I have two rules.
Rule #1- I am here to win my claim
Rule #2- If denied, refer back to Rule #1
I was at the VAMC in American Lake last week and saw a young Army soldier with the newer headgear. By that, I mean the black beret. I thought to myself that the fashionistas had finally infiltrated the military and were now in charge of Wardrobe. Let me say this about that (this was one of John F. Kennedy’s favorite phrases).
The Army, or any branch of military does nothing, if not for a reason. They are a staid and long suffering bunch with much history. The green baseball cap has been the standard fatigue headgear for more than half a century. I remember well the inception of the Green Berets at Ft. Bragg in the early 60’s. My father was the 4th Wing commander at Seymour Johnson AFB so I went over with him on weekends to hunt doves and watch them field test the new AR-15/M-16. They were also doing acceptance trials on the M-60. We occasionally saw some of the new “Special Forces” as they were known at the PX there. Nobody ever called them Green Berets. The Beret was a symbol of achievement like no other at that time. A SF team could land in hostile country, had the power to set up a new government, take care of medical needs and much more. They could organize and arm a private army within 90 days and make them into a credible force. They were a country unto themselves. They didn’t take protein pills and put helmets on because they didn’t need them.
Their fellow soldiers realized these guys were way past Rangers. Their authority to do as they pleased was legendary. With that kind of glory, normal soldiers probably have yearned to wear one over the years. John Wayne might have glorified them and Sgt. Barry Sadler sang about them, but nothing prepared you for what they could accomplish back then.
What has changed is the fashionistas trying to infuse that je ne sais quoi into the rank and file troops. While a pay raise would have been more on point, the black beret was cheaper. Corporal Joe Blow, clerk typist/apprentice administrator now walks tall with his new headgear. He can feel proud that everyone will now view him as “warrior”.
I used to watch the WHITE STAR teams lift off in AirAm H-34s from Long Tieng in the fall of 1970 and had no desire to be one. You can keep the mosquito bites, the leeches and the Malaysian pith vipers, thank you. I’ll take a cockpit at 1000 feet and triple A. A Chivas Regal over imaginary ice at 1730 was warrior enough for me . Anything less was just uncivilized.
Special Forces were very unassuming and quiet. They didn’t brag. They couldn’t-because it was classified. As an analogy, these are what I see as the perfect attributes for winning a VA claim. Focus. Purpose. Agenda. A take no prisoners approach. My way or the highway. Promises were made and gifts were exchanged. Now its payback time. You broke me, now fix me and be quick about it.
By coming to this site, Veterans are choosing to win a claim, not file and pray. An aggressive approach based entirely on offense is the attitude you have to embrace. For too many years VSOs have infused Veterans with the idea that if they piss off the VA, their claim will be sent to the bottom of the in-basket or denied outright. Similarly, they convinced several generations that the only path to a grant was through their front door.
If you are not daring and innovative, choosing the black beret may be the best option. If you are inherently disinclined to be proactive and loathe to learn how to fight and win, you’ll find yourself in good company with a National VSO outfit. They are certainly set up to accomplish this for you. Your odds of winning are diminished, but it will cost you nothing in time and effort. It is the most painless way to attempt it.
This may surprise you but I find most who I assist in this are not what I call “Union” types. Most are self-starters, businessmen, and many who owned their own companies. For them there is no team in “I”. This is the quintessential one on one knife-fight in a dark alley. It may be why your success rate is so high in this. 28-2 in the Vet’s favor certainly says something about the technique I advocate.
Veterans who are willing and eager to kick ass and take names cannot wait for the normal flow of life. Type A Vets tend to be do it yourselfers and have no patience for a slow measured approach. This is what I have seen in virtually every one of you who have come here and asked for my help. Seek answers- don’t wait to be told them. A well-coordinated attack is infinitely preferable to a static defense that never moves. Know your enemy above all else.
I suspect most of you have the fire in your belly or you’d be sitting in a waiting room reading last year’s copy of Outdoor Life patiently in line to talk to your S.O. I would also bet you are proactive and know a shit ton about this disease you’re fighting to win. If you don’t, you had better start googling it and get well-versed in it. You do yourself and your doctor a disservice by your ignorance. Expecting him to be Dr. Knowitall is dangerous. I would hope you have a 50-50 hands on with him and there is some quid pro quo between you. My doctor almost killed me. Let me rephrase that. Several doctors have almost killed me in the last four years. Do what President Reagan advocated; Trust, but verify. The Internet has all you need to know about this bug to make informed choices on treatment. I sure don’t need to add my voice to it.
Learn what you need to know legally here. I have one setting which is win. A denial must be view as being temporarily put on hold. A Dear John letter from VA should be a wake up call to see what you did wrong. An aggressive claimant will get these. I have. The trick is to view it as almost expected and keep your sights on the goal. VA can be worn down as we see. They deny in hopes you will give up. They plan their financial budgets around the fact that 85% will go home, complain, pop a top and turn on the TV.
Only one thing to win is left and that is the nexus letter. We have that covered six ways to Sunday like VA. Dr. Cecil is our “VA Examiner ” who can supply that. Because ex parte justice travels at the speed of growing grass, you have plenty of time to ask questions and hear from others here on how to do the ass kicking.
I really don’t mean this as some kind of Pep Talk, nor do I mean to denigrate the wearing of the black beret. We can’t all be SFs or have tiger blood in our DNA like Charlie. What we can do is avoid being sheeple around the VARO. I would think that if anyone could piss off the VA, I sure would have done it by now. Hell, I’m the Poster Child for that. Adding my Independent Living Program requests in on top of appealing everything I’ve ever filed for is not going to win friends or influence raters at the RO. If it was going to get me in some kind of trouble, I doubt they would have granted it all.
Whatever you do, don’t get mad. Get dissatisfied and fight for what is yours. Anger generates a lot of hot air and causes Global Warming. We don’t want that.