This is both humorous and bittersweet. In 2008, one of our members approached me with a problem. I instantly identified with Krazyhorse (John) as we share the same birthdate. Even more amazing was that his parents ancestral property in upstate New York abutted a fellow’s named Max Yazgur. When I graduated from a private boarding school in Vermont in 1969, the talk of the summer was to attend a Music and Arts festival at Mr. Yazgur’s farm. It would later come to be known as Woodstock. I still have my ticket. We parked and hiked in 5 miles but the fence was down when we arrived and there was no one to take it. John was only eleven and his parents wouldn’t let him attend. Smart move, Mr. And Mrs. B.
Fast forward to 2008. John contacted me about his claim and told me the ugly particulars. He was one of the first to be diagnosed in service with documented Non A, Non B Hep. He was given a medical and a 10% pat on the back along with his General Discharge. He endured this and got sicker over the years. By 2008, he was in a bad way. He hadn’t lost his sense of humor though. He lived in Rockport,Texas and had to deal with a very recalcitrant Houston VARO. One would think it would be a piece of cake getting an increase when you were swelling up with ascites and spider angiomas. This was definitely a “Houston. We have a problem” moment. Houston didn’t feel that way so John was picking my brain for ideas. We had just gotten the AskNod site up and I was giving him advice that I hadn’t even had a chance to publish. He went to work and got everything he needed from his doctors and burned it all onto a CD. He had everything color tabbed and cross referenced to aid the rater. I went into the hospital in April of 09 and went on the Dilaudid diet- Hear no pain. See no pain. Feel no pain. I managed to stay sane enough to be his touchstone on this and we had many a laugh about the foibles of the VA and his travails. I escaped in June, went back, escaped in August, went back and finally was discharged for good about Thanksgiving. He hit the jackpot around Halloween and I was overjoyed. VA had stubbed their toe and screwed up a request for an increase in 93. It was still pending when he refiled. He wasn’t my first success, but he was the first I had guided to a 200% rating and a major six-figure check for everything but the kitchen sink. He was also the first Vet I had met who got 100% for DC 7312 and was still vertical and capable of talking about it. Most people with advanced cirrhosis and a barely compensated liver are not good conversationalists. They have major brain disorders due to all that ammonia building up in them.
So wonder of wonders when a week after he got the magic papers, the VFW calls him. Yes, gentle reader, that would be his Veterans Service Officer- the same one who ignored his calls, made appointments he never intended to keep and was generally AWOL throughout his claims process. Apparently Bobbie-Joe wanted to come over with the VFW photographer for a glad hand and an 8 1/2 x 11 photograph for the Trophy Wall. Or, in the alternative to the Prize Patrol, he could come on down and they’d take his picture with the Congressman who never returned his calls either. Opportunities like these do not come along every day. Nevertheless John begged off saying he wasn’t a Prize Patrol kind of guy. He had to share this with me about a minute after Bobbie-Joe hung up and I now have discovered that this is common practice. I’m referring to the Photo op, not the habit of ignoring you once they have your POA. That’s been SOP for decades. Jez, I’m not that dumb.
John passed on Mother’s day this year awaiting a liver transplant. His mother called to tell me. He had moved back at the end to be near them on the farm behind Max’s. He leaves behind two lovely daughters and some grandchildren. I keep his memory alive now by refusing to erase his number from my cel phone speed dial. Even though it would be futile, I’m tempted to call him sometimes.