As a lot of you law dogs and agents know, VBMS can be berry berry goot to you. This will be the
third fourth Vet I’ve encountered on this. I don’t get it. Well, I get it that VA has been very active in the shredding or circular filing of lots of important documents since the War of 1812. However, with the recent introduction of truly independent contractors -i.e. privately contracted from 3M® or Unisys™- the contractors don’t have a dog in this fight. They copy eeeeeeeeverything- front, back, envelopes-you name it. It’s also chronologically entered oldest to newest.
Gone are the good old days of having to hire a paralegal for $1,500 to MS.doc a 3,000-page c-file with a chronological page-by-page inspection. Many of you who do this can testify you’ll find 1972 STRs cheek-and-jowl with 2016 confirmed rating decisions.
But wait. We’re in 2018 now. As you’re putzing along reading all the documents filed in your client’s e- file- yep, you know, the dude whose records got burnt up in 1973 at the St. Louis Barbecue, lo and behold—-there they are in glorious color. That’s one of the cool bean things about VBMS. Color documents. One entry right after another already chronologically arranged and just waiting for you.
In this case, it looks like when he filed in ’71 they went back to Naval Air Station Key West looking for his hospital records. Negatory. They were long gone—back to the NPRC. Numerous times after that, requests were made to higher ups with the constant reply of no such number, no such phone. Finally, our boy wins in 2016 but they plumb disremembered to tell him they could reconsider (not reopen) his 1971 claim under the auspices of 38 CFR §3.156(c)(1)(i),(ii) (3),(4). Seems mighty peculiar that a pile of money that big and the belated entry of the STRs/MTRs didn’t set off klaxon horns in the San Juan P.I. M-21 mainframe.
If you were due for a c&p at 19 years and 9 months- three months shy of a protected 20-year rating,-I’m guessing that same M 21 would have that VES DBQ in the print queue six months in advance. So, why is this innovative computerized behemoth so balky when it comes to gargantuan payouts? Trust me, folks. This is not a “rare” Fugo-like error. We have to regularly file for SMCs at the S level all the way to R2 because VA is remarkably myopic when it comes to realizing your ratings add up to waaaaay more than 100 +60.
Squidly, one of our original founding members here, discovered last fall that the rocket boys at the Sioux Falls Fort Fumble did the same exact thing in 2013. Squidly happened to mention to his nurse about a certain inpatient stay during active duty and she entered it into the VHA VistA (CAPRI). The rater calls her up and says “Say all after Yokosuka NAS Hospital?” She rogers that and bingo-§3.156(c) records pop up in the file four working days later And, just like Roberto, they decided to fun Squidly and keep it a secret as to why they finally decided to acquiesce and grant SC 26 years later.
Most of you know about the LZ Cork Series with Butch Long. Same gig. We send back for his NPRC stuff from St. Louis and 156 pages of dustoff, the 312th Air Evac at Chu Lai, the records of debridement and eye surgery at the 95th Air Evac at Da Nang, his recup at Camp Zama before the evac out of theatre to CONUS all showed up. They forgot to put the medrecs on his stretcher… along with his Purple Heart and CIB. The whole shiteree from the Officer’s Daily Log to Letterman Hospital that went up in the ’73 fire showed up at Butch’s. We decided to share them with the VA. They were adamant they would not read §3.156(c) correctly so we’re all set for the sit down Travel Board face-to-face with the VLJ next month.
Back in May, down at the David Koresh Memorial Regional Office in Fort Whacko, Texas, we had the exact same thing come to pass. In 1971, Chris listed William Beaumont Army Hospital (now the Wm. Beaumont Medical Center) on his 26-page VA Form 21-526 as having his inpatient records after his CONUS evac from An Khe. Yep. They never sent out for them. Shocked. I am shocked. He mentioned it again around May 5th, 2018. By May 15th, the records were belatedly uploaded into VBMS and annotated as “medical records-government facility”. No STRs boldly emblazoned on the entry. No “Holy Shit, Batman- this guys is going to clean up” entry. No VA 27-0820 Report of Information to Veteran saying “Time to begin shopping for a Lamborghini, sir”. Nothing. Silence. I bet you all wondered how it got to be called a 526 huh? They’ve shrunk it down a few pages since but that original document was twenty six pages long and a 45-minute construction project back then.
In Fugo v. Brown, we were treated to the admonition that CUE was a rare error and occurred about as frequently as Halley’s Comet. Thank goodness. Halley’s has made several rare and frequent appearances in my neighborhood in the past year. The intriguing thing was I always had to tackle these types of claims as CUE because nobody at VA was dumb enough to let the STRs get into the c-file fifty years later. They’d shit can them. The reason we know this is the odds of one chucklehead nonattorney practitioner with no legal training (me) uncovering four of these in less than a year are pheeeeee-nominal. Shoo doggies, I’m going to lay $20 dollars down on the next big Powerball Lotto if I’m that dang lucky.
So, when they put your POA into the VBMS and your client pops up, check out his or her files with a fine tooth comb. Don’t buy that crap about something you just sent them is a duplicate CAPRI record. If they don’t have it, it’s a pretty good indication of spoliation of your claims file. That would be a matter of first impression if I had to fight it up at the big house on Indiana Ave. NW. but with the Village Idiots in charge of the claims file, you’ll find even easier ways to put a can opener into this project.
Here’s how we’re going to approach this Friday.
Today’s post is brought to you by the numbers three, one, five, six and the letter C.