A funny thing happened on the way to the
Forum barn to feed the horses last October. A former SEAL called me up and asked for representation. Seems he was qualifying for BUDS back in 1974 after his RVN tour and had a mishap. He and a few fellow candidates had driven across country from San Diego to Ft. Gordon (in his VW microbus) to get their parachute certifications. He caught a bad crosswind on the third jump and, as could be expected, managed to wreck his back/neck and everything connected to them for life. He sucked it up and went on to qualify several days later. It stuck in his craw that VA never granted this most obvious claim of all. By way of explanation, he’s already 100% for Prostate and IHD. This wasn’t going to net him any more shekels but would at least set the record straight.
Well, you know me. I’m a pro bono sucker and special forces like SOGs, LRRPs, Rangers and SEALs always hit that soft spot in my heart. So of course I took it. He was at the BVA on an old Legacy claim and had 26 days to whip up a winning defense to save his claims bacon. On November 10, ’21, I conducted the shortest BVA Travel Board hearing in history and asked for a time out using Hamilton v. Brown to obtain a good IMO from my world-class nexus letter folks. VLJ Keith Allen wasn’t ecstatic about the delay but graciously gave me the 90 days to put up or shut up. We came in with 16 days to spare. As my client is terminally ill, we got the 78 rpm BVA advancement on the docket and a quick grant for all four orthopedic conditions.
No, it didn’t cost me $10,000.00 (US). No, it wasn’t 60 DBQs long nor the least bit holistic. Fact is, I don’t use DBQs and have little use for them. The outward-facing ones VA supplies us are a far cry from the ones that QTC/VES/LHI use. Theirs have a place to insert the medical opinion- even if it’s just the ruminations of an ARNP with a specialty in pediatric medicine. Those provided to us do not. Funny thing is back in 2015, USB Allison Hickey explained this absence to Congress at a hearing that they were just “using up” all the old forms for economy’s sake. Considering the forms are in electronic format, this bogus explanation was never called out by Rep. Filner or the Big Six VSOs.
My Vet’s IMO came in, as I said, with time to spare but I abhor cutting it that close-just as I’ve eternally wished they’d put one more second on hand grenades. The good doctor’s synopsis was clear and concise. People who jump out of perfectly good airplanes are going to eventually grow shorter and ache like a son of a bitch… forever. Where’s the big mystery to this? I rode a PC 6 Porter into the ground at 85+ knots one morning and went from 5’9 to 5’8 3/4 instantly. I’m about 5’8 1/2 half now. My L5/S1 is bone to bone. We didn’t have parachutes and would never have had enough time or altitude to deploy one anyway. Some days it just doesn’t pay to get up and go fly with drunk pilots. But that’s another story for another day.
I don’t suggest that Veterans dawdle and lollygag about with a Damocles-like hearing hanging over their heads. Nevertheless, it’s a good feeling to fix a sixty nine year-old wrong-even if it’s for free. I suppose I can take the long view and figure with incurable Prostate cancer that my Vet is going to be a candidate for SMC L or R1 all too soon, but that’s not why I did it. We aren’t required to ‘donate’ any certain amount of time to pro bono work but it’s great for padding your resume if your chances of getting into Heaven are sketchy. I probably need all the help I can get on that.
Once upon a time in 1994, I filed for Agent Orange issues and VA took the position that I’d never set foot in that part of the world. That belief held until I managed to get my records declassified in 2007. Bingo. 100% just like opening a box of Crackerjacks™. In addition to being a Trident-wearing SEAL, my Vet has a Combat Action Ribbon. He should never be suspected of being a charter member of the Safeway® slip-on-the-floor Club. In my book, he and I didn’t get none of that Rodney Dangerfield “respect”. So of course it’s always morally worth it to set things like this aright.
My good friend and fellow blogger Gene Groves (https://veteranclaims.net/ ) was kind enough to share the import that Hamilton carries when you desire to put your claim/appeal on the back burner in order to clean it up or obtain some time to get an IMO. It’s just one more tool in our pouch to win with- or put off losing. Gene always has the perfect cite. He’s like a walking talking Westlaw.
A good time was had by all. Johnny SEAL Vet can now meet and greet his fellow warriors with his head held high knowing he’s been exonerated. Me? Why, I get a shot at rehabilitating my Karma resume. I think I set myself back a bit in January when I shot the meth head who stole my car. But I digress. That, too, is a story for another day.
Next week, I’ll teach you fellers how to make bottle rockets out of old c ration cans, 81mm mortar crate baling wire and Semtex from Claymores. These are life skills everyone needs.
P.S. If you like Country and Western music, this might raise you spirits. I reckon I’ve been selling the genre short all these years. Shut the front door.