I often wondered about this. Considering this site is not exactly pro-vA on any given decade, I wondered if the day would come when I found them camped out on the country road in and out of my neighborhood snapping pictures of my legendary goat and pony show.
Fortunately that hasn’t happened yet although I have had an inordinate amount of small aircraft and chopper traffic overhead. No, gentle readers, I am not suffering in the last throes of conspiracy fever-yet. Or wasn’t. Member JM sends us this interesting snippet about an Air Force Vet in Houston getting the VARO ham-handed “knock it off or we’ll make you wish you had” treatment. So, what gives? First, as a disclaimer, I would point out Not it! JM sent it to me! No. That’s pure humor. I shirk from nothing- least of all the opprobrium of the vA. I’ll be dead before they can make life Hell for me. And they can’t deny me my spot at Arlington National Cemetery either.
After what happened to Keith Roberts up in Michigan, I’ve watched my six somewhat more frequently while wondering why he got a four year staycation at the Graybar Hotel for his misstep. Obviously the vA does not take kindly to criticism. Few do but then the government is ostensibly precluded from reacting viciously to hateful diatribes.
As often as I have poked fun and misidentified Unter Secretary for Paychecks Allison A. Hickey as the Under Secretary for Karaoke and HR, etc. , I haven’t received any ill will or threats to renegotiate my Permanent and Total status. I attribute that to one thing and one thing only. Over the years, while reading BVA HCV decisions, I found a common thread. The vA is far more likely to give its combat Veterans a little more slack than they are their non-combatants. Whether they are candid about it is immaterial. I never asked for 1154(b) status but my filings for HCV and AO were unequivocal as to the GSW and the ensuing transfusion in a far from sanitary USAID “hospital” being the culprit.
In the newer theatres in Southwest Asia (Iraq and Afstan), virtually everyone is a moving target and “combat veteran” is almost a given for Vets who have endured three or more deployments. Getting blown up by an IED fifty miles behind your own lines can be called whatever the military chooses, but the physical repercussions are the same.
In the Southeast Asian Boundary Dispute of 1961 to 1975, the vA has chosen to be far more discerning and, in the process, disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Vets by a simple parsing of their MOS/AFSC. Anyone from the Vietnam conflict would know that a truck driver hauling goods from Saigon to Bien Hoa often got in some practice with his M-16 when he came under sniper fire even in the seventies after most of our combat troops were pulled out. Nevertheless, when filing for PTSD, absent any proof from the JSRRC, he is not going to prevail. It’s that simple. All the lay testimony in the world will not carry the day.
Doug Strand, the unfortunate “unclassified” combatant in this article, is going to suffer the same fate. The vA is of a mind that he is a small fry and thus the press will not feel compelled to accord him the same degree of sympathy. With this mentality, no Vet will be safe from recrimination by the vA. Unbeknownst to them, they have underestimated the power of Youtube. Now that his plight is coming to light, they feel threatened. I don’t know why. How their reputation can sink any lower after all they have done (or haven’t done) in the last sixty years since WW2 is not for conjecture. We speak of a backlog in terms of how long it takes to process a claim in 2012 as being unconscionable. Few would believe that I waited seven and one half months in 1994 for a rather simple claim denial for HCV/AO. Technically, they still haven’t finished it and that’s why I’m pounding on the CAVC’s door eighteen years later.
I suspect Mr. Strand will soon discover that vA will back down. Good PR, like a stellar reputation, is hard to come by. Conversely, negative press is like a bad penny and hounds you for a long time. When you’re already in the doghouse with Congress, the last thing you need is an eager, self-appointed Dudley Doright running amok at the Houston RO threatening to cut some Vet off the rolls for voicing his disapproval with the process. Were that the case, I’m long overdue for a Texas-style, down home Barbecue and Necktie Party with all the fixins’.
P.S. The family carving contest was held this afternoon. Princess ended up doing the kids’ and BJ did a magnificent monster. Cupcake went for Ghostbusters and I chose Win or Die. I’ll get the others for posting. We’ve come a long way, baby. Six months ago I planted the seeds for these gourds.