I always admire Vets for going it alone. Here, Mr. Kenneth L. Morris has chosen to go all the way up the ladder to the CAVC for justice. The problem is that his grasp of law is deficient. When we assay to defend ourselves it is a given that we have all the proper documents and diseases before proceeding. Mr. Morris lacks the latter to the detriment of his claim as we shall see.
Mr. Morris and I share something in common. We both had hepatitis at the same time albeit in two different places. His was in-country and mine wasn’t. I was up -country at the time. I will leave that to your imagination as to where. Mr. Morris was also very sick as was I. This was usually an indicator of HBV rather than HAV but there was no way to conclusively identify it until 1972 and the advent of the Australian Antigens test. This test conclusively determined if it was HBV. If it was negative, medical honchos surmised it was A. This was before the advent of any tests for HCV but that is not what Mr. Morris complains of.
Mr. Morris was so ill they air-evac’d him to Camp Zama back in Japan. From there it was back to the States for additional treatment and a discharge. This was abnormal for someone to be sent back. Most, like me, recuperated and were back in the field in 6 weeks. Mr. Morris went on about his merry ways and nothing more was heard from him until he filed for the hepatitis, hypertension, heart disease and PTSD. Some were denied and others were still in development when this came to the Court. As such, the Court will only deal with the issues which are appealed from below.
Mr. Morris complains that the hep has ruined his life but he doesn’t actually say how. HAV and HBV are different from HCV. The former are not considered chronic although HBV can be if the individual has autoimmune deficiencies that prevent the body from successfully conquering it. This is not the case here. Mr. Morris has no antibodies present that would indicate an ongoing chronic infection of any sort. Merely having a disease in service does not automatically allow for claiming it afterwards. Certainly there are exceptions, such as mine where the doctor felt coinfection of both HBV and HCV occured at the same time. Kenbo has no such problems and that is why his claim fails. I won’t go into the hypertension because that is not an issue I am conversant with.
The teaching moment is rather simple. Three things are required to file and win a claim. A disease in service or a risk for same, a current chronic infection of the same, and a nexus letter tying the two to each other and service are prerequisites for this. The VA was honest on this rare occasion and fully well admitted he had HBV in 1971. What they argued was that Kenny didn’t have it now. As for his argument that they didn’t bother to find a Camp Zama hospital orderly (Larry Knight) who was there in 1971 is immaterial. Trying to claim a due process violation for an acute disease process is like peeing into the wind. You gain nothing. Mr. Morris has learned a valuable legal lesson and consumed much in the way of legal resources which are in high demand by other Vets. While I will not raise the “selfish” argument, I will point out he should have done his homework on the disease process before pushing “print”. This information is available to all on the internet so it cannot be said that he had no avenue to scientific tomes on the subject.
Mr. Kenneth L. Morris’ unavailing argument for HBV SC:
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