Memorial Day 2017

When I think of Memorial Day as a holiday now, from the attenuated viewpoint of a Veterans Advocate, my memories drift back to my first few months in country in Thailand. Some one lied and said I spoke French and the jig was up. Off to Saigon I went, TDY for the Great Big Interview. I reported as ordered to the 7th TACC ( Tactical Air Combat Control) Center. This was the nerve center for anything having to do with dropping ordnance or marking the drop zone.

After the dog and pony show TACC  briefing and the $2 dollar tour, I sat down with a Major and began discussion on why I was there. Every question was followed by “Just sign here and I’ll brief you in”. When you’re volunteering for something, it’s always nice to know where your new APO address is going to be. Regardless of what I asked, I was met with the “I can’t tell you until you volunteer”. My last question was the kicker. “So what are the odds? What’s the casualty rate?” Major Whatshisbutt’s rejoinder will always echo in my head to this day. “Well, to be truthful, 40% so far but we’re hoping to improve on that. Don’t let that figure fool you. That includes being wounded too.”

To this day, I will always think of those 40%, some of whom remain nameless because they departed for the next plane of existence before I arrived and some after I left. Back in 1970, I focused on the rather narrow obverse equation-that 60% survived and went home more or less intact. Testosterone is a powerful aphrodisiac in war and causes you to do many things that, in retrospect, you would never contemplate ordinarily. No 19 year-old, including me could resist that secretive kind of Terry and the Pirates briefing. To this day, I will never regret exclaiming “Where do I sign?” regardless of the ensuing medical and financial travails in the last 20 years.

This Memorial Day keep those 40% close to you in your memories. One of them might have been a parent or relative. They may have been a brief acquaintance who failed to complete their tour. Vietnam was a study in anonymity. We did not arrive together as a trained, cohesive unit nor did we depart en masse when our tour was completed. We were assigned on an as-needed basis and we rarely knew the folks we were assigned to work with. Some of the guys I served with up north also had pseudo-names like Benjamin Franklin or Jack Smith.  Knowing we might lose this tenuous bond abruptly, very few of us were outgoing enough to make lasting friendships. This saved us from the hurt and anguish of that inevitable loss just over the horizon. Now, in retrospect, I regret that. The anguish might have been unbearable and painful then but the remembered friendship would be welcome in my waning years.

Perhaps that is the reason I tear up at the sight of a flag-draped coffin being unloaded from aircraft at Dover AFB in times of war. The anonymity is still there but the camaraderie and the tightly knit bond of a fellow serviceman’s passing-one of those legendary 40%- is still omnipresent.

Capt. (posthumous) Chuck Engle, 2/22/71 KHA

And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Happy Memorial Day and enjoy the freedom others gladly bought and paid for you this weekend.

Posted in KP Veterans, Memorial Day, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments


Without commenting one way or the other, I offer this article to the readership as information only. As most know, I was sued along with others over our scandalous allegations of impropriety and sarcastic humor in February 2015. I earned the lawsuit for my arrogant attitude and improper allegations. 

I would certainly not say “Hey, I told you so.” even though tempted. The article below merely echoes what the US Senate found. Guidestar and Charity Navigator tried desperately to distance themselves from my allegations but now appear to agree for the most part. Sic Semper Tyrannus. I await my apology.

Posted in KP Veterans, Veterans Charity concerns | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments


One thing I love about Extraordinary Writs is the alacrity that enervates the DVA when it hits 625 Native American Ave. NW. Before it can even be docketed this time, I have a decision back from the Seattle Regional Office hot off the press. In order to appear as though it was in the pipeline all along and already a fait accompli, you will notice the decision is dated April 11th, 2017. That’s VA’s way of subtly trying to make it appear this occurred last month and their printer simply ran out of ink. Shit happens. I get that. I just find it an incredible coincidence the decision document arrived a mere four (4) working days after the mailing of the Extraordinary Writ. Good heavens. I checked this morning and it hasn’t even been docketed yet.

Padewans wishing to understand this phenomenon might take note of certain forensic clues as to where it originated from. VA would have us believe it traveled from afar. While the return address ostensibly declares it made its way all the way across country from the new 57th Cheeseville, Wisconsin Regional Office known as the EIC, reality is the impossibility of any such thing ever happening.

The USPS doesn’t go along with mistruths and the mailing zip code is no other than 98174- or Seattle.  The mailing date is also May 15th… How could it be otherwise in less than a week? Nevertheless, that’s pretty damn quick.

What is even more entertaining, as I mentioned above, is the fabrication this was already in the pipeline and our missives merely crossed paths like ships in the night. The decision date is May 12th, 2017. Considering I mailed it May 12th, 2017 at 1327 Hrs (L) from Vaughn, Washington 98394, and the expected delivery date was Saturday afternoon the 13th, it’s a mighty big stretch of the imagination to think they made this momentous grant prior to its mailing. I’m game. Shit, maybe they’re prescient and all-knowing like Johnny Carson’s Karnak the All-knowing. I wonder if they keep this info at Funk and Wagnall’s in a large, sealed mayonnaise jar? Maybe they have microphones and secret cameras watching my every keystroke.  Regardless the method, I am suitably impressed with their verve and devotion to setting the record straight before I complained.

Here’s a screenshot of this amazing prestidigitation.


Perhaps this is the “World-class service” we Veterans have been promised recently that was described to us at the recent NOVA convention in San Antonio. Regardless the predicate, I am full of appreciation for the “new VA” approach to claims adjudication and resolving old, old problems before the complaint even arrives. That it take just the threat of the Ex. Writ to accomplish it is exhilarating beyond belief. Just imagine what will happen when the CAVC actually dockets it and politely asks the Secretary what the two-year hold up is all about vis-a-vis the  greenhouse? Will I wake up next week and find it already built a month ago?  Yep, and probably in the wrong location-with VA’s propensity to screw things up.

One thing VA attorneys and advocates should note: this is the very first decision-ever- granted for a 100% schedular evaluation for Porphyria Cutanea Tarda. As such, it isn’t precedential but if the circumstances are identical for a similarly situated Veteran, it will suffice as a guide to a similar rating for others. In the past, we hit the wall with a 40% for phlebotomies under DC 7704. I did win 60% separately for Anemia (DC 7700, 1994) which was VA’s stopgap measure to grant SMC S back to 1994. It remained, however less than the highest award possible under AB v. Brown (1993). I searched high and low for an analogous rating that would approximate continuous phlebotomies and settled on 38 CFR 4.115a (dialysis). Apparently, the BVA Judge felt the same way or I have the ultimate golden tongue.

Delay, Deny…until we cry. This sadly concludes all my outstanding grievances with the VA with the exception of that pesky greenhouse matter. All in good time. More anon.

P.S. CAVC 17-1450 docketed @ 7:22:51 AM EDT

P.P.S. Judge Bartley assigned three minutes later @ 0725 Hrs PDT


Posted in All about Veterans, CAVC Knowledge, Complaints Department, Equitable tolling, Extraordinary Writs of Mandamus, Independent Living Program, KP Veterans, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA Attorneys, vA news, VBMS Tricks, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


For those of you who enjoy that Habitat for Humidity steam room feel with  clammy, sweaty skin, and insist on living on the East Coast to relish it all summer, I salute you. I lived in that world for 18 years and merely traded it for an equally hot, humid country.  

I wisely chose to stay out west after separation and enjoy the 0%  humidity of the Mojave Desert. 40 degrees until 0700 and then a steady climb to the 80s-100s all day. Then the reverse to 0200 and 40 again.

Washington state, we tell prospective Californians, is dull, dreary cloudy skies with tons of rain and vastly over-priced real estate. People don’t tan here. They rust.  We tell them our water tastes weird. Big volcanos go off all the time. Earthquakes. Doom. Birth defects. Nuclear waste. Even all those lies aren’t enough to stop them from coming.

As most know, Cupcake and I drove down to San Antonio and saw Jack the Cat,  friends, clients and wild burros. Friday and Saturday were devoted to ‘book-learnin’  about the myriad ways VA comes up with to delay or deny claims and how to outmanuvre them. We got the VA Dog and Pony show put on by Mr. James Ridgway and a Doctor Edward Zech who is the resident nexus provider at the BVA. If  VA needs to know pronto what generally causes a disease/injury, they turn to him to receive the answer. He’s the VA’s HAL 9000 with artificial intelligence. Think back to the old days when Mr. William M. Colvin called into question why BVA judges could make decisions medical in nature with no specific Medical doctor training. Think how many of us lost out on that until 1991. Dr. Zech is on hand 24/7 to render a quick nexus if needed on the spur of the moment.

Enjoy the show. Call in on


Press 1 to talk, over

Posted in NOVA Attorneys, SVR Radio on, Uncategorized, VA Agents, VA Attorneys, VA statistics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are the walls tumbling down?

The American Legion sponsored a free HCV screening in Vermont last week  according to the Burlington Free Press (Link).  Information on the HCV-jet injector connection is given in the announcement along with this graphic.

“Military veterans are five times more likely than the general population to develop this disease, which attacks the liver, according to UVM Medical Center. Hepatitis C kills more than 1 million Americans every year.

Dr. Doris Strader, a hepatologist and gastroenterologist at UVM Medical Center, said Hepatitis C is a virus, and is asymptomatic, meaning the majority of people who are afflicted are unaware they have the disease.

“People do not get sick and as a result can have the virus for 20 or 30 years,” Strader said. “Patients suffer chronic inflammation of the liver and scarring that can lead to cancer.”

People born between 1945 and 1965 are at increased risk for developing Hepatitis C, for “unclear reasons,” Strader said. Vietnam veterans are particularly at risk. Hepatitis C is contracted from exposure to blood. In addition to the risks of combat, veterans were exposed to multiuser vaccination guns that could lead to infection.

Strader explained that veterans would line up in a row to be vaccinated one after the other with the same gun, creating the possibility of being exposed to someone else’s blood.  “Nowadays everybody gets a separate vaccination,” Strader said. “Back in the day there were less than sterile practices.”

It seems like more than a stroke of good luck that I read this article today because I have a “new patient” appointment with Dr. Strader this week.   I need to discuss my own health issues with the good doctor but I also will tell her about my jet injector–a gift courtesy of the Graham family–and interest in this topic. Perhaps she knows someone who might be willing to help us develop research questions, or study designs that will eventually help us get the impartial scientific statistical and/or experimental evidence we need to understand all the major risk factors/exposures that led to the remarkable and tragic HCV epidemic among the veteran population. It would also be advantageous to obtain unpublished studies which must exist in government archives.

Posted in General Messages, Guest authors, HCV Epidemiology, HCV Health, Jetgun Claims evidence | 9 Comments

Nurse tip to me: hospital socks: “throw them out!”

click socks–Can You Get Sick From Germs on Hospital Floors? “Non-slip socks are intended to be used for only short periods of time and are single-use medical devices. However, patients in the hospital tend to wear them around the clock and walk around the hospital with them, visiting toilets, coffee shops, gift shops, common areas, and so forth. People often wear the same socks for several days straight and take them to bed, too. In a 2016 short report published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, Mahida and Boswell found VRE on 85 percent of socks and MRSA on nine percent. Furthermore, VRE was found on 69 percent of hospital floors tested, and MRSA was found on 17 percent of floors tested. Of note, the power of this study was low and sample sizes were small. The researchers conclude that non-slip socks, which are usually in contact with hospital floors, are a potential nidus of infection. The authors suggest that these socks should be discarded after use and not be worn for extended periods of time. Exactly how long these socks can be donned, however, is unclear, and more research needs to be done.”

Reason:  they are full of dangerous germs you don’t want to bring home. I believed her and trashed lots of them during my recent hospital stays.

I spent a week in the hospital post colon rectal surgery and another week return trip to deal with horrible complications.  Home at last, I now have lovely visiting nurses, hubby and son, keeping me sane.  Three weeks prior to the surgery, I learned that diverticulitis disease had severely scarred my sigmoid colon  and that it would have to be removed.  And, then a temporary ileoscomy would be constructed until my innards had healed and my plumbing could be hooked up again. That means another big surgery in a few months.

Pretty drastic news but I was convinced that it was either cope with the new reality and surgery or put my affairs in order because sepsis would be a likely outcome. The odd thing is that I have only had two flare-ups of abdominal pain–the last one being horrendous–in the last two years or in my entire life.  And it took about 4 months to get anyone to take tummy problems seriously enough to investigate. I had to create some drama to get help.

This is not a good time to need surgery or pain meds.  With the opiate crisis raging, and doctors under fire, good luck getting enough pain relief to heal, rest or walk to the bathroom. Tylenol however is dispensed with a cheery smile.  I am haunted daily by the screams of a poor confused elderly woman enduring a painful procedure forced on her, against her wishes, without sedation first. (I reported it to the charge nurse.)

Why are pain medications being denied to patients who need it?  Why are drug addicts’ problems even part of  decision making?  State governments have helped to create this situation by not establishing methadone and harm reduction clinics to treat addicts and work with them over time.  Politics over science and common sense = lousy public health policies. And the media- tabloid’s influence can’t be denied as a driver of this hysteria.


Posted in Food for thought, General Messages, Guest authors, Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments


I have been invited back because every time Jerrel asks me about how things went in San Antonio at the NOVA conferences, why, we get a caller and the subject gets put on hold. To repair that, we’re going to go on for a third time next Thursday, May 18th at the usual Bat time and Bat channel ( 1600 Local Left Coast time). The National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA) continues to grow and reach out to the Veteran population.

VA, in turn, has begun a new “fix-it” program and assigned  an accomplished VA employee (usually a Veteran) in the slot to help VA attorneys and nonattorney practitioners get their Veterans’ claims back on track. There are 57 of them including one at the Appeals Management Center, now called the Appeals Management Office. VA has moved all the Appeals Teams’ coaches there into one setting and can better supervise VACOLS and the appeals picture at all the Regional Offices. I had occasion to encounter this twice now at both the Seattle Office and the Phoenix RO.

The new contact list will have a VA employee with plenipotentiary powers to right wrongs or get answers in short order. It will not, however, be a call-in center to find out when the DRO hearing is going to happen or when the VA 8 is going to be issued certifying any given claim.

VA is changing the way they do business très slowly, but it is changing, nevertheless. When you’re whaleshit, the only place to float to is up. Right?

Posted in NOVA Attorneys, SVR Radio on, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA Attorneys, vA news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment