Here’s a classic that looked like it was heading for the willful misconduct waterfalls. Lo and behold, a true example of a “Benefit of the Doubt ” dance ensued and the Vet wins. I will note that this often happens when a Veterans is given the 1154(b) combat enhancement consideration. Here it proved invaluable in carrying the day.
All the tea in China and an armload of tattoos will not guarantee a win at the RO. These things are very, very rarely decided there. They almost always end up at the BVA. Here, it was because of the innuendos of drug abuse which, you will note, take up all of one sentence and are never mentioned again. This leads us to believe it was one of those fanciful insertions into the VISTA files as in…
VA nurse: ” Sir, are you taking any other prescribed medications or supplements?”
Vet: ” Yes, I take Vicodin as needed for my back pain and Geritol”.
You then read in your records years later: “Vet admits to using prescription-strength pain medications frequently”. You notice they have now dropped the word “prescribed” and it now is a bald admission of drug abuse. Don’t laugh. You have no idea how many Vets have gone down this road. On our Delphi Boards there is a Vet who has returned frequently over the last five years who goes by Codestar 7. He constantly relives yesterday and refuses to reopen his claims for HCV and residuals of IFN treatment. He bemoans a negative reference to drugs in his records as well. My advice is to ignore it and keep moving. One admission in the records erroneously inserted can be corrected. A UCMJ rap sheet that runs on to two pages will be an issue.
More importantly, the Vet kept his story straight and had the combat 38 USC 1154(b) enhancement. Everyone loves a hero. A Purple Heart and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge do not come out of a Cracker Jacks Box. Well, unless your name is John Kerry and you spend a lot of time shooting M-79’s into stumps to “see what it’s got” they don’t.
Learning how to win is not nearly as difficult when someone bothers to explain the rules to you. VA doesn’t, never has and I doubt they ever will get a bad case of remorse and change their ways. DAV’s logo is on this but I suspect the Vet has much to do with the win. Considering its from Houston, I’m surprised the Texas (White Hat) Veterans Commission doesn’t have their fingerprints all over it.