VETERANS DAY 2019–UDORN RTAFB– MY BAND OF BROTHERS

Ray w/ captured DShK .51 cal. in 7th ACCS aircrew briefing room

Yet another Veterans Day story in the “pages of our war” lives. This one hits closer to home for me on several different levels. I wish to introduce you to Ray from Texas. Once upon a time, Ray served over me in a  C-130 with a Theatre Air Control suite. Several air controllers could summons and direct vast air assets where needed. Ray’s 130 flew a racetrack pattern over Military Region II (MRII)- code name Barrel Roll. South of us along the Vietnam/Laos border was a similar MR III called Steel Tiger. Most of it was unrecognizable at 32,000 ASL. Hillsboro’s racetrack pattern was primarily over the Plaine des Jars… once upon a time… in a farwaway country that rhymed with “mouse”. My nondisclosure agreement expires next September 20th (2020) or I’d go into greater detail. It’s a dilly of a story. It makes Terry and the Pirates look like a bunch of Snowflakes.

His was often the voice that greeted us on 118.9 Mhz upcountry when we called in requests for air strikes. His call sign was Hillsboro. The nighttime version of this was Cricket.  In all probability, I probably talked to this man more than once 49 years ago. That he would find me, Buckwheat,  and seek representation for AO in Thailand is a fantastic coincidence. Even more so, that I could take his BVA remand and turn it in to a full-blown route in his favor is better than a Supersized Roy Rodgers with three maraschino cherries and extra juice. You get better odds on  Scratch and Sniff Lotto tickets for $1000.

Ray in front of Hillsboro Operations Hqrs. Udorn RTAFB 1970

Of all Vets, even as a Thailand-based Vet, Ray should not have had to fight this fight. He was aircrew and they often had to beat feet and land at Da Nang or Cam Ranh if the NVAF sent any Migs up to snoop around. With that testimony and his Air Medal showing combat, he should have been granted presumptive exposure and not been put through five years of pure hell. Prostate cancer and the post-cancer residuals are pretty nasty. Throw in some serious DM II/PN and you have a world of misery on top of your VA claims.

Ray came to me and needed a repair order. What kind, he was unsure of. I made no bones about it about ten seconds after I got my CMA to expedite the Power of Attorney in VA’s computer. I plumb laid into the David Koresh Memorial Regional Office in Whacko, Texas. I let them know this was not going to be a Texas Necktie Party on my watch. I made it clear I was getting a SME (Subject Matter Expert) IMO (Independent Medical Opinion) to rebut anything they came up with for a new hangman’s noose and a fresh horse. I just didn’t say when. Within a month, some gomer GS-13 with a goofy voice named Fred McGonagil or similar rings me up and says he’s figured this all out. Stay with me now. This is going to grate on some of you Thailand Vets’ ears if you’ve been fighting this thing for a while.

Since our boy Ray had to pack up the 7th ACCS’s paraphernalia and take it from Udorn to Korat RTAFB via a deuce and half in ’71 when they relocated, it stood to reason that he had to have gone off base and was exposed to- guess what?- AO- or rather ‘tactical herbicides’- in polite Thai parlance. The King had forbidden its spraying in his country. He wasn’t any dummy. By now, he’d had a decade to appreciate what Agents Pink, Green, Purple and Super Orange had wrought in Laos and the Vietnams. I guess he figured A White and A Blue were not quite so toxic. Fat chance. Worse, when we quit spraying it in the RVN, they just transshipped all the leftovers where it was needed… around the inside perimeters of our bases in Thailand.

Ray airborne in ABCC A/C over MR II circa 1971.

You can see why this dog won’t hunt. AO (or whatever) was sprayed, as I just mentioned above, inside the perimeter to keep firing lines clear. Of course, if the gooks got inside the wire, our barracks were about 40 feet away anyway. We would have been toast in seconds but every one of us already walked through AO to go anywhere on base. If exposure was to be granted for being outside the wire, it brings into question all the troops who went off base every weekend to go drinking.

So, my guess is they did some JSRRC (Joint Services Records Research Center)  sniffing and the command history of the 7th ACCS popped up showing occasional diversions to a RVN base. What better way to dodge the stupidity bullet and admitting your ignorance when you can unilaterally alter the regulations by granting SC for being off base. Who will ever know? About everyone who reads this blog, I hope. Hell, based on this, having a STD should automatically give all of you Thai Vets presumptive status, right?

Regardless, VA has screwed up as only they can. §3.103(c), written by our beloved Secretary, states in no uncertain terms…

38 CFR § 3.103 – Procedural due process and other rights.

§ 3.103 Procedural due process and other rights.

(a) Statement of policy. Every claimant has the right to written notice of the decision made on his or her claim, the right to a hearing, and the right of representation. Proceedings before VA are ex parte in nature, and it is the obligation of VA to assist a claimant in developing the facts pertinent to the claim and to render a decision which grants every benefit that can be supported in law while protecting the interests of the Government. The provisions of this section apply to all claims for benefits and relief, and decisions thereon, within the purview of this part 3.

That’s pretty powerful Ju-Ju. What it means is VA forgot to grant Ray SMC K for loss of use of a creative organ. Worse, they short-sheeted him on SMC S as well. Buie v. Shinseki is unequivocal that you must maximize any award and most especially SMC awards. Having prostate cancer sort of screws things up as only VA knows. Worser, DM II also does, too. Worser yet, VA knows all this. How can they feign medical ignorance?

Ray got 20% for DM II, 40 % for PN R upper, 30% for L PN upper, 20% for L lower PN ; 20% for R Lower PN, 20% L lower femoral nerve PN and 20% R Lower femoral nerve PN. As you VA mathematicians can add, this is 82% (plus the bilateral factor if you’re terribly anal). Most importantly though, one of the DM II ratings is 40% or more with the balance adding up to 70% or more entitling Ray to TDIU consideration. Equally, a rating for Prostate cancer s/p remission at 60% is also equally entitled to consideration for TDIU.

VA chose to add all these ratings up to arrive at a “combined” rating of 100% or greater. However, this is incorrect. The proper way was to grant TDIU for the 60% s/p Prostate residuals and grant SMC K for LOU plus SMC K for an independently ratable 80% for the residuals of DM II. Or, in the obverse, grant TDIU for the DM II and award SMC S for the s/p Prostate. Six of one and half a dozen of another. Trust VA to come up with the least benefit possible. This is becoming the norm in VA “cost-cutting” since the AMA was dreamed up back in 2017.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for poor Ray. One of these days you folks will believe me when I say VA is not your BFF. Anyway, it’s one hell of a Veterans Day warm, fuzzy tale and its entirely true, or will be, in 9/2020. Thank you Ray for trusting your appeals to me. I hope I passed the audition. Here’s a great shot of Ray and Muriel. It’s why I so love doing this work.

As a P.S. I wish to thank my local Les Schwab Tire Store in Gig Harbor, Washington for fixing two of my tires this morning for free and they weren’t even purchased there. The young man refused payment…and thanked me for my service. I knew that “I served in Vietnam” bumper sticker would pay off eventually. Did any of you know Les Schwab was a Veteran, too? 

 

 

 

Posted in Agent Orange, All about Veterans, DM II, From the footlocker, KP Veterans, SMC, Thailand AO presumptive path, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, Veterans Day, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Color of Kabul—Veteran artists impress

Happy Veterans Day!

The VA runs social programs designed to build morale and skills by doing enjoyable things.  One just finished in Kalamazoo, Michigan (Oct. 28 -Nov.3).  It was called the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition and Festival. (LINK) The sponsors were the Am. Legion Auxiliary and Battle Creek VHA.

I’ve choosen four 1st Place Winners to share in honor of Veterans Day and in appreciation to all who shared their gifts with others.

The Color of Kabul

The Color of Kabul Military, Combat Experience, by Dennis Linn 2019 NVCA Competition   Click for larger image.

Lady in Bed

Lady in Bed, Oil Painting,  Jerry Zabel 2019 NVCA Competition   Click for larger image.

 

A Sacred Resting Place, Carving , John Lopez 2019 NVCA Competition  Click for larger image.

Sky Blue on Seven Mile Creek Pastels Richard Babcock 2019 NVCA Competition   Click for larger image.

National Veterans Sports Programs & Special Events
FAC T SHEET (LINK)

VA’s Flickr shows many different examples of the fine arts and folk arts that were in the exhibitions.  Enjoy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/veteransaffairs/albums

The above works are “museum” quality; congrats to all the creators uploaded on Flickr.  Beautiful work.

Guest author:  Laura (Kiedove)

 

Posted in All about Veterans, Food for the soul, Food for thought, Future Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, Uncategorized, vA news, Veterans arts, Veterans Day | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

CAVC–#19-7301–LZ CORK-BUTCH’S LAST STAND

I guess that header will grab you by the eyeballs if nothing else doesn’t. Yes, Ladies and Gentleman Veterans, to plagiarize a horse-racing term, I am finally busting my maiden as “First Chair” as litigators refer to the lead attorney at the Federal Circuit-or hell- any circuit for all I know about this shit. Remember, I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants in this VA law business now for all of three years and two months that I can admit to legally. My DIY “help” blog and book could have been used to prosecute me back in a more litigious-minded era a decade or three ago-but hold the phone, Joan. Speaking of the Devil.

Wait until I tell you about them spilling the beans at the Portland Fall NOVA extravaganza about all these hokey-paloky companies who play VA Sherpa and charge you $(XXX),XXX.OO or about 40% of your gross retro befoooooooore any shekels for the 20% attorney/agent fee. But wait. They get to fill in the blanks for all the “IMO”s and “Vocational Expert-Employability” costs with one of those fancy LRC, MMR CRI suffixes. Like  the VA rater’s gonna know what they are, right? No way. They’re looking for M.D. or ARNP. Okay. Imagine getting $50 K retro as a nice round figure. Your law dog, assuming you can never win using a VSO, gets 20% of this. It pays for the office, the secretaries, the $10,000 copy machine, six computers and a server. It pays for one of those secretaries whom is going to be a a paralegal. More $$.  It pays for the electricity, the internet hookup and a whole lot more. So that’s pretty straightforward. Oh, and that $200,000.00 student loan has to be serviced along with your home mortgage etc. So you cough up $10 K to the law dog and take home $40 K in the real world. But, if you fell for the ploy of getting a bush-league IMO (Independent Medical Opinion) from anyone but a top-drawer outfit like Mednick Associates and paid twice the price, watch out. If you can’t even spell the guy’s last name-let alone pronounce it (and his address is  1234 RR # 1, Lahore, Pakistan (did I mention that before?), you may be in for a rude surprise. Did I mention they don’t charge if you lose? So you’ve got that going for you.

See? You find out why DAV, VFW, AmVets, AmLeg, **P  and the other 144 Veterans Service Organizations do it for free. It’s also why only 12% of you prevail and win. This isn’t Powerball Lotto luck. It’s a science with a defined recipe for instant success.  This is why I’m a “practitioner” as they define me. I’m no longer a bystander. There are two kinds- a VA attorney or a VA Agent. If you are admitted to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, they promote you to “nonattorney practitioner”. I was granted that austere honor in November 2017-a day that will live in infamy for Shulkin and his progeny. Since the Court is always right in everything they do, I’m not going to pester them and tell them the “Esq.” after my name is incorrect. They’ll figure it out. What the hey. Maybe I got one of those “honorary degrees” in law and slept through it. Shit happens when you get old.

The Statute and Regulation permit only accredited legal help. It’s not a very exclusive club. Thousands and thousands all have their hats in this ring for Pension work/A&A in old folks’ homes. There is the second group who specialize in true litigation-benefits. NOVA consists of the creme de la creme of VA practitioners.  So if you used one of these new illegal interlopers with no VA accreditation,  they have no legal standing to sue you for failure to pay them. Let’s look at this.

The regulations are easy to read. §§14.628- ,636 explains it all. Twenty percent is the norm if you let VA collect it and give it to the lawyer. You never see it. Hey, they earned it in 99% of the cases I see.  A VSO guarantees 100% of nothing and invariably delivers- for the advertized price (free).Then there are the “bigwigs” who charge up to 33%. You can do this if you agree with your leagle beagle that you will pay him directly and cut out the VA middleman. I would never think of  charging more than 20%. Now throw in a 40% pre-gross rider from  your new Sherpa VA bloodsucker. Should be easy peasy shooting to put this scoundrel in jail for practicing without a license? Ne c’est pas?

BVA Chairman Cheryl Mason

That very question was asked in front of not only Board of Veterans Appeals Chairman Cheryl Mason and Director, AMC -Mr. David McLenachen. I deeply respect both of them. They are, by financial necessity, a captive audience and are not expected to bite the hand that feeds them. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that they were the ones to let the cat out of the bag. As officers of the court, they aren’t allowed to lie. The VA Office of Accreditation(OGC 21 D) nor the VA Office of Inspector General (VAOIG) has made any concerted effort whatsoever, to quash this new obscenity. Worse, a new one is popping up every month! The excuse seems to be a quandary over just who has judicial authority to ask for an indictment to desist or to enact a congressional statute to specifically forbid it with monetary and/or incarceration penalties. While VASEC fiddles,  810 Vermont Ave NW burns.

LZ CORK

Back to LZ Cork. If you’ve been reading any the 42 blogs that come up on the Search bar, you know all about  my neighbors Butch and Barb. This all began over a missing Purple Heart back in 2012-or early 13. I disremember exactly when Butch and I hooked up and had a beer summit in downtown Key Center, Washington. We live there. The town is like a John Denver song.

After mulling over my second loss in over a thousand, I’m satisfied that it’s not case or controversy so much as the money. We’re talking about an incredible amount and I don’t mind saying so. It’s always the 800-pound-elephant-on-the-sofa conversation topic but no one ever says so to my face. VA always calls it a “travesty of Justice” or an unfortunate confluence of events that created the fustercluck but ‘we made it right in 2015 so it’s all better. We’ll have no talk of §3.156(c) (1)(3)(4) here. There’s no claim.” Poof. Back to work. I choose to agree. When I set out on this journey, there was never any money in it for me. Nor, by law, was there any when they won in December 2015. Since I had begun my quest to become an agent in 2015 before they ever filed, it cannot be said with any certainty that I would become accredited in time to benefit financially. VA likes to say Justice Delayed is not Justice Denied. (Caffrey v. Brown). Horseshit, I say. It’s a matter of honor now for Butch. You call a man a liar who has a Purple Heart and CIB and you may get a spirited discussion on the subject. I think that falls into the category of a #ExistentialThreattoVeterans.

Cupcake and I have invested an incredible amount of our lives to this project-not just Butch and Barb. I saw a BlueBloods show last night about Project Innocence legal clinics and their worth. I read a great novel to and fro from Phoenix about the same subject- John Grisham’s  The Guardian. Great book. I liken myself to them. Our object in VA law is not to exonerate an accused felon. It’s to exonerate a Veteran wronged of his entitlement under law. I refuse to drag out all the eggs to omelettes analogies. Suffice it to say, I’ve discussed this with Butch and Barb many a time. We’ve had two noticeable financial successes but true entitlement- and a clear path to it legally-is simply too much to swallow for the VA fisc without a good fight. I expect I’ll be citing a lot of Martin v. Occupational Safety & Health Review Comm’n, 499 U.S. 144, 156 (1991) (explaining that “litigating positions’ are not entitled to deference when they are merely appellate counsel’s ‘post hoc rationalizations’ for prior agency action”). Thank you Mr. Martin.

I’m waiting on the Secretary to supply us with the damning Record Before the Agency (RBA) and a sixty day shot at the Rule 33 conference afterwards. The legal position is simple- no JMRs, No JPMRs. I want a Judge’s stamp order to remand this for implementation of entitlement to compensable TBI @ 30%, Tinnitus at 10%, headaches at 50%, and LOU of vision in the right eye @10% effective from 4/29/1970 RAD. That’s, of course, in addition to the 10% for the R hand SFW @10% and the new CUE of 10% for R Upper arm @ 10% which are now effective as of 4/29/1970. And, if I want to be a vindictive  asshole, I should ask for a Fenderson staged rating on all entitlements over the intercurrent fifty years. Here’s why you can do this.

Wilson v. Derwinski, 2 Vet. App. 16, 19 (1991)

The regulation (38 CFR §3.303(b) requires continuity

 of symptomatology, not continuity of treatment.

 

Think of that. You have the combat presumption under §1154b. Anything that comes out of your piehole is the truth regarding the etiology of your injuries and the resultant symptomatology that accompanies it for life. VA has to rebut your testimony of your symptomatology by clear and unmistakable evidence that rebuts your testimony. As anyone in this business knows, VA is held to the same CUE requirements we are. They don’t get a leg up in this dog and pony show. If there are no medical records to review in the last 50 years to make a determination, that is not the fault of Butch. Had they gone back to the NPRC to get the STRs, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. 

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that. Stay tuned on CM/EFR TV for an exciting conclusion to this now almost seven-year Odyssey.

Here’s the best of recent submissions. Humor is essential to life.

Posted in 2019 Fall NOVA Portland, 3.156(c), All about Veterans, CAVC Knowledge, CUE, KP Veterans, LZ Cork, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, Veterans Law, VSOs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

BORN TO BE WILD–THE NEWEST 100%ER CLUB MEMBER

Airman Anne  Vet circa 1996

There’s just nothing like a good All Hallow’s Eve story. This one was brought to me by my East Coast supervisor of VA Justice.  I reckon that was back in Summer 2018. Bruce McCartney is renowned throughout the Southeast States’ ROs as one who is not afraid to confront injustice. Especially so when it’s a fellow lady in VA distress. Meet Miz Anne from Del Rio, Tennessee. 

 

I get irritated more than I can say when folks say we (I and my fellow NOVA Members) are nothing more than VA Ambulance chasers. Considering most  attorneys who pursue similar law in the civilian sector get at least a 40% fee and instant payouts, that dog won’t hunt. In the same vein, I’ve been accused of ignoring pro bono Vets whose claims will not earn me any baksheesh. Again, that’s hooey. I just did two in a row this month- TDIU for one neighbor and one for a TBI secondary to driving over a mine in 1969 near An Loi.  The gal, Elaine, had been stuck at 70% + 10%+10%= 80% for 21 years. Everyone (read AmLeg/DAV/AmVets VA representatives) who had helped her over the years shrugged and threw up their hands when the Emerald City Memorial Regional Office 86’d her TDIU applications. She was basically a 100% TBI after a rollover in a ’64 VW Microbus just before separation. She said it was like being in a big washing machine with an untethered lawn mower.

Mr. An Loi (Stuart) with the Purple Heart also went through the washing machine after they drove over the anti-tank mine -inside a 18-wheeler tractor with his M 60 and eight ammo cans of  7.62 X 51 MM flying around his head. I got him up to 60% from 0%. I filed and Portland did just what I predicted. They granted rather than making me fight. Ergo, no fight = no samoles for me. Good deal. Maybe I’ll get to Heaven yet.  But let’s talk about our Queen for a Day- Mrs. Anne.

 ANNIE’S PORK AND BEANS

Shortly after Bruce Almighty sent Anne to me, she was on TV in Discovery Go’s Homestead Rescue- Season 4 Episode 3 Shock and Awe.   If you get a chance, set down a spell with a cold one and watch some real TV. It sure beats the Real Housewives of Memphis.

Anne’s new “off-grid” green power (120VAC rain or shine).

They also built her a small country store and the ability to have a reliable electrical source for her refrigerated goods. Life was getting better and now we add the VA game changer. Anne has been a candidate for 100% P&T for twenty or more years since she first filed. Like all of us, she didn’t gripe and complain when they gave her 10%. Until one day she did. VA blew her off and told her she had the vapors. Somebody told Bruce and Bruce told me. It was a case of “you’re it”. And here we are about 15 months later.

Back in the day, they’d call Anne’s condition “anxiety disorder” or “schizoid adaptation”. PTSD was pretty much reserved for combat Veterans. In the intervening years, psychiatrists began to recognize  PTSD could encompass any violent event- including Major Sexual Trauma (MST). Bent Brain Disorder is interesting. If the event is so overwhelming, many can’t remember the minutiae. They just remember the general gist of it. Some seem to have a stretchy rubber band upstairs and can recover from a stressor. For others, the rubber band breaks. Some of us sicko’s were really bent back in the 60s-70s and even signed up for a second tour.

 

Trick or Treat from the country that rhymed with ‘Mouse’

Anne’s shrink did a really bang up job and the VA recognized it. There was no way they were going to poke a hole in the bottom of this claim boat. That’s good. We don’t need a lot of VA theatrics and Kabuki theater shit. I think it took waaaay longer than it had to but then I’ve been radicalized. In fact it could be said I’ve weaponized the VBMS against the VA. Hey, if I call VA racist, we may even have a really good major media event. If I claim the VA is an existential threat to Veterans, we might even get National Coverage! I like all those newfangled progressive terms. Wish I’d known how this works in 1974.  It took 18 years just to get VA to admit concede I was even in Vietnam. Here’s a pic (above)of some of my BFFs and me all dressed up for Halloween 1970.  I dressed up  as  an armed French interpreter. Actually, my USAID ID announced my profession as French Teacher-a minor technicality.

Pages from Realiford Narrative 10-22-19

Anne and Rick will now have a far more financially secure future at a time when they could really use it. How cool is that? Here’s some great shots she sent me for this article. I don’t normally take PTSD cases because they are a real hand’s on project. This one, however, was ordained by God to be a success. Remember what the Crusaders used to yell when they charged  Muslim unbelievers? “Onwards for St. George! God sends the Right!”  I just pointed this thing in the right direction for her. Nothing more. It made a difference for that one.

Now if you’re motoring around wherever Del Rio, Tennessee is and you want some killer smoked pork or chicken, you make sure you give Anne’s store a shot. It’s called Annie’s Pork-and-Beans. You tell her and Ricky hi for me, hear?

starfish.JPG

 

Posted in 100% ratings, ASKNOD BOOK, Inspirational Veterans, MST, PTSD, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

PENILE RECONSTRUCTION

I love good jokes-especially if I can share them without causing discomfort to my following. This one, sent in by one of those eeeeeeeeeevil Long Range Recon Patrol types with a Silver Star makes the grade.

The doctor comes in and says, “Ah, I see you’ve regained consciousness, sir. Now, you probably won’t remember, but your Humvee ran over an IED outside Ishmir.  You’re going to be okay, you’ll walk again with prostheses and everything, however your penis was severed in the explosion and they couldn’t find it.”

The man groans, but the doctor goes on, “You have to be medically retired but the Army is going to give you a hefty MEB compensation  immediately with a VA comp. entitlement in the future and we now have the technology to build a new penis. They work great but they don’t come cheap. It’s roughly $10,000 an inch. You might elect to try to get the VA to do it later but I hear their work is a little shoddy. It’s best to do it as soon as possible in order to have a successful graft.”

The man perks up. So, the doctor says, “You must decide how many inches you want. But understand that you have been married for over 20 years and this is something you should discuss with your wife. If you had a five incher before and get a nine incher now she might be a bit put out. If you had a nine incher before and you decide to only invest in a five incher now, she might be disappointed. It’s important that she plays a role in helping you make such a momentous decision.”

The man agrees to talk it over with his wife. They have a long talk into the night with many disagreements.

The doctor comes back the next day, “So, did you discuss this with your wife?”

“Yes I have,” says the Major.

“Apparently, we’re getting a new Infiniti Q50.”

P.S. I just got an email from a member who was hoping it was a precedential panel decision about the aforementioned topic. He must not be acquainted with the fact I was born on April Fools day or else he’s not a Twitter subscriber.

Posted in Future Veterans, Humor, Inspirational Veterans, KP Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comp & Pen Exams: What You Need to Know

Throughout the course of your initial claim or appeal, the VA may order you to go to a Compensation & Pension (Comp & Pen) exam. The VA orders these exams to obtain an opinion about the cause and severity of your condition. These exams can be conducted either at the VA or by a contract examiner (a private company like LHI, VES, or QTC), and last anywhere between 10 minutes to multiple hours.

Getting a favorable opinion from a Comp & Pen exam is the key to your case! A favorable opinion (often called a positive “nexus”) can provide you with the medical evidence you need to service connect most claims.

Unsurprisingly, the VA usually falls short in providing an adequate exam. A lot of examiners fail to review your file, spend enough time with you to properly evaluate your symptoms, or make unfair assumptions about your medical history.

Here’s some things you need to know to maximize your chances of getting a positive nexus from any examiner:

Generally,
• The examiner will be observing you very closely, including your body language and tone of voice.
• Do not assume that the examiner has fully reviewed your claims file. It is your job to educate them on the cause and severity of your disabilities.
• Remember that “a closed mouth never gets fed,” or “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Be honest and detailed about what happened to you in service as well as your symptoms.

For mental health exams,
• When the examiner asks you “how are you doing,” that is a question about your current mental state! Do not say “fine” or “good” if that’s not the case.
• Be detailed about the in-service stressor that caused your mental health condition. Give dates, locations, people involved (if you remember the names), and the circumstances of the stressor.
• If applicable, be sure to emphasize that you were in good health prior to service, and that you’ve consistently had mental health symptoms since your in-service stressor.

For physical exams,
• Most physical exams involve the measurement of your joints’ range of motion. Make sure:
o You STOP immediately when the movement becomes painful. The point that you begin to feel pain is where the examiner should document the end of your range of motion.
• Be detailed about the specific in-service injury that caused your physical condition, or how your MOS caused your disability over time. Give dates, locations, and the circumstances of the injury.
• If applicable, be sure to emphasize that you were in good health prior to service, and that you’ve consistently had physical symptoms since your in-service injury.

After the exam, the examiner will draft a report that will be uploaded to your claims file. Be sure to get a copy of that report! Call the VA benefits hotline (800-827-1000) to request a mailed copy. Stay tuned for tips on attacking inadequate Comp & Pen exams – coming soon!

P.S. I would like to introduce my audience of Veterans to the author of the above article. Kelsey Craveiro Esq. will be one of our new contributing authors.  Ms. Craveiro is the Managing Veterans Disability Attorney at Rob Levine & Associates in Providence, New Jersey. Welcome aboard, Ms. Craveiro. 

Posted in C&P exams, Duty to Assist, Nexus Information, Tips and Tricks | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Les souvenirs de Viet-nam (1)

Sunday musings 

Sometimes things I order from Amazon, perhaps a T-shirt or a kitchen towel, are tagged “Made in Vietnam.”  Here we are, decades later, and only God knows how many humans were killed during the Vietnam War, and afterward.  All that pain, suffering and death, but hey, we can now buy cheap goods from Vietnam.

“What in the world should I buy as a souvenir?”

Travel magazines feature banal articles about the “best” cheap Made-in-Vietnam souvenirs tourists can buy.   Popular suggestions include conical “leaf” hats, hand fans, silk anything, ‘ao dai’ tunics, embroidery art, guoc moc wooden clogs, coffee, woven mats, lacquerware, tinware and ceramics.

My old Marine came home with a chess set, and a bunch of–at the time–mainly intangible illnesses and injuries.  The latter are the souvenirs he can’t throw way no matter how much we wish he could be rid of them.  When I read BVA claim decisions wherein a judge comments that, say, an older veteran wants to “blame” all of his/her ailments on their war experiences, I think “well–the vet could be correct.”  On the other hand, presenting a long list of ailments, even if correctly identified as service-connected, is not likely to be looked upon as reasonable by VA employees.  I suspect that only holistically, well-trained and smart military researchers, are capable of connecting all the dots.

How did some servicefolk spend their Sundays in Vietnam?

Shopping for deals? This artful photograph shows the important role chaplains play in the military.  What can explain this desolate landscape?  What happened here? 

I see sadness in the postures of the sitting men, a few not listening and one bold fellow staring straight at the camera.  I see symbols of civilization here among the debris: the chaplain’s stole, his bible verses, and even in his reading glasses.  In this setting, the mostly uncovered heads are probably as a sign of respect.

Entitled “Sermon on the Mount,” the image represents a yearning for peace amid war and a wish to go home alive.   A brilliant and touching spiritual image to appreciate on a fall Sunday afternoon.

by Laura (Kiedove-guest author)

“Sermon on the Mount” “Navy Lieutenant Commander, Frederick E. Whitaker, chaplain for the Third Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, holds religious services for leathernecks of “M” Co., on a mountainous ridgeline north of the Rockpile. The Leathernecks were participating in a battalion-size search and clear operation near the Demilitarized Zone.” In the collection of: The New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center, Saratoga, NY https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/about.htm

vietnam sermon back

Posted in All about Veterans, Food for the soul, Food for thought, Future Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, History, Uncategorized, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , | 3 Comments