It is with great pleasure we announce the entrance of Hepsick, my old friend Mark, through the gates of Eden. Mark started on this odyssey back in 2008 before I got sick and went into the hospital.
Mark had it made in the shade, sort of. He had a bodacious picture of himself out in front of his barracks in khakis with his sleeve pulled back sporting a brand new tattoo- with a friend in khakis too. They were obviously at the early stages of training as they were what we used to call Pings. Ping was sound of new hair growing back on an otherwise shaved, bald skull.
Mark also had a few encounters of the Feminine kind with questionable ladies du noir once on a weekend romp to Italy. He would prefer to forget it but chances are it was another major, recognized risk in this business. Well, recognized by everyone at the CDC, NIH and about five other alphabet science research facilities.
VA, as most know, will say it happened either before or after service. Unless you show up with the magic paper from Dr. Bubba, VA will always pooh-pooh it as being statistically impossible even if you had 20 partners. Throw in the tattoo and you’d think it was a gimme. Not so fast. No magic paper-no compensation.
Mark was not well-heeled and Dr. Bash was out of his price window. In fact, Mark was having a hard time figuring out how to eat and put a roof over his head. About that time he lost his first battle with them in spite of us pointing out the obvious in the records. Unfortunately, Mark’s tattoo did not show up in his exit papers. You’d think the photo would take care of that. Not. You don’t know the Oakland VARO . Ulrike and the gang weren’t letting any HCV through there-period- back in 2008. And then I got really, really really ill. And went to the VAMC and so on.
When I escaped the Seattle VAMC in between infections for a week, I’d try to help Mark but I was past sick. I had a five-port PICC line in my neck and they were all being used. I blew up the picture from one of those small 3X3 polaroids. Cupcake touched it up, recolorized it and sharpened the image. When she was done, you could recognize Mark easily. VA couldn’t. STDs were not diagnosed as the cause of the HCV so they remained an interesting fact in the Service Medical Records. Since Mark wasn’t a doctor, he couldn’t point out that this was a known risk factor on no less than VA’s very own Risk Factors Questionnaire (RFQ) that we all filled out. Since the tattoo was not listed in the SF 88 exit physical, Mark was just lying about it. Anybody could dress up and sneak back on to an Army Base twenty five years later to fake a photo. Vets do that all the time. 85% of them to be exact. VA has documented the phenomenon and has the statistics to prove it.
So imagine my surprise to find a missive from him this AM on my “Email ASKNOD” comments section telling me he’s inside the wire.
Hay Bro, We won my appeal, rating 20%, sent in letter of Disagreement, got back question do I want to participate in the Decision Review program ? yes or No ? What should I do?
I don’t know if you fellow readers can know what that means to me every time it happens. I get this stupid wet eye disease for about five minutes. Then I thank the RVSR , VLJ or whoever finally got their head out of their posterior and quit using their belly for a porthole. Mark makes number thirty three. He’s the oldest of my cases who wasn’t there yet. VA made his life miserable for many years- almost six now. Imagine where he’d be without the STDs or that picture. Life turns on a dime. A chance photo in 80 of a brand new tattoo changed his future. A medical entry that confirmed an indiscretion with consequences. Evidence, ladies and gentlemen Vets.
Evidence is the key to all this. Lay testimony, as long as it can be semi-verified, is marginal. A buddy statement is simply an opportunity for the VA to insult two Vets for the price of one in most cases. We have encountered the old saw from a VA examiner in 2008 that no one could possibly remember that far back. Needless to say, member Tom won because Reuben’s DD 214 luckily said “Served on USS Long Beach CGN-9. 1968-1969.”
Well, that and the fact that his (Tom’s) Mexican jumping-bean tattoo kept leaping from shoulder to shoulder according to the VA. Once the VLJ was able to view it, everything changed. Reuben wasn’t lying. Neither was Tom. VA never apologized for the insult.
Evidence is often all we have. Some small inconsequential turn of events will prove fruitful. Getting VA to recognize it seems to be the hurtle. Mark succeeded where many have failed. I commend him for not giving up. To be honest, since I had not heard from him in so long I feared he had. I had that same foreboding about Cleotis but he, too, won at the BVA last year. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a marvelous year to be a Vet and have Hep, huh?
Well, not exactly.
I emailed him back and asked him if he might be induced to share the magic papers with us so we could see VA finally cave in. That’s almost as fun as watching an Inauguration Day parade.
Even the smallest win is still a win but the problem is with the overtime. Glad to hear that you won.
Yea I didn’t check the box for scars marks and tattoos on my ETS physical paperwork. Little did I know it would matter 40 years later. Congratulations on a win and not dying while playing the hurry up and wait game. Sure wish I had a picture of my tattoo to shove up their collective flowing robes. I am still looking…
NICE, Ya its been a Long Strange Trip, someone is looking out for me up there and you down here, MR NOD is the MAN, NEVER GIVE UP, in fact I am starting to Enjoy the fight, We served our Country only to get crapped on by the VA,I have come to the conclusion they want us Dead, well when Im done with this body They can have it Until then, Pay me VA, and all of my Brothers that served.
We are very happy that you stuck with it. Keep us posted! We need the inspiration.
Congratulations sailor! Your marathon race is over with! Now comes the marble game with the lowball ratings. The waiting is the worst. The blatant lies and denials are almost as bad as the wait. It’s like how long can you tread water! Way to go! 🙂
I will be sending MR NOD my case so everybody can see THE MAN kicking some VA Gatekeepers,We Win by sticking together as a Unit as a force to be reckoned with, Hang in there all My Brothers, Thanks Squidly.