Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach him to fish and you feed him for life.
I don’t know who said this. It isn’t germane to my discussion here. The thought is, though. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of lunch with one of our members and his wife. As we are few and far between, this occurs rarely. In fact, this is only the second time it has occurred. “Members” of HCVets are a loose, unaligned bunch. Due to this disease process, we have an ugly habit of passing away before we have an opportunity to develop long-term relationships with one another, too.
Peter (Menalteed) and his charming wife traveled a great distance to buy my wife and me lunch, as I said. He is the epitome of perseverance. I have had several members tell me via the internet that they followed my prescription for pursuing their claims and it worked. Peter was no different. He actually read everything I had posted here and followed the program to a “t”. The payoff is vindication for all of us who aspire to help others. Nothing brings me greater joy than helping one of you attain that which is rightfully yours. The fact that the VA erects such an impenetrable barrier to service connection is no accident. They have limited assets and loads of time. Finding a path through this jungle seems to be the problem.
Recently Peter and WGM (Bill) succeeded in accomplishing this at the VARO level without having to appeal to D.C. This doesn’t mean that the VA has changed its modus operandi. It reflects a dogged, intense preparation which caught their respective VARO examiners off guard and compelled them to throw in the towel. They are not accustomed to Vets arriving with this kind of evidence and the requisite letters connecting their diseases to service. VSOs seem to overlook this little requirement on a regular basis. Peter did this all by himself and he’s 68. In addition, he’s stage 4 on his second liver and undergoing chemotherapy. Look no farther than Miriam Webster’s seminal tome on the English vocabulary under “perseverance”. There undoubtedly will be a picture of him under the word. This gentleman, with astute assistance from his wife (who is a nurse), assembled a bulletproof claim for cirrhosis, HCV and a host of secondaries including DM2 and coronary artery disease. He has now won them all. Having a sawbones in your corner is a prerequisite but the impetus required to pull all this off when you are knocking at death’s door is stupefying.
I have often cajoled Vets into greater efforts to win when it seems they have hit the wall. Peter, on the other hand, did virtually all this with little or no input from me. He simply read what I posted and acted on it. It is one thing to advocate a path of attack, propose backup measures and assemble evidence you think you will never need. Likewise, when denied, some lose hope or become despondent. Peter exhibited none of these mental maladies. He simply soldiered on and put one foot in front of the other. The results will stand his wife in good stead when he is gone vis a vis DIC. By covering every possible contingency, VA will not be able to try their sleight of hand tricks and say “Well, that’s all well and fine that he was connected for the HCV/cirrhosis, but our esteemed experts have determined he died from a heart condition”. Fine. Let them say that. Peter has covered that base so it is a moot point. In fact, Peter has covered a plethora of bases. The word “checkmate” comes to mind. VA is going to have writer’s cramp before they finish penning all his ratings. I strongly suspect he will have somewhere in excess of 180% in ratings- more than enough to qualify for the SMC “S” he so richly deserves.
You have to ask, of course- what was the risk factor? Hold on to your hats. Jetguns. With nothing more than several pounds of medical literature, a buddy letter from a fellow recruit about the sanitary practices of pecker checkers and several nexus letters, VARO Seattle examiners granted his claim with little more than a whimper. They did send out for a QTC IMO on whether all the secondaries he filed for were legitimate. They were-and QTC said as much in VAspeak.
If you Vets out there keep this up, I won’t have any time to write funny posts like Agent B and the new Libyan medal. I consider that grossly unfair. All my time will be consumed writing congratulatory letters to successful Vets on their prowess at bearding the VA lion in his own den. Where does that leave me? Well, there is the danger of obesity. With Vets showing their appreciation by buying me meals at fine restaurants, I endanger my own health. Damn it, I say. It pains me to think I must set aside my concerns over my health for the greater good of helping all of you. You task me, ladies and gentlemen. Your success(es) are earned. Providing you with the assets to do so is less than half the battle. Peter is ample proof of that.