Since I seemed to have attracted a few unsavory folks who are disgruntled with my recent unmasking of certain, how shall we say, ‘doctors with credibility baggage’, I like to give everyone fair warning if they want to meet me and settle the score. Naw. Just kidding. I’ve discovered for the most part they’re all hat and no cowboy. I dutifully showed up for my small claims court complaint September 26th that I owed a fellow at Tripodi LLC from Prescott, Arizona $5,000 dollars for having to fix one of them doctors’ reputations after I published the VA IMO Sh*tlist. The gomer withdrew his complaint back in late August but plumb disremembered to let me know before the trial.
That’s okay. I had to renew my concealed weapons permit and seeing’s how that office is right across the street, the gas wasn’t wasted. I have a handicapped plate so it didn’t set me back anything on parking either. I thank my good buddy Brandon inflation hasn’t hit our government yet. It’s still only $32 every five years. I look at it like a hunting license to shoot bad guys that only costs $6.20 annually for a perp tag. That’s a bargain at twice the price.
Well, this year the NOVA troops are gathering in Cincinnati, Ohio. I loved watching Drew Carrey in his TV show with the pool table outside. I sadly realize that they probably filmed it in LA but it has that cache of nostalgia. This will be my first visit to the city. We were slated to gather here for the 2020 Spring NOVA but we all remember how that played out. Looks like I should pack a spinning rod and some Mepps #3s.
From the website, the Hyatt Regency has that ’70s neo-penitentiary architectural aspect on the outside. No offense but it’s pretty skinny in photograhs. Maybe I just have to see it in person. But you know what they (VSOs) say about all us VA ambulance chasers. We’re probably just going for the cheap, single malt scotch. Au contraire, ma cher. I fervently disagree. Personally, I’m a Johnny Blue kind of guy if they have it in stock. The Air America Hostel in Luang Prabang (L 54) spoiled me rotten in ’70. Shit, they even had real quinine water for the Tanqueray. And ice cubes.
One thing I’ve been watching from afar is a Veterans Help website where one of the prime contributors is convincing his fellow claimants to refuse to attend c&p exams. Well, not all of them but ones where you file for TDIU and they haul you in one last time to look under the hood and confirm you’re permanently one quart low and figure out why the heck the check engine light refuses to go out. Or ones where you’re going for SMC L aid and attendance. I guess I don’t have to dig too deeply in 38 CFR §3.655 to explain how this advice can be costly if followed blindly. Not going to the c&p is a guaranteed recipe for a Texas Necktie Party.
One thing I can’t wrap my noggin around is how any Vet who is collecting compensation from VA thinks he can dictate the rules on how this poker game works. Worse, advising all your buddies at ____.com they don’t have to pay any attention to all that QTC paperwork that arrives by FEXEX™ Express overnight or the repeated phone calls from Optum® (they bought out LHI). All this valuable free legal advice is gonna cause a shit ton of bad feelings when VA drops you from TDIU back to 60%. Before you open that piehole, think like a doctor. First, do no harm.
I have a close LRRP friend who wanted to go into the §3120 ILP program recently apply for it. The VR&E folks tried to sign him up for §3107 training at the college for welding and set him up with some job interviews afterwards. They know fully well he’s TDIU so if he actually got a job, he’d get the reduction. VA was perfectly okay with letting him clothesline himself. It’s one thing for VA to screw you but when it’s your fellow Vet playing VA lawyer giving you bogus advice, it’s sad.
I sit on the other side of the desk now and do these claims for Vets. It amazes me how much misinformation circulates from “official sources”. Why do VSOs admonish you after a whopping 0% award for tinnitus to sit tight for a few years before filing for the compensable increase to 10%? I’ve heard thousands say they were told VA might think you were greedy and take it away from you altogether.
I’ve heard Vets insist that once you get to 10 years, your compensation is protected and cannot be taken away. Wrong. The truth is they can never take away the service connection after ten years. They can monkey with your percentage all they want right up until 20 years. After five years you get a flimsy aura of protection inasmuch as they have to do two c&p exams with a suitable intervening period to show enough improvement to reduce you. But, they also have to prove you can sustain that improvement for the rest of your life. VA doesn’t tell you that part. So you get three stents and your IHD gets “better”. They do a US six months later and say your LVEF went up from 23% to 51% so they drop you from 100 to 30%. What happens if it drops back to below 30% next year from all them Big Macs? VA would have you become a frequent filer just to keep up with your defective left ventricle and your DM II.
The fact of the matter is that VA regulations are constantly changing-and never in your favor. As soon as it became widely known that they were handing out CPAPs and 50% ratings for OSA, every swinging dick in Iraqistan started going in to sick call before separating and complaining about insomnia and sore throats from all that snoring. They’d line each other out with buddy letters swearing up one side of the tent and down the other that they all got insomnia (and OSA) from listening to you. Pretty soon OSA was like Mardi Gras beads on Fat Tuesday. VA sat up and took notice of this as well as tinnitus. They aren’t stupid. They have bean counters. I forecast it several years ago and here we are getting ready to see a “realignment” of how all this is evaluated.
VA law gets more complicated and convoluted every day. Veterans are going to see major changes shortly. Worse, each revision makes it harder to win and harder to attain a rating commensurate with the level of disability. If you were stupid enough to jump out of perfectly good airplanes just to get your jump wings, don’t be surprised 30 years later when your knees, ankles/lower back/cervical give out. And when they do, VA is not going to be there like a good neighbor. Make no mistake about it. They’re an insurance company but nowhere near as generous as Gecko© or State Barn®.
Have you ever gone to your civilian doctor and have him greet you at the beginning of the visit? “Hey there, Bill. Long time no see. How they hanging?” So how would you feel if your rejoinder was “I’m fine and you?” but the doctor writes down “Bill insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He honestly doesn’t even know why he’s here.” Say you were pissing a little blood and wanted to get a prostate checkup or kidney creatinine lab reading. Would you expect a civilian doctor to also run a complete drug screen on your urine for ketamine, opiates, cocaine, cannabis or fentanyl? VAMCs do this routinely. I’ve read it in my own VHA records. Without your permission. If you have loss of use of a lower extremity or are just limping or using a cane, a VA doctor or the booth bitch will query you on how you arrived. Did you drive yourself or did the better half drive you? If you drove yourself and state as much, you’ll see “Patient arrived alone by private vehicle and ambulatory. WN (well nourished) and NAD (no apparent distress).” You see where this is going? You’re on parade when you go to a VAMC or CBOC. Metrics that would ordinarily have no medical significance will be warped into proving your medical condition began improving a year ago and now is vastly improved. Poof. You just gave them two c&p exams camouflaged as annual wellness exams. The best part of all was these visits were absolutely free because you’re rated over 50%. Hallelujah, huh?
I read VA-authored articles that insist Vets are tickled pink with the service they get at VAMCs. I lived at one for 14 months so I know better. I got peripheral neuropathy of the right wrist pushing the call button for hours at a time. They OD’d me on Heparin. I got MRSA. I had a septal infarct. I’m tickled pink I got out of there alive. It only took four surgeries instead of one. I suppose if you came here from a third world country, you’d think VA medical was the cat’s pajamas. Try calling them up and getting an appointment for a badly sprained ankle this Friday. Rots a ruck. Looking into my crystal ball, I see a lot of Ibuprophen in your future. I can go online and find an appointment time from my doctor’s calendar, schedule it and never talk to a human being. When I get there, they don’t look up in surprise and say “Jez, didn’t you get the email? The doctor couldn’t come in today. Sorry.”
Remember, when you give advice to a Vet on VA claims, please be sure it is accurate and helpful. I just took in a 76-year old Brownwater Vet last week. He’s pretty far gone from Parkinson’s and DM II. He’s been 80% for seven years. I can see in VBMS that the Rater deferred his TDIU and waited for his VSO to submit an 8940. Mr. VFW service officer expert never did so they denied the IU. Poof. There went $94 K in legitimate benefits for the last 7 years. Welcome to my world.
Maybe I’ll see some of you folks in Cincinnati. I’d look forward to that. The fellow who commissioned Soldierstone out in Colorado wrote a sentiment I will always hold dear.
” It is a worthy thing to fight for one’s freedom
It is another sight finer to fight for another man’s.”
I can’t begin to tell you how honored I am to be allowed to do this. It’s almost akin to Dan Ackroyd’s observation in the Blues Brothers… “We’re on a mission from God”. See you in Cincinnati.