From the Hollywood Regional
Office in greater Los Angeles
Here’s one of those HCV claims that looks for all the world like it has legs. Vet serves in Vietnam as a medic, or, in the alternative as a hospital orderly. In any event, his risk factors appear legitimate. Johnny Vet applies for the Hep and is a little disingenuous and less than forthcoming when answering the Risk Factors Questionnaire (RFQ). In fact, he studiously avoided answering it completely. Which is okay with the VA because he’s already spilled the beans on his proclivity to use drugs way back thirteen months earlier. Just because he quit 25 years ago and leads a model life now does not a successful claim make. What’s more, offering no logical explanation for your lapse of good judgement leaves the door open to VA to supply the answers.
Having a soupçon of medical knowledge can be anathema to your claim, too. Johnboy apparently was unaware that HCV did not become a brand-name disease until 1989 and reach official recognized status by 1992. Thus, claiming you were diagnosed with it in 1970 can be a real dealbreaker when the subject of credibility comes up.
The Board has considered the Veteran’s statement that he was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1970. As set forth, there is no objective evidence of liver problems during service or for many years thereafter. The Veteran underwent a physical examination in May 1972 in connection with his Reserve service. At that time, he specifically denied having jaundice or hepatitis. Thus, the Board finds the Veteran’s report regarding the date of diagnosis to be inconsistent with other evidence and not credible.
Johnny Vet has many deficiencies in his claim but the willful misconduct via the intravenous drug use undoubtedly worked against him. Additionally, when asking for a combat exemption under 38 USC §1154(b), it helps if you have a medal or two that proves you were in the fray. Alas, Johnny comes up short on this one as well.
Initially, the Board notes the Veteran’s reports of combat participation. Personnel records show that the Veteran was a hospital man and was assigned to the U.S. Naval Support Activity, Danang, Vietnam. The Veteran did not receive any awards or decorations establishing combat participation. The Board has considered the Veteran’s April 2009 statement discussing his Vietnam service, to include working at a military hospital and a security base. The overall evidence, however, is against finding that the Veteran engaged in combat with the enemy. 38 U.S.C.A. § 1154(b) (West 2002) is not for application.
To really put a fork in it all, our “hospital man”, under the able guidance of the Disabled American Veterans, has arrived (as usual) with no supporting nexus letter or Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) that could possibly support his contentions that he had exposure to blood or blood products. In sum, he arrives with little more than lay testimony that paints an admirable picture of a combat medical person with a debilitating disease caused by his MOS. As most of us know from experience, this rarely carries the day.
Evidence is king in this game. Lay testimony, in conjunction with facts and documented service records, is the repair order. I have no doubt this Vet could have won if he’d developed the case more completely but that is ostensibly why we go to the VSO experts. Here at Asknod we have demonstrated that negative evidence and “Imperial entanglements” are not the death knell to a HCV claim. Proper development in a logical progression with careful management of evidence introduced most often is the panacea. However, arriving at the Board of Veterans Appeals with a saddlebag full of nothing more than contentions won’t even get you in the door. Arriving with no nexus when it is a legal requirement further enunciates the reason we advocate you simply do it yourself and get it right the first time. Each failure makes it more and more insurmountable the next time out as all too many of you have discovered.
AIH opens a whole new conundrum with the massive number of Hepatitis B immunizations given by the VA and the military. Maybe lab rats don’t have all the answers?
AIH, to me, elicits a desire to have the VA investigate AO more thoroughly. They plan to shut down that avenue in 2016. Most of us are already dead and the 850, 000 left are too sick to mount a decent offence.
At least he went to Viet Nam! Liver disease is mostly asymptomatic with simple blood panel. Most people only discover they have liver ascites from a abdominal ultra-sound or MRI. Many physicians and lab techs couldn’t find their backside in a snow storm better yet to track the progress of liver disease on a recurrent basis from year to year of a patient. Hope you don’t require a liver transplant anytime soon. Some think that liver disease runs concurrent with type II diabetes and all the toxicity with oral diabetes pills. Did anyone ever read the MSDS sheets for Agent Orange, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene and other hazmat exposure of presumptive service connection and include them in your claims statement?
>Simply serving in Vietnam only means you have a 66% higher chance of having it compared to a civilian in the same age genre. It’s not presumptive.
>Actually, most find out they have it late in life when they have a 60 year physical and can’t explain that run down feeling.
>As for doctors, VA doctors could care less unless you’re visibly icteric. Lab techs can read AST/ALT and figure it out. They just can’t make the doctor read it.
>No liver transplant for me, James. My AIH rules that out.
>Exhaustive DM2 studies noted the marked correlation to HCV as well as Ifn txment in the late 90s. The onset of the DM2 manifests when you hit Stage 2 usually.
>As for all the rainbow defoliants, it stands to reason you’ll find all manner of petroleum distillates in them. After all, it was mixed 1:1 with whatever was at hand- i.e. diesel, fusel oil, etc. You could feel the oiliness on your skin afterwards and smell it in the air.