From the Johnny Cash Memorial
VARO in New Orleans, Louisiana
Every once in a while you read a decision and you ask yourself “What was this Vet thinking?” Trying to blow bubbles about your service is all well and fine, Trying to revamp history after you’ve already told your version of the story is going to create a niggling doubt in the Veterans Law Judge’s mind-and anyone else reading the narrative.
Our Johnny Vet either disremembers a lot of his prior service life or else he’s trying to rebuild it with the assistance of the Joint Services Records Research Center (JSRRC). The eleven able-bodied employees down there in DC might be slow but they are precise. If you say a guy got blown off the flight deck and drowned, you have to pretty much stick with the story or fold up and go home when they discover you are lying.
This poor boy is caught out so many times that he’s an embarrassment to Vetkind. His DAV rep. must be shitting bricks and trying to figure out how to spin this. In spite of it, VLJ Shane Durkin tries to keep a straight face and remand it for more info. What kind of info is no longer in doubt. Chances are we’re going to read about this again in a year after the JSCCR inveighs and says no sailor on the USS Kitty Hawk was cut in half by the arrestor cable.
Consider these anomalies.
The Veteran served on active duty from Feb. 1976 to August 1977.
That means he missed the boundary dispute that officially was called on account of our US Embassy no longer being staffed by us after May 7th, 1975. Actually, we bugged out on the 29th of April. Maybe his DD 214 is in error.
The Veteran has alleged that he contracted hepatitis C through air gun inoculation in service. At his July 2013 hearing before the undersigned, in reference to potential avenues for contracting hepatitis C, the Veteran provided contradictory statements concerning whether he had used intravenous illicit drugs, at first testifying that he only had contact with needles when he was inoculated in service and never using drugs with needles. He subsequently asserted that he was inoculated by air gun in service when so questioned by his representative. He then conceded, when confronted at the hearing with the fact that treatment records provided a history of intravenous drug use and snorting cocaine, that he had indeed previously snorted cocaine and had previously “a few times” used intravenous illicit drugs. He qualified this changed narrative by asserting that he had only used intravenous drugs with “a brand new needle.”
Sure, that’s how it was. Brand new needles. I bought them by the six pack- but just once. And when I did the White Lady, see, I used my own brand new straw because I’m like-you know- an obsessive/compulsive kind of guy and a clean freak. That’s why I didn’t mention it. Nope. No risk factor there either.
At his July 2013 hearing, the Veteran testified to witnessing a fellow soldier whom he did not know cut in half by a cable when an airplane landed on the USS Kitty Hawk sometime in 1977 in the Pacific Ocean on a cold day most likely in the winter.
While the Veteran in his October 2009 submission also reported that he witnessed a fellow soldier cut in half by a cable, the RO made no query to the JSRRC for verification of that incident. The RO must attempt to verify this reported incident upon remand.
VLJ Durkin has now remanded to see if this stressor exists. My guess is Johnboy had no idea they could find out what was happening on the Kitty Hawk back in 1977. My second guess is that Shane and the JSRRC gang are not going to find any sailors in two pieces. Navy’s OSHA guys are pretty strict about doing the Macarena around the arrestor cables during air operations.
The Veteran also testified [at the hearing] to witnessing a fellow soldier being blown off the ship and being saved. This is notably a changed narrative from the Veteran’s written submission in October 2009, when he asserted that the soldier who was blown off the ship was ‘pronounced dead.’ Following the Veteran’s October 2009 statement the RO made a stressor query to the JSRRC concerning a fellow being blown off ship in July 1977, and the reply indicates that two soldiers were blown off the USS Kitty Hawk that month and both were recovered by rescue swimmers and by helicopter. The RO in an April 2012 Statement of the Case noted this information from JSRRC contradicted the Veteran’s report of a fellow soldier being pronounced dead following being blown overboard. The Veteran may have changed his narrative in light of this JSRRC report.
Gee. Ya think?
In a request for assistance from his U.S. Senator and received by VA in July 2014, the Veteran asserted that he “almost died” in service, though he failed to provide additional relevant details except to note “Vietnam.” The Veteran has not elsewhere alleged almost dying in service, and absent additional details there would not appear to be a specific stressor to be verified. The record does not reflect that the Veteran served in Vietnam or that he had service in the Vietnam Era.
I think the Senator misunderstood me. You guys took it out of context. We were in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam when I almost died. That was when I was having nightmares about being blown off the ship. I swear my heart stopped while I was dreaming and I thought I was gonna die. I never said I fought in Vietnam. Where did you get that from?
Poor Johnny is going to have some mighty tall explaining to do when JSCCR comes back with no arrestor cable deaths. I note his 4-year enlistment ended after a mere seventeen months but there is no discussion on that. It’s probably still classified.