FROM THE HEAVENSGATE RO
IN SAINT PETER’S BURG
Phil Cushman’s name will probably remain high in the pantheon of heroes at the VA along with Mario Caluza, Norman NMI Gilbert and Joe Fenderson. Hosannas in the highest and good incense always linger around those folks who give us due process for eternity. So who in the Sam F. Hill would you expect to be tampering with private medical records at the VA in this day and age? The VA Examiner? The Veteran? That certainly might be the uppermost thought that comes to mind in the warped world of raters.
Unfortunately, the laws changed and ostensibly only VA shrinks can cast dem bones since 2010. Before that, as here, VSRs had to manually staple the proper interpretation onto the front of the Veteran’s nexus instructing the VA examiner to inflate the GAF score up about 20 before pushing print on the denial. Or… God forbid, an Accredited VFW service representative blowing a hole in the bottom of his own Vet’s claim boat? I can almost hear Tim Allen going Arrhuuuu?
Additionally, both the July 2009 and October 2009 reports from Dr. O. have an additional note stapled to them which reads as follows:
As per discussions w/RO 317 Rating Specialists, Decision Review Officers, and their reviews, they indicate that this private examiner has a known history of assigning much lower GAF scores as opposed to VA Mental Health C&P examiners, and as such do not assign greater probative value to the examiner’s assessments.
R. Epps VFW ACCRED[ited]. REP[presentative].
The Veteran has asserted that he was unaware of these notes placed in between his medical reports until after he appealed the February 2013 Board decision. He has argued that he has not had an opportunity to rebut this negative notation evidence. See Cushman v. Shinseki, 576 F.3d 1290, 1300 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (finding a violation of a constitutional right to a fair hearing where the Board considered an altered medical record). On remand, the Veteran must be given an opportunity to rebut this negative notation evidence.
Now, unless I’d been smoking some really aged 2004 Mantanuska Thunderf**k with good hashish slivers on top, I’d have thought the whole idea of this Veterans Service Representative gig was to be your buddy , your, pal, your friend -from the 526 until the end. What I’m hearing is
Dear Veterans Law Judge Bradley W. Hennings,
Please disregard my client’s nexus due to the feverishly overworked mind of a very liberal, Thorazined-out phrenologist cum shrink who has a noted propensity to err on the side of the Veteran. Since VA would never stoop so low as to denigrate a Veteran, we at the VFW, as officers of the Court, feel obligated to come forward and sandbag our client. Granted, he’s entitled to a 1154(b) but we think he’s blowing bubbles.
R. Epps VFW ACCRED. REP.
I congratulate VLJ Hennings for his intestinal fortitude in calling a spade a spade. I fear for his longevity in this endeavour if he persists in openly advocating for Vets. One does not give away free meal passes for long without dire consequences. They’ll start insinuating that you aren’t a TEAM player and personifying the proper image of a VLJ.
We have few friends in this compensation business and far more who seem indifferent. Do not be fooled or taken in by those who purport to be your Huckleberry. Likewise, don’t be so quick to pull the trigger on your VLJ when you eventually deal with him/her. Just because I’m 2/7 (with one VLJ failing entirely to comply with a JMPR) doesn’t mean you won’t run into somone as kind and paternalistic as Judge Hennings. What the hey? I’ve met the gentleman and he’s far more pro-Vet and forward thinking than he even appears here (in the decision, not the picture).
Veterans need to remember to ride their “Cushman” to a lawyers office much earlier, especially when VA “manipulates” the paperwork to the VA’s advantage.
Once again, this brings up the adage, “There is no free rent”, and the VFW gets “free rent” at my VAMC, and also at the Regional Office. “Payment” for this free rent came in the form of a note from Mr. Epps, which the VA gladly accepted, in this instance. I wonder if the VA sent Mr. Epps a receipt for the rent that Mr. Cushman paid in his behalf?