I know there are many of you who will eventually file claims with the vA who are reading this. I always ask Vets I help to do the mirror test. That is, look in the mirror and tell yourself that what you are filing for is predicated on sound science and that you, yourself, believe it is true. Not merely plausible, mind you. I mean true as in you sincerely believe that what you are preparing to do battle over is the reason for your ills.
I have had guys show up and say “Gee. I have DM2 and I was in Nam. I get the presumptive so please show me how to file. ” Others come to me and say “I got blasted with a jetgun and that’s how I got HCV.” To the former, who are sometimes grossly obese, I ask them to do the mirror test and if they still believe it, to file. Some see my point and don’t file. I’d still help you one way or another regardless if you were a 400 lb. door stop or a reformed junkie. My job is not to be judgmental but to be a friendly ear and a font of information on what is decidedly a slippery judicial slope.
Which brings us to George P. Cadoret and his brush with military service. George enlisted in the Air Force in March 1977. His entrance physical in January of 77 indicated he had some “mental” issues the summer before that appeared to have been resolved. Upon arrival at Lackland AFB, the AF medical examiner voiced some misgivings about his suitability for service but he was overruled. Eleven days later, on March 19, 1977, George was admitted for emergency medical treatment after he was restrained for vandalizing a candy machine and reported that he had been talking to God. This is so judgmental. God could reasonably be assumed to hang out around or inside candy machines and for the AF to rule otherwise shows their religious inflexibility, not to mention insensitivity.
George was diagnosed with schizophrenia plus a bunch of other Klingon medical issues and the AF decided it was time to part ways. Mr. Cadoret surmised that the reason he was now in this schizophrenic state had everything to do with the vast amount of stress associated with Basic Training and candy machines. He promptly filed for compensation at his local RO in August. vA just as promptly denied his claim in the same month. No backlog issues then, that’s for sure.
In March 1997 the Georgester refiled for the same issue as a reopening of the old claim. His RO, still backlog-free, denied again three months later in May. Things started to slow down when he appealed and he got little traction until October 2003 when the Board remanded it back to his RO for more testing to see if it was due to that horrific Basic Training experience. Bummer, huh? Things were going along so smoothly and then wham!- a 5 year delay in getting a docket and justice.
As an aside, I will say that I went through the rigors of Lackland in October 1969 and training instructors were often in the habit of engaging in wall to wall counseling of new recruits where there was some question of who was in charge. We were encouraged to watch, too. When the stripes came off, we were all equal. That practice ceased shortly after I left so I doubt George was the recipient of any extracurricular counseling in 1977.
George was measured for his new , highly accessorized jacket in November of 2004. The vA examiner opined that the schizophrenia, now undebatable, increased in severity during his eleven-day whirlwind basic experience but that it was indubitably due to the natural progression of the disease. In other words, George had many problems before arriving in San Antonio but his new-found ability to communicate with God in the presence of Peter Paul and Almond Joy had no bearing on it. Unfortunately, the vA examiner forgot to mention that one thing needed to nail the coffin shut- the mention of reviewing the C-file. Always remember, Vets, they cannot call it a “probative” analysis of the evidence if they don’t mention that they looked at the whole record. That’s the ploy used to eviscerate your nexus letters.
In order to waste more time and money, the BVA remanded yet again for another bent brain report. They enlisted a Dr. Avery Lawrence who had reviewed the matter in 2002 and yet again in Sept 2005. He initially indicated he, too had not reviewed the file, but felt nobody could get that twisted in eleven days. Somebody noticed the discrepency and he had to go back in and “modify” the record to make it legally sufficient to deny Georgie several months later in March 2006.
Finally, after a year of ping pong, the case made it back to D.C. and the Board put the fork in it October 2006. I think we can safely say that the beginnings of what we call the current backlog were coming into play during this claim. Mr. Cadoret was given summary justice in both 1977 and 1997 in a timely fashion. During the course of his appeal, the wheels of justice began to slow down. He now had 9 years into his appeal. Granted, the claim had no legs, but that ordinarily should have given it wings rather than a boat anchor.
The CAVC, in February 2008, granted a JMR for George to have another bite of this rotten apple. Surprise! Another denial in January 2009 and here he was in D.C. again. The Court, in a single judge decision, summarized what everyone but George had figured out. God was addressing the guy behind him in line to buy candy and he just happened to overhear to conversation. All the shrinks who had interviewed him were right. He was toast before he arrive in San Antonio and he still was. Eleven days does not a psychosis make.
This all occurred March 4th, 2011. Judge Mary Schoelen is a pro-Vet judge. Her father was Reg AF. If there had been one redeeming smidgen of evidence in his favor, Mr. Cadoret would have gotten a bye and a remand. The fact that he was as loony as the Tasmanian devil of cartoon fame was patently evident. End of story? Negatory. I spotted Mr. Cadoret’s Federal Circuit hearing on VLL yesterday. It appears this saga isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Listen to George’s sad tale of woe here.
To view his travails since 1977 in detail, click this. A word to the wise. The CAVC seems to take great pleasure in shuffling single judge decisions around in such a way that they all get link rot in a day or two. If this happens, the repair order is simple:
Go here: http://www.uscourts.cavc.gov/
Look down the left side to “Case information” Put your pointer on it and choose “Decision and Opinions”
Click on “Search the ISYS system for decisions and opinions.”
Enter Cadoret v. Shinseki and click on search.
Only one decision comes up under that one and you can view it there. To do so normally, click on the blue “Download” in the upper left and it will convert it to old growth format which is easier to read and more tree-friendly. You can do this for any Court decision all the way back to the dawn of time and it is easy to use.
So, once again, if you were wondering why there’s a backlog, don’t blame it on the vA. It’s obvious from frivolous filings like this tying the Court’s hands, that we find ourselves in this sticky wicket. While every dog must have it’s day, it appears the tail is now wagging same.