Ray w/ captured DShK .51 cal. in 7th ACCS aircrew briefing room

Yet another Veterans Day story in the “pages of our war” lives. This one hits closer to home for me on several different levels. I wish to introduce you to Ray from Texas. Once upon a time, Ray served over me in a  C-130 with a Theatre Air Control suite. Several air controllers could summons and direct vast air assets where needed. Ray’s 130 flew a racetrack pattern over Military Region II (MRII)- code name Barrel Roll. South of us along the Vietnam/Laos border was a similar MR III called Steel Tiger. Most of it was unrecognizable at 32,000 ASL. Hillsboro’s racetrack pattern was primarily over the Plaine des Jars… once upon a time… in a farwaway country that rhymed with “mouse”. My nondisclosure agreement expires next September 20th (2020) or I’d go into greater detail. It’s a dilly of a story. It makes Terry and the Pirates look like a bunch of Snowflakes.

His was often the voice that greeted us on 118.9 Mhz upcountry when we called in requests for air strikes. His call sign was Hillsboro. The nighttime version of this was Cricket.  In all probability, I probably talked to this man more than once 49 years ago. That he would find me, Buckwheat,  and seek representation for AO in Thailand is a fantastic coincidence. Even more so, that I could take his BVA remand and turn it in to a full-blown route in his favor is better than a Supersized Roy Rodgers with three maraschino cherries and extra juice. You get better odds on  Scratch and Sniff Lotto tickets for $1000.

Ray in front of Hillsboro Operations Hqrs. Udorn RTAFB 1970

Of all Vets, even as a Thailand-based Vet, Ray should not have had to fight this fight. He was aircrew and they often had to beat feet and land at Da Nang or Cam Ranh if the NVAF sent any Migs up to snoop around. With that testimony and his Air Medal showing combat, he should have been granted presumptive exposure and not been put through five years of pure hell. Prostate cancer and the post-cancer residuals are pretty nasty. Throw in some serious DM II/PN and you have a world of misery on top of your VA claims.

Ray came to me and needed a repair order. What kind, he was unsure of. I made no bones about it about ten seconds after I got my CMA to expedite the Power of Attorney in VA’s computer. I plumb laid into the David Koresh Memorial Regional Office in Whacko, Texas. I let them know this was not going to be a Texas Necktie Party on my watch. I made it clear I was getting a SME (Subject Matter Expert) IMO (Independent Medical Opinion) to rebut anything they came up with for a new hangman’s noose and a fresh horse. I just didn’t say when. Within a month, some gomer GS-13 with a goofy voice named Fred McGonagil or similar rings me up and says he’s figured this all out. Stay with me now. This is going to grate on some of you Thailand Vets’ ears if you’ve been fighting this thing for a while.

Since our boy Ray had to pack up the 7th ACCS’s paraphernalia and take it from Udorn to Korat RTAFB via a deuce and half in ’71 when they relocated, it stood to reason that he had to have gone off base and was exposed to- guess what?- AO- or rather ‘tactical herbicides’- in polite Thai parlance. The King had forbidden its spraying in his country. He wasn’t any dummy. By now, he’d had a decade to appreciate what Agents Pink, Green, Purple and Super Orange had wrought in Laos and the Vietnams. I guess he figured A White and A Blue were not quite so toxic. Fat chance. Worse, when we quit spraying it in the RVN, they just transshipped all the leftovers where it was needed… around the inside perimeters of our bases in Thailand.

Ray airborne in ABCC A/C over MR II circa 1971.

You can see why this dog won’t hunt. AO (or whatever) was sprayed, as I just mentioned above, inside the perimeter to keep firing lines clear. Of course, if the gooks got inside the wire, our barracks were about 40 feet away anyway. We would have been toast in seconds but every one of us already walked through AO to go anywhere on base. If exposure was to be granted for being outside the wire, it brings into question all the troops who went off base every weekend to go drinking.

So, my guess is they did some JSRRC (Joint Services Records Research Center)  sniffing and the command history of the 7th ACCS popped up showing occasional diversions to a RVN base. What better way to dodge the stupidity bullet and admitting your ignorance when you can unilaterally alter the regulations by granting SC for being off base. Who will ever know? About everyone who reads this blog, I hope. Hell, based on this, having a STD should automatically give all of you Thai Vets presumptive status, right?

Regardless, VA has screwed up as only they can. §3.103(c), written by our beloved Secretary, states in no uncertain terms…

38 CFR § 3.103 – Procedural due process and other rights.

§ 3.103 Procedural due process and other rights.

(a) Statement of policy. Every claimant has the right to written notice of the decision made on his or her claim, the right to a hearing, and the right of representation. Proceedings before VA are ex parte in nature, and it is the obligation of VA to assist a claimant in developing the facts pertinent to the claim and to render a decision which grants every benefit that can be supported in law while protecting the interests of the Government. The provisions of this section apply to all claims for benefits and relief, and decisions thereon, within the purview of this part 3.

That’s pretty powerful Ju-Ju. What it means is VA forgot to grant Ray SMC K for loss of use of a creative organ. Worse, they short-sheeted him on SMC S as well. Buie v. Shinseki is unequivocal that you must maximize any award and most especially SMC awards. Having prostate cancer sort of screws things up as only VA knows. Worser, DM II also does, too. Worser yet, VA knows all this. How can they feign medical ignorance?

Ray got 20% for DM II, 40 % for PN R upper, 30% for L PN upper, 20% for L lower PN ; 20% for R Lower PN, 20% L lower femoral nerve PN and 20% R Lower femoral nerve PN. As you VA mathematicians can add, this is 82% (plus the bilateral factor if you’re terribly anal). Most importantly though, one of the DM II ratings is 40% or more with the balance adding up to 70% or more entitling Ray to TDIU consideration. Equally, a rating for Prostate cancer s/p remission at 60% is also equally entitled to consideration for TDIU.

VA chose to add all these ratings up to arrive at a “combined” rating of 100% or greater. However, this is incorrect. The proper way was to grant TDIU for the 60% s/p Prostate residuals and grant SMC K for LOU plus SMC S for an independently ratable 80% for the residuals of DM II. Or, in the obverse, grant TDIU for the DM II plus residuals and award SMC S for the 60% s/p Prostate. Six of one and half a dozen of another. Trust VA to come up with the least benefit possible. This is becoming the norm in VA “cost-cutting” since the AMA was dreamed up back in 2017.

So, it’s back up to the BVA hamster wheel for a few more months for poor Ray. One of these days you folks will believe me when I say VA is not your BFF. Anyway, it’s one hell of a Veterans Day warm, fuzzy tale and its entirely true, or will be, on 9/23/2020. Thank you Ray for trusting your appeals to me. I hope I passed the audition. Here’s a great shot of Ray and Muriel. It’s why I so love doing this work. You just can’t make this stuff up.

As a P.S. I wish to thank my local Les Schwab Tire Store in Gig Harbor, Washington for fixing two of my tires this morning for free and they weren’t even purchased there. The young man refused payment…and thanked me for my service. I knew that “I served in Vietnam” bumper sticker would pay off eventually. Did any of you know Les Schwab was a Veteran, too? 




About asknod

VA claims blogger
This entry was posted in Agent Orange, All about Veterans, DM II, From the footlocker, KP Veterans, SMC, Thailand AO presumptive path, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, Veterans Day, Veterans Law and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. asknod says:

    Sadly, Ray passed away April 10, 2020. I took the appeal up to the CAVC and we finally won there. SMC S back to 2015 and SMC K added in 2016.

  2. Brandi says:

    This is my first time posting here so please excuse me if I totally mess up. I have a question about SMC.
    Veteran is currently rated at SMC L 1/2 + K. Ratings are for: 100% for PTSD with AA for this rating. In addition:
    Gerd:60, Trauma induced Migraines: 50, Bilateral feet (multiple issues): 50, Skin issue: 30, Back:10, Right knee: 10, Left knee: 10, Right Ankle: 10, Left ankle: 10, (all of these are arthritis), Varicose veins: 10, Partial loss of visual field in left eye (result of same head injury that cause the migraines): 10. Halux Valgus Rt foot:10, Halux Valgus Left foot 10 (these were seen as sufficient to warrant separate rating from the over all 50 bilateral)
    There is a current claim pending for an autoimmune disease (nexus letter provided by expert in the field showing surgeries while active duty were this disease), and co morbidities from this…..should result in an additional 100% rating.
    Also, there are a few issues from this disease that now also affect the veteran that were not rated: including neuropathy in both feet (verified by EMG).
    Veteran has been in a power chair for almost 9 years (prescribed by the VA) after years of canes, to crutches, knee braces, bilateral AFO’s etc. Veteran also has issues with vertigo and dizziness related to the head injury and did while active duty. There had been multiple falls resulting in knocked out teeth, broken leg, torn meniscus, partial ACL tear etc.
    The veteran requested LOU both feet when this last claim was submitted and it was denied before the C&P on the feet which resulted in an increase from the former 30 to current 50% + the 2 10’s.
    Veteran wants to fight the LOU decision but is unsure of the best way. The doc. that did the C&P on the feet said there was LOU in both feet but it was a QTC rater and the exam has not yet been made available to see if they actually wrote what they said they would.
    WHat is the bst way to fight for the LOU both feet given this situation? If the veteran gets th additional 100% for the autoimmune disease as well would that affect the over all rating?
    Veteran was AD Army 1972 to 1985. Honorable discharge. No time in Viet Nam.
    Thank you

    • asknod says:

      This one’s easy. I’d get his neurologist to opine about all the falls and the present danger of more. Have him declare LOU of the LEs exists because of the fall danger. You have to be exquisite in how you write the answer to the question. Follow §3.350(a)(2)(i):
      “Loss of use of a hand or a foot will be held to exist when no effective function remains other than that which would be equally well served by an amputation stump at the site of election below elbow or knee with use of a suitable prosthetic appliance.”
      The nuanced phrase is ”no effective function remains”. Even an elective amputation with suitable prosthesis would not prevent the fall danger.
      If he uses VA health, you’ll never get any of the doctors to declare the above. Further, the M 21 illegally states only a VA examiner (read a VA rater) can make this determination. If you lose,which you state you have, I’d get a VA attorney pronto. SMC pays back to the day you can medically prove the disability ( LOU) existed by records.
      The winning regulation is Jensen v. Shulkin and §3.809(a)(b). VA refuses to listen to a Vet or a VSO. You need a shield bearer to win. With the AA already granted, the LOU of LE will advance you to SMC O. Because one of his disabilities granting SMC L is AA already, he automatically advances to SMC R1 which just happens to pay $7,922.86 per month from the day you can prove he had LOU. I’d say 9 years if VA prescribed the power chair for mobility. Remember, LOU in §3.809 screws up the definition of LOU in §3.350(a)(2)(i). VA has to grant the higher benefit. VA hates to give out R1 and R2. That’s why you are never going to get there without a law dog to be your Sherpa. I’ve done a few of these and they generally take two years or so. You file as a CUE.

  3. Vicki says:

    Sounds familiar. Make the veteran 100% schedular, even though eligible for IU. This avoids having to pay SMC(s) based on 100% (IU) plus 60%, then claiming since they already rated the veteran schedular, the IU claim that better benefits the veteran is moot.

  4. Lem says:

    In case you read this, Gordon: It was fitting that on Veteran’s Day, I was denied a writ of certiorari on the Feres Doctrine, SCOTUS 18-9532. I knew the odds were greater than 1 in 10,000 against me. But I still have CAVC Docket No. 17-2990 before a judge and the denial of due process rampant in my RBA.

  5. Kiedove says:

    Read an interesting article about these planes.
    Old airplanes find new life in Tucson’s famed boneyard
    By Henry Brean Arizona Daily Star Nov 4, 2019
    “Meanwhile, about a mile away, a small army of specialty painters fans out across a dirt lot to spray protective coating on row after row of mothballed C-130 transport planes.”
    Wonder if they could be turned into shelters…

  6. Ray says:

    Well this is Ray. I can truly say if it were not for Alex I still be discouraged, pissed off, and not any closer than I was five yrs ago. If you need help contact Alex.
    Oh yes, I was promoting him way before any results were positive.
    I will be glad to talk or email with any of you if you want.

    • Kiedove says:

      Hi Ray. Is this the basic summary: You were exposed to AO in Thailand and the VA rats knew or suspected it, but denied your claim anyway. They did not look for evidence or let on that evidence may have been available–in violation of 38 CFR § 3.103.
      So for five years, fighting for your life, you were denied two AO presumptives for DMII and prostrate cancer (now in remission, thank God) anyway.
      Alex is getting this fixed with other strategies. So things looking much better.

      Five years is a long time for any veteran to suffer like you have. I think that a vet who has a potential presumptive disease should be flagged and screened for benefits immediately. They are all life-threatening and help is needed immediately.

      Even if my summary is off, what happened to you is a disgrace. But you are still kicking, and Alex is fighting, so I’m optimistic some stresses will be lifted. The VA forgets about the family that is also put into turmoil by these bad players. Treat yourselves to something special!
      Thanks for sharing this good true story outcome on Veterans Day.

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