The email that prompts this is tempered by the magnificent game I watched yesterday. Having been raised in Seahawks since their inception in 1976, I have been captive of their dismal performances over the years. Nevertheless, I always kept faith with them. Yesterday simply confirmed what we all come to realize about life and our commitment to our morals-never say die. Not even if it takes thirty eight years. Having just put twenty years of the VA process under my belt, I see a strong parallel. Which brings me to the email.
Juanita asks “What is all this about ‘Win or Die’. I keep reading references to it but no how-to to employ it. Is it some kind of inside joke or just a tag line to sell your book?” Valid points that bear an explanation, Juanita. I apologize.
In honor of you, Juanita, I will name my next book ‘Win Or Die’. Allow me to tell you of the wondrous Win or Die logo and it’s meanings. It was born in the early days of 1978. We held yearly soapbox derby-type competitions in what was known at Pike Place Alley in front of the actual Market before being drunk in public fell out of style. This is in downtown Seattle up towards the north end above Elliot Bay. You may have seen pictures of fishmongers throwing around 25 lb. King Salmon in June.
ETOH was a prerequisite and the prime lubricant of this festivity. My company’s entry (Midnight Electric and Plumbing Co. or MEPCO) was an all-black, all-metal child’s type car from the fifties. It was probably a fire engine at one time with the little ladders on the side and the little push pedals down inside with the Geneva gear. Sub-par steering rounded out the product. And sub-par steering was our downfall that year compounded by downing far too much Tanqueray. Tango does, however, mask the pain of lacerations. But wait. There’s more. Amazing for morale and good for sterilizing deep lacerations, too.
Ours still had the bell but was sans ladders. It was also sans the rubber on the right rear tire but did not seem to impair steering. Since the whole thing was 50 yards downhill to the right, it really didn’t appear to be a traction issue– on paper. You’ll notice the metal poles in the picture above. Newtonian physics refers to them as immovable objects as we came to find out.
The vehicle was prepped, painted flat black and our welder Roger had beefed it up with some Ben Hur spurs on the sides to impale any competitors who messed with us. And the logo was chosen by the wife of Bubba. She was the artist and worked for some outfit that did commercial art. Being free, she won the contract and we all agreed she was the best. We had no idea how good she was. When we saw the logo we immediately upgraded to a high gloss black over the primer. This was a class act. The logo was assiduously transferred to the hood. Off with the Bell. Get out the bondo. And this, Juanita, was what Ruth came up with. We had t-shirts made and ended up having to make dozens more for Race Day.
Given a narrow mandate in keeping with liquor, guns, violence, single malt Scotch and victory, she unveiled her masterpiece. It took her two weeks but will be remembered forever.
Now, in its new iteration as an aid to VA claims, I bring the same intensity to prosecuting them- without the liquor and guns, of course. It’s not some cute catch phrase. It is not a verbal hook. It means, quite simply, that in order to win your claims, you have to be prepared to begin early. You have to be prepared to wait interminable months and years. Your patience and fortitude must surpass that of Job himself. If you are not in this to win, you shouldn’t even throw down. Since an inordinate number of us were stupid and didn’t begin until we were much older and discovered the problem, many of us die in the process of waiting.
Win or Die is a mindset. It is the fabric of desperation. It’s forged in the same oven of commitment you enjoyed in the military. Many who begin early on, accomplish much and have the rest of their lives to enjoy. Many who wait suffer financial hardship and ruin with a good number dying while still waiting. Currently, 53 Veterans a day pass away with unadjudicated claims and appeals. Win or Die is an inducement to take control of your claim yourself. Treat it like an automobile fender bender claim. Joe Idiot hit you from behind and he owes you.
Win or Die is a concept of how to fight your claim. It’s roots are found here and at other places like Hadit.com. A select number of people have been through what you have and can share their experiences. We can contribute law and technique from those who have run the race and won–and lost. Yes. There is knowledge to be gained there as well. We can tell you about exciting new precedent from the CAVC and the Federal Circuit that may affect your technique or aid you better in the pursuit of your claims.
Win or Die is lastly a philosophy of Life. It teaches you to pursue it to the end-up to and including after death. If your claim has merit, your spouse should pick up that banner and march forward. If you make that commitment to your claim(s), you will be surprised with the results. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. The longer your claim has been ping-ponged back and forth, hamster-wheeled to DC and back, and readjudicated, the higher your chances of success. Much higher.
Win or Die reveals the secret of improving your odds the higher you go on appeal. It reveals how to ensure you do not make claim-killing errors. Mostly, it teaches how not to lose. My book left off as I was waiting for the BVA to hear my appeal. I lost when I was confident of a win, but I was prepared for the loss. In fact, I had prepared for it much like hanging a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. I prevailed due to all the hard work done six years earlier, not at the last moment in desperation. When not fishing, cut bait. And that, in a nutshell, is Win or Die. With the amount of time required to make this happen, it’s like community service. Every sixteen months there’s a flurry of activity and then morose boredom for another year. Win or Die is related to it’s close cousin ‘Git ‘er done’.