veterans, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Making the Most of Your Resources: Tips and Info for Senior Veterans

According to the US Census Bureau, there were more than 9 million veterans of retirement age in the United States as of 2015. If you fall into that category, you should be aware that there are many resources available to help you finance your retirement and cover the costs of healthcare and assisted living. Knowing how to access these resources is a vital step in maximizing the services and programs the government has made available to you.


If you’ve served at least 90 days of active duty, you’re eligible for supplemental income through the VA’s pension program. If you’re the child or surviving spouse of a veteran who served during wartime, you may qualify for a survivors pension. It’s a tax-free benefit intended for unmarried children or a low-income spouse who hasn’t remarried. 

The deceased individual must be an honorably discharged veteran having served a minimum of 90 days of active service, including at least one day during wartime. To receive benefits, a surviving child must be under 18, under 23 if enrolled in a school approved by the Veterans Administration, or be unable to support himself due to childhood disability.   

Life Insurance

Servicemembers group life insurance is a low-cost package intended for those who have performed at least 12 periods of inactive training per year in the National Guard or Reserve. This coverage can be extended for up to two years if you were disabled when you separated from the military service. Veterans who are completely disabled are eligible for free coverage and can purchase additional life insurance. 

Burial Insurance

Life insurance is an important safeguard, as is burial insurance, which covers the cost of funeral arrangements. That’s a big deal because the average cost of a funeral today runs between $7,000 and $9,000, which is a tremendous financial burden. Funeral insurance can also be used to pay the deceased individual’s medical bills, credit card debt, and personal loans, so consider the debt you’ll leave behind when determining how much coverage you need.

Health Care

The Veterans Administration offers senior veterans programs that address a wide range of health care needs. The geriatrics program provides care for senior veterans with complex health needs. Extended care is a program for veterans of any age who require ongoing assistance with activities of daily living. Geriatric and extended care can be provided at home, at a local VA medical center or within the general community. The VA also provides assistance for home-based services and nursing home/residential care. You can apply for these programs by using the VA’s online eBenefits page or at a VA facility near you. 

Housing and Living Assistance

Senior veterans can receive skilled nursing care at community nursing homes, facilities with which the VA contracts. Occupational and physical therapy services are also available. State veterans homes, assisted living facilities, and home-based primary care centers are also available to seniors through the VA. 

Senior veterans who are bedridden, receiving care in a nursing home, or undergoing other forms of care may be eligible for the Aid and Attendance pension, which augments your monthly pension amount. Veterans confined to their premises due to a permanent disability can also apply for the Housebound pension, another program that augments monthly pension payouts.

The VA has made an extensive list of programs available to senior veterans, as well as their dependents, who require help with insurance, healthcare, and daily living. Eligibility is generally conditional, so it’s important to understand the details of each program. Consult the VA website or check with a representative at your nearby treatment center.  

Image courtesy of Pexels

Posted in All about Veterans, DIC, Food for thought, General Messages, Guest authors, research, Tips and Tricks, VA Medical Mysteries Explained, vA news, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Hey there, VA campers. I hope your misery meter is lower than whalepoop. If it isn’t, and your liver can handle it, pop a Corona, aim it towards Wuhan and give them a raspberry. As you may have noticed, Jerrell and John’s radio show is on a different bat channel. We’re really not sure why but believe it has something to do with a requirement that we abstain from stepping on the third rail of anything of, or having to do with, religion or politics. J&J decided they would have a hard time confined in that corral if one their tongues accidentally slipped and something untoward escaped their piehole.

Towards that end, we have the same policy here on asknod but a radio show is not print format. The words escape into the nether regions for me but with everything archived nowadays, someone can go back and feign offense with something I said in 2016. It’s about enough to drive a body to bent brainism but such is the New World Order of social media. Nothing evaporates into thin air now. Nothing.

Which brings up the subject of what Cupcake said the other day. She’s set up to do virtual meetings with her real estate agents now that we have no-contact orders and are required to obey them. I don’t have a problem with that. I’m 69 and have a major compromised immune system. The last thing I need is any kind of bug-super or not. Anyway, Cupcake has a studio that would be the envy of Rush Limbaugh right next to me here in the LZ Grambo TOC. We’ve been debating starting our own show for over a year but I don’t want to seem unappreciative of John and Jerrell and their show. I expect there is no such thing as being too thin, too rich or having enough Veterans’ venues to teach VA law. I’m going to have to get a new pair of headphones because Cupcake’s purple ones are a wee bit too girly for me.

The Cupcake command post


Anyway, John, Jerrell and I will have a raucous hour of VA knowledge to share with you all and I’ll regale you all with a few morsels of VA stupidity. I wrote a Memorial Day blog where I touched on some of this but the fact is VA personnel, with the exception of most of our Change Management Agents (CMAs) who work solely for us attorneys and agents, seem to have lost their collective minds. The level of animosity is getting more and more full frontal and brazen. One would think the hierarchy would come down on them like a cheap new polyester suit. One would think wrong if s/he did. Most times the error is resolved but with nary a peep about the offending individual being born and raised by feral hogs.

The call in number has changed unless you all copied it from my last post on this.

(515) 605-9764

And that sweet young thang from Britain will answer the phone and whisper sweet nothings in your ear about the show. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you probably have to push the numeral one (1) to talk to us. If you do not plan to talk, refrain from doing so. We don’t need to hear your chihuahua bark for an hour.

I wouldn’t mind old Lilly Tomlin as the phone attendant. Wouldn’t that be a hoot.  “Welcome to blog tawk radio. And to whom am I speaking?”

Anyway, I look forward to a good time to be had by all. No guarantees, but I think John and Jerrell have this new site in order to avoid running afoul of all the political correctness flu this year. If something insults your sensibilities, please employ the hang up button. For those of you challenged in this respect, you will find it on your screen. An example is provided below:

Remember. Six feet folks. No less than six feet from the phone. And the masks. Don’t forget your masks. If you’re hard of hearing, I suggest using the speaker gizmo.

Posted in All about Veterans, CAVC Knowledge, Earlier Effective dates, Exposed Vets Radio Show, Humor, Lawyering Up, VA Agents, VBMS Tricks, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


Memorial Day greetings to you all. I’d probably be excoriated for being politically inept if I said Happy Memorial Day. Rightfully so. This isn’t a holiday to hand out attaboys for being a Vet. It’s all about remembrance of loved ones who bothered to serve his or her country rather than just pay lip service to the grand idea. Sure, some made the ultimate sacrifice but fortunately, like this insane chinavirus, most survived it with a bit of chipped paint and dented fenders. And then there are some who were totaled-either mentally or physically… It’s to those now gone we especially pay tribute to. 

You don’t have to be a combat Vet or a fighter ace to get this attaboy. It was enough that you were so selfless with your time  that you decided to pay America’s Freedoms forward. Your ticket to fame is being dead. I know that sounds harsh but it’s a fairly exclusive club with strict credentials required to qualify.

I/we (asknod et al) have been “on the air” now for almost 12 years. Cupcake says I’m overly loquacious and can’t figure out why a body would come back here over and over and read my blogs. Well, honey, it’s informative, I hope. Like hydroxychloroquine, if it only helps one of you succeed in your claims then it was ultimately worth every penny.  One of my readership (Dennis) sent me an email and said he had to keep a dictionary and thesaurus nearby when reading to decypher me. I’m sorry. I’m not going to reduce myself to a 300-word vocabulary to get my point across. The English language is like a Baskins and Robbins© store. Why settle for vanilla day-in and day-out?

This Memorial Day is more poignant than most. This hasn’t been a good year for me on Vets. Most of you know (or might) that I take the most grievously injured and dying to represent. Almost all are Vietnam Vets and now we’re seeing a new bow wave of Blue Water Navy Vets. I eagerly await the inclusion of herbicide presumption to all my fellow Soldiers and Airmen who served with me in Thailand as well as that country to the north that rhymes with Mouse. Each month, through their diligence, our military mortuary forensics teams find another of our lost pilots who augered in up there never to be seen again. That’s what this celebration is about. I hope that in my lifetime, we can convert all those KHA/BNRs to real, identifiable remains for suitable burial.

Many times now I end up representing the surviving spouse. This has increasingly been one of those years  and we haven’t even reached the Summer solstice. I’ve lost more than a client when this happens. I’ve lost a good friend. Anyone who knows me is aware my client list is pretty short and I keep it that way. After my treatment at the hands of numerous VSOs over the decades before my Awakening, I’ve resented the fact that one of them drew a complete blank on who I was at a DRO hearing in 1991. He erroneously began the hearing with “My client, who served honorably in the Coast Guard during peacetime has filed a claim for flat feet…” With that said, I salute the many of you VSOs with that same verve and zest for justice. I’d probably get unfavorable ankylosis of the fingers  trying to name you all so you just get an honorable mention. And to correct that VSO, I only got a General under Honorable conditions- not the Full Monty Honorable. Seems I had a few dents and chipped paint when I came home, too.

Losing those you represent is not for the weak of heart. I’ve represented some for almost 12 years as their Sherpa-long before my acceptance to help Vets legally. I’ve shared the thrill of victory and the agony of loss with them and their whole family. Hell’s bells. I’m even beginning to represent some multigenerationally (sons and daughters of clients I’ve already won claims for). There. I saved you looking that one up, Dennis. This year I’m experiencing the agony of death with a few more than in years past. Perhaps more of you in dire straits are beginning to contact me.  It shouldn’t have to be that way (substituting the surviving spouse to complete the claims) but that’s what this year’s blog is going to touch on.

The new AMA (Appeals Improvement Act), enacted in 2017 and fully deployed in February 2019, certainly looked like a propitious moment for all of us Vetkind. We were promised much and for a while it looked splendid. But suddenly, a horrible plague settled in around the VA. No, guys. Not the covidtrastrophy. I’m referring to the Houdini-like disappearance of VA intelligence in figuring out how to adjudicate claims. The first thing that comes to my mind is an almost anal obsession with making sure you file the claim on the correct form. But then it got worse last fall. And worser last winter. By March of this year, what I suspected as something that couldn’t get any more fusterclucked than it was already managed to compound itself with interest. It’s as if telecommuting VA raters came down with a severe case of dumbshititis. It’s like reading a revisionist version of the Ten Commandments and someone saying “See. Right here. It says ‘It’s cool to bear false witness against  another’.” I’m not making this up. Other VA attorneys I talk to (we’re a loquacious bunch) all say the same thing- Does the virus make you stupid? Are these folks carriers? Is this one of them QAnon conspiracy things? No. Just kidding on the last one. But now that you think about it…

As you know, if you’ve ever filed a claim for something in the past, you now can only use the VAF 20-995 “Supplemental” claims form to reopen it. Of course, this now comes with a requirement that you (not VA) produce new and relevant evidence in order to get a can opener into your old claim. That duty to assist you thing is now a one-shot coupon. If you filed a 526 to start a new claim, that’s the last time you get the duty to assist on it-ever. So… if you lose, it becomes infinitely harder to prove your claim ever after. However, this legal concept doesn’t carry over into the VA world of Motions to Revise (CUE) old, final decisions from the ancient past. In these instances, we can use a paper towel as long as it has your name, rank, airspeed, tail number and last known heading. Or so we were told. I filed a CUE for my client on a 526 back in December. A month later, I got the Dear Alex letter back informing me the “claim” could not be ‘accepted’ this way. I was told to choose from the menu of three (995, 996 or 10182). I immediately refiled on a 995. As this was a new iteration of CUE, it was certainly permissible legally to use anything-including toilet paper (as if I could find any). The dolt in San Juan, P.R. who drew this out of the queue informed me in a decision four days later that it was being tossed out because I had not presented any “new and relevant evidence” to reopen my CUE. Let that sink in if you know a lot about CUE. If you don’t, here’s the primer.

But that is not the end of the matter. I love to use that phrase in my legal briefs. It has a rather ominous rumbling sound like dark clouds on the horizon portending lightning. Since Mario Caluza’s revelation to us all in 1994 on what we needed to have to prevail escaped from its Pandora’s box, we know we need three things. This was the subject of my book in 2012 because the Vetsphere was an utter vacuum on the subject. I lectured and preached for years on that precept and it’s always held true right up until it didn’t about a week or ten days into the corona lockdown in early March. I’d counseled a Vet’s wife back in ’15 into how to file a “hybrid” claim for her husband. It was a cross between an §1151 medical malpractice and a service connection for the underlying reason for the VA’s liver transplant fiasco. I raised it for the first time as a direct claim in the NOD a la Combee v Brown. Just before the Little Rock DRO fired off the denial of the §1151, she noticed I’d snuckered that “either/or” Combee codicil in there. This meant disengaging the afterburner, standing on the binders and popping the drogue chute as you sail past  V1. She had to send  it back to production to deny the contraction of the Hep C in service. Bingo. They bit down hard. Hey, I warned her if she denied I was going to go out and get an IMO. A VARO’s gotta know their limitations when dealing with me. They bit and denied it based only on this being an §1151 claim. I called up the DRO and said “Hey, sugar. It was you who went into the HCV denial-not me. You  recognized it as a reasonably raised claim in your denial. I’m only responding to your denial-and on the right 995 form to boot. VA isn’t allowed to play Indiangiver. Ooops. Can’t say that. They immediately choked and puked and granted. What else could they do? Three days later my blind client with a killer IMO for malaria prophylaxis overdose (Primaquine) who ended up in the Cam Ranh Bay hospital was denied by a Jackson Mississippi rater  saying a Optometrist’s data and conclusions outweighed my well-reasoned IMO by a real Ophthalmologist surgeon with 8 peer-reviewed cites and a ten-page CV. To reach this amazing finding of fact, you need to compare it to an Optometrist as a bed pan changer arguing with a Board Certified Brain Surgeon. Yeppers. The Jackson boy said an optometrist was like a Full House with aces over eights compared to my ophthalmologist’s  pair of kings any day. Arrrrooohhh? Then it got worse-again at the Jackson Puzzle Palace.

This time it was a well-reasoned IMO for a Vet out of Kansas for Hep C. They blamed this ol’ boy for drinking himself silly and the high ASTs/ALTs showing all that liver distress were due solely to his being extremely trashed or hammered (ETOH). My Hep C hepatologist/ gastrodoc corrected that misconception and went on to explain how your liver disintegrates on a very steady, predictable timeline-with or without the help of Scotch.  In VA’s dyslexic eyes, the fact that he was cirrhotic and in need of a new liver had everything to do with the booze. But that wasn’t enough. The rater went off road and dragged §3.309(a) into it. Seems if you don’t come down with cirrhosis within that first year of separation, why, you cain’t claim it 40 years later. That’s right out. Claim denied. The IMO doctor has rocks in her socks. You’re wasting your time, Graham. Go tell it to a BVA VLJ.

I called up our fixer gal at the Appeals Management Office on the banks of the Potomac and screamed Help! Stupid Rater Alert in Jackson! The Head Vets Service Center Manager down there had refused to even consider replying to lowly asknod’s email. The AMO was a different matter. He promptly emailed us both and said “Relax. I’m on it and we’ll fix it.” Now, a month later, not a finger has been lifted to readjudicate Kansas Chuck’s claim using the proper legal standard of review-i.e. Caluza. Nary a word about the probative value of the IMO. Negatory. The rater avers this puppy fails on §3.309(a) alone. So I give up. Where can I get some of this killer Fort Jackson Funderthuck ganja? My local pot shop (essential service, mind you) doesn’t carry it.  I gave (wait for the unmasking) Mr. Sam Young, Jackson VARO VSC, a month to clothesline himself and correct the legal error. Ooops. Times ups Sammy. You get a three day vacation in the interim.  Zero hour is now 0800 Local (1100 EST) Tuesday. The email will be sent to VASEC Wilkie and all the Poohbahs at the AMO. Somehow, I’m thinkin’ as I’m gonna disremember to cc ol’ Sammy. I’d allow the shitstorm will arrive over Mississippi about an hour later. A Vet shouldn’t have to put up with this tomfoolery. And with the chinashit going around, I read that VA telecommuter raters’ work performance has increased fourfold. Arrrroooohh?

I figure if you can unmask a Lieutenant General of the Marines who didn’t do anything wrong but serve his country, then VA isn’t going to get their nose bent out of shape about me unmasking some so-and-so GS-14 at a nowheresville RO who can’t find his ass with a methane detector. We shall see.

Take a moment to remember your loved ones who served America. They done good. America is still here just as strong and proud as it was in 1776. Set  your politics aside and consider this conundrum. Somehow, there’s always going to be one nation under God that is the top dog. Right now, we’re it. Is there something wrong with that?

Memorial Day always reminds me that for those of us who have borne the battle, alive or dead, the battle seems to never end and the folks hired to help us seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on our tax nickel coming up with increasingly more far-fetched theories on why they don’t owe us a dime. Considering I’ve won everything I set out to do for my Vets so far, it’s my considered opinion that we’re working with folks who are dealing with marked cards or a stacked deck. Worse, they look me right in the eye with a straight face and tell me they are doing everything but breaking the regulations to give my clients “everything they got coming.” Sadly, that phrase is always a double entendre. Don’t get me wrong. We’re not losing. We’re just uncovering how despicable these folks are- one by one. Too bad they’ve outlawed capital punishment dang near everywhere. Lucky my daddy taught me how to tie a hangman’s noose.

Here’ my favorite Vets- my Daddy and my Uncle.

I was born south of the Mason Dixon line so I apologize if a bit of my past sneaks into my speech. I was taught you cut on the water and you cut it off. You turn off when you get to the road where you’re going. Reckon is a verb et cetera.

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

P.S. If you really need toilet paper, wear a bulky sweatshirt/jacket and take a paperclip down to Cheapo Depot® Hardware Store. I hear the TP dispensers are incredibly easy to pick the locks on. Just sayin’.

P.P.S. Practicing Dog social distancing. (M-Mature Audience Suggested)

Posted in 1151 claims, All about Veterans, Blue Water Navy, Complaints Department, CUE, Duty to Assist, Food for the soul, HCV Epidemiology, Humor, KP Veterans, Memorial Day, Nexus Information | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments



Our illustrious Governor is pulling a Groundhog Day on us. I reckon he came out of his mansion and didn’t see his shadow. Yep. Six more weeks of isolation. I get that. This is the Northwest. That doesn’t begin to happen until about June. It’s caused by a local phenomenon called April Showers. Fortunately, as a VA litigator, I don’t get out much anyway. I spend most of my time on Fort Facebook. No. Just kidding. I go there to pick up good jokes and sample the mood of the nation-both the sane and insane. It’s scary out there. No wonder Mark Zuckerberg is running around with his Whackamole hammer trying to tamp down some of the tomfoolery afoot. I’m generally not big on censorship but some of the stuff I see is beyond the pale. 

The Jackster

Hereabouts, we’ve had seven (7) cases in my neck of the woods. Two deaths were attributed to it but they were never tested. They were 88 and 91 respectively. My guess is it was a 50-50 call. If a body got any kind of flu at that age, I’d be putting the Funeral home on speed dial just in case they weren’t Jack LaLanne types. Hey, did you ever notice that hair? Pretty sketchy. I’m almost positive that’s a rug. Cupcake can spot them a mile away just like she can folks who are not happy with their assigned sexual identity. Is that how I’m supposed to say it? Political correctness will be the death of me.

On another note, I got a big win on an old client. Terry heard me on a Hadit radio show way back in 2017 and called me up for a claims review. Terry has Muscular Dystrophy baaaaaaaad. He began coming down with it in service and had to retire because of it. I admire Terry. He’s gung ho. He went Operation Bootstrap and opted into a college education with the six-year hook of service as an officer  and a gentleman following. He banked that into a total of 20-odd years and a light Colonel. That’s some kind of dedication to America.

I assembled all his ratings and the pertinent data of the latest denial. We talked for an hour or two and I agreed to rep. him. I have to refund my claims review fee when this happens. The law is explicit. No dinero to take a claim. Only the 20% if VA recoups it or up to 33% if one of the big boys like CCK takes it.  Well boy howdy so much for the sympathetic development of his claim as a pro se litigant. VA started in with “Hey, dude. You’re the one who insisted we adjudicate it under nerves. Just because the ratings schedules in DCs 8513 and 8520 stop at 70% for your extremities isn’t our fault. Maybe you should have filed for Multiple Sclerosis and we woulda looked at it different. We can’t change it now…” In truth, the Army Medical Board chose it and the VA continued it. We were leaning towards DC 5110 for LOU of the lower extremities because poor old Terry was having the devil’s own time walking with Canadian crutches and one of those AFO rigs on one foot. Talk about foot drop. How about body drop when you fall down? How about Help I’ve fallen down and there’s nobody around to help me get up again. Hellooooooooooooooo?

Fort Deny, Mississippi

I flew down to Jackson, Miss. for the DRO hearing and dang near got frog-marched out the door by the jackbooted VA Po-lice. They accent that on the first syllable down there. In fact, it almost sounds like two words. I’m not kidding you. The DRO booth bitch put me on notice that if I didn’t quit spouting off about SMC and R1 that I was going to be persona non grata and how would my client feel about attempting this without me?

Right. That was a dry hole figuratively speaking. No pun intended.  Terry and I went back to the drawing Board. That would be drawing the Board of Appeals option. I put great stock in doing live hearings. With the advent of the new AMA, they are a thing of the past unless you want to make the trek back to DC and 1425 I street and do a meet and greet. We did. We got a January 5, 2020 date and rendezvoused there the night before for a confab on the Order of Battle. No. Just kidding. The Hyatt Regency in DC is right around the corner from Judiciary Square and they have six single malts and great chow. Well, not as good as some of the recipes in that Pow Wow Chow book put out by some Cherokee Senator from Oklahoma er- Massachusetts with the high cheekbones. Man, her cowboy caviar is to die for. Them fresh-caught Muskogee crawdad cakes are the cat’s pajamas too. Cupcake and I are working our way through the recipes during this corona thing. My LRRP buddy Ed thinks this bug should be called the Chinese Tariff Revenge.

Author and client

Terry and I bided our time/drinking our wine and sure enough the Judge (David Wight) cut a really good decision on this for R1. Hey, Terry earned it. Oddly, it’s the first BVA decision I’ve seen that only had about two or three cites to law in it. A lot of it was just 38 CFR or allusions to §1114 SMC stuff. Usually a decision has about  20 or 30 of them in there and most of them are not your friends. This points to one interesting fact. There simply isn’t very much cutting edge law on the higher SMCs besides Breniser and Jensen yet. Seems VA avoids it like coronavirus and hopes it’ll go away before it breaks the VA fisc.

Now, my Monday morning armchair quarterback analysis of the decision is Judge Wight didn’t want to let the camel’s nose in under the tent and go near my Breniser argument about “conditions”. To me, a condition is one of the ones in SMC L (§3.350(b). There are four listed -bedridden, blindness, A&A or loss of use of a combo of extremities be it leg and leg, arm and arm or arm and leg. Each one is a condition. Judge Wight was leaning on condition as in Muscular Dystrophy versus PTSD versus IHD ad nauseum. He was looking long and hard at the fact that Terry was granted A&A right out of the box at retirement  based in large part on the virtual total loss of his upper extremities due entirely to Muscular Dystrophy. The loss of use of his walking tools was an extra “condition” caused by his Musc. Dystrophy. I had that covered with §3.350(e) saying all the losses of extremities and A&A are part and parcel of one disease process but that’s the incorrect legal standard of review. Don’t get me wrong. It’s certainly one way of looking at it but not the prima facie reason in my fight here. Besides, I want to push Veterans law in the Breniser “conditions” direction. Our job as litigators is to continually push for more rights, better  interpretations of regulation and stretch the law to encompass a better outcome. The BVA hates to venture into new precedence. They leave that to the CAVC/CAFC.

Here’s Terry’s Great Big Adventure in DC. I was born there. I love the place. I Cub Scouted every memorial in DC and even went barefoot in the Washington Memorial Reflection pool. Shades of Jenny in Forest Gump, huh?

Terry BVA brief redact

R1 Redact

SMC? No such thing

Nothing tickles my funny bone more than winning SMC R claims. I’m losing count of how many but I’m guessing it puts one hell of a dent in the VA cash cow. R1 is $96 K+/year. R2 is $108K.  I found out quite by accident that there are less than 2,000 Vets in R1 or R2. The reason is simple. They don’t teach this to VSOs. It’s impossible to file a Vet for it if you’ve never heard of it. I’ve asked a number of them about it and I get the deer in the headlights response. SMC? Yeah, that’s a…a….ah pension thing. We do them all the time.

I recently got an email from a kindred spirit in this business. David’s a VSO and reads my drivel to figure out how this works. He even was nice to me and said all VSOs aren’t total dicks. After chatting, I have to begin lightening up on them. Hey, a knowledgeable VSO is better than nothing in this game. Considering VA attys/agents are as rare as hen’s teeth when you need one, VSOs serve also who only lick a stamp and send it in.  Actually, the more educated they become, the more lethal. Which gives me an idea. I wonder if I should go down to Tacoma and join the VFW? I could sit in the bar and educate them from a VBM. I could fake it and act like I got it from the public library and was amazed at what I was reading… I’d probably get 86’d for having an IQ over 86. It’s a thought. Most of them die (my thoughts) shortly after that little thought balloon forms over my head with the little circles leading up to it.

Here’s the latest  Corona humor if there is such a thing…

Last, I wish to remember all my Friends who didn’t come home from SEA. It pulls my string to see the bugout on April 21st through May 5th 1975. Nothing like coming in third and getting the bronze instead of the gold. To me, this is the day they should give to Vietnam Vets. The only thing worse than misreporting history is some chowderhead who can’t even identify an AirAm chopper from a USMC one.  Worse even yet, the below was the AirAm building- not the US Embassy. Ours had bullshit registration numbers too. We called them Elvis Presley registrations- return to sender, address unknown… no such number…

Funny thing was I had signed up for Rotary wing school and was going to join and go back over working for AirAm. Maybe that was a blessing we got out when we did.

Be safe.

Posted in Aid and Attendance, All about Veterans, Appeals Modernization Act, BvA Decisions, Corona pandemic, Corona virus, FACE HUMOR, Inspirational Veterans, R1/R2, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA statistics, Veterans Law, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments