Rarely do we get to enjoy Christmas cheer of this magnitude and so close to a day of such immense implications associated with the joy of giving and receiving. I am overjoyed to announce that after carefully building a well-constructed foundation on top of the c-file in his possession, Butch managed to attain a TDIU with Permanent and Total in eleven short months of his filing. Were we to excuse four months for VA’s mailing his C&P exams to the wrong 1970 address of record, it could have been seven months.
I wish to thank our Congressman, Derek Kilmer, profusely along with his VA Crash Crew (Nick Carr and Andrea Roper) for their super work when VA dropped the ball in July. You will remember Kilmer’s work earlier in obtaining Butch’s long-lost CIB and Purple Heart.
I wrote this back in October 2014 when we began this battle.
Unfortunately, this story has a sorry tale attached to it. The Tinnitus and Shell Fragment Wounds and (SFWs) Butch suffered in 1969 were, like his medals, never fully recognized or awarded by VA as compensation until yesterday. Only now are they willing to admit to the severity of the wounds that were compensable even then. Surely, the award of 10% for a severe shrapnel wound to the hand would necessitate an investigation into where the remainder of the 60 mm Viet Cong mortar round ended up that night. VA somehow didn’t dial in on that. Also missing was an informed decision on TBI, concussive shock, hearing loss and tinnitus. Oddly, the 1970 VA rater remarked on the rating sheet that Butch clearly suffered from tinnitus but that never was realized.
An inferred claim in these circumstances is a basic legal premise. If a mortar impacts a foot away from you, certain medical triage principles are employed later on in rating you. In Butch’s case, one fragment embedded all the way through in his right eye. VA doesn’t “see” it. Tinnitus, headaches and worse followed. VA refused to “hear” of it. If they can clearly now acknowledge the compensable nature of his SFWs in 2015, it stands to reason the same subset of muscle group disabilities existed in 1970 when the original 10% rating was awarded. To argue otherwise is vintage VA chutzpah.
Butch was granted 50% for PTSD and I feel that was a major lowballing typical of VA. The only upside to this is that the VA Grinch didn’t steal Butch’s Christmas. We have not heard the last of LZ Cork or Butch Long. A warm thank you to Bob Lockett and all the rest of the LZ Cork Alumni who have offered their support to Butch in the last year. I cannot tell you how proud I am to belong to this Band of Brothers.
Merry Christmas to you both Butch and Barb. You are long overdue for this. A benefit delayed is a benefit denied. Yesterday only began to right the wrongs of forty six years ago.