I wanted to talk about this one on the Christmas Eve Exposed Vet radio broadcast a week or more ago but was stymied for lack of time. The story, however desperately bears telling for its heapin’ helpin’ of giving at Christmastime and that warm fuzzy feeling you always get when you make someone’s world a bit brighter. In the Veterans’ world, we represent a miniscule 2 percent of the population but our giving is legendary for those in need. Pour yourself some eggnog, fortified or not, and grab a listen to a story ’bout a gal named Pat…
This blog subject centers around an article I posted way back in March of 2018. It was a sad story about the nasty effects of Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. If you wish to read it, it’s here: https://asknod.org/2018/03/22/bva-two-american-kids-growing-up-in-the-heartland/
At the beginning of January 2022, I got an email from a gal, Patricia T. who wanted to help her cousin. Yep. Not her husband but her cousin’s husband. That right there impressed the bejesus out of me. I’ve never seen that level of desire to help so strong. Yoda would probably say something like “The claims force is strong in this one. Yessssss.” As I was booked out to eternity, I offered her encouragement and a referral to another VA attorney as a possible solution. I didn’t hear back until the day before the day before Xmas eve. But boy howdy, what a wonderful email to read at this time of the year. Howard, the Big Guy upstairs, was working overtime through Miz Patricia, I reckon.
Here ‘s what she first sent way back nigh on a year ago:
Thank you for posting about Jack and Diane. The first time I read their story, it put a smile on my face for several reasons. I grew up in the heartland, I loved the way you told the story and I love that you beat the BVA and how you did it. When I read your post, I had no idea that one day I might be helping someone fight the same battle.
I will cut to the chase because I know you are a busy man.
My cousin’s husband, LT COL Floyd Henry “Hank” W____, Gulf War vet, served 7 years at Camp Lejeune. During that period, he was deployed on two 5 month med cruises, but other than that, he was at CL from 1977-1984, approximately 2465 days. He drank the water there, never ever took lunch from home, always ate at the base, was a total cleanliness freak, so took, at minimum, one shower a day, most likely two, depending on his activity level. He never smoked, only drank about one beer a month, light appetite for sweets, had no other habits, no hits to the head, nothing. He did serve about a month in Kuwait during the Liberation of Kuwait and was exposed to the oil well and trash pit fires. He served March 1976-Oct 1987, got out for less than one month (honorable, not sure why he got out, but technically he got out) back in Nov 1987, retired Aug 1996.
He began losing his hearing while stationed at CL and was giving a 50% disability rating while still active duty. Have no idea if hearing loss could be attributed to chemical exposure from the base water, but I’m sure when they SC it, VA would not have voluntarily used that for nexus.
In 2018 he had his first seizure, was MRI’d, brain tumor detected, removed and typed (Duke), Glioblastoma Multiforme IDH Wildtype. Evidently, IDH Wildtype means there is no specific cause found for the cancer to have occurred. He had never had cancer in any other part of his body, it was not metastatic. Never had any of the viruses associated with glioblastomas. He went on a cancer vaccine trial, lasted one year. As soon as the trial was over, within a month, a new area of glioblastoma occurred above the initial surgical site. He immediately became bedridden, lost the use of his right side, ability to speak, then in less than 2 months, he passed away. His father, a WWII Army vet, passed away from brain cancer, but it was metastatic lung cancer and that is stated in black and white on his death certificate, so Hank’s cancer definitely was not hereditary.
My cousin has little to gain from this pursuit other than some satisfaction and a small amount of DIC. Unless there’s more money available that I think, but the way I read about DIC, a person just about has to be destitute to get any real DIC money and then it’s still not much. Hank’s life insurance paid off the house and my cousin has around 190K in savings leftover and it, she doesn’t work, has no other income, other than social security, but I think all that together is enough to reduce any DIC payout to a minimum. So the goal here is not money.
We would both like to see Hank’s glioblastoma ruled SC, first of all, because he deserves for it to be acknowledged by the VA and secondly because it might help pave the way for other vets who are suffering with the same issue. We are thinking the more people who have glioblastoma SC to CLCW, the more it might help lead to glioblastoma being added to the list of presumptive illnesses sometime in the future.
Question: Do you think it would be worth pursuing on our own? Do you think we have a chance? I have a good start on the write up. My cousin will be obtaining Hank’s medical records from 3 different providers, but with the current Omicron surge, that’s going to take a month or so. I was thinking we will submit it and most likely be denied, then would need to appeal. Evidently, initially, the local VA rep submitted the form for DIC and sent in a request for the glioblastoma to be SC solely because of the length of time Hank was stationed at CL. Of course, VA sent a letter stating more documentation is needed, etc. We will be sending them a request for extension due the Omicron Covid surge currently making the records unable to be obtained. They should give her an extension.
How much does it cost for an IMO? We were going to see if we could get one of the oncologists from Duke, who worked Hank’s case, to write an opinion, but in your post you said it is better if the expert who write the IMO has never met the subject. The people you use sound good, but if it’s super expensive to go that route, I’m not sure we could do it. Any and all suggestions you may have will be majorly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
I gave her the briefing on IMOs and lots of ideas. Her own husband was 100% P&T so she wasn’t any stranger to this process- just the Camp Lejeune quirks of law. And here, on December 21, Patricia reported back the best news a feller could ever hope to read.
Hello Mr Graham ☺️
I just received the best Christmas present ever! My cousin’s husband passing from brain cancer due to exposure to CLCW was approved SC by the VA! My cousin just got the word this morning. She called crying and screaming and laughing all at the same time, overjoyed.
You had a big hand in all that HAPPY! Thank you for your post on HADIT and that one line especially “if I can get a vet SC for glioblastoma for CLCW, and it isn’t on the list, then you folks can do it too”. Your words encouraged me to take it on!
Hours of sifting through research studies, writing a 3 page submission, with 214 pages of research attached did the trick. Also included as a separate page between the two was an 8X10 of Hank’s beautiful smiling face in full uniform.
So, thank you, thank you, thank you! I just had to let you know. ❤️
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!
I promised Patricia I would write an article about this because similar stories have given others reason to hope they can accomplish these miracles too. Helping Vets, or, on a more familial level, helping your relatives who are Vets, must be one of the highest callings of life. I’ve only had the opportunity to help two relatives and both were via marriage-not blood. Shirttail wins work for me. One thing we can take to the bank is that if Hank is looking down right now, he must have the biggest shit-eaten grin a Heavenly groundpounder can produce.
Congratulations on a job well done, Patricia. Would you give any consideration to the thought of becoming a VA Agent? It sounds like you have more than enough gumption to do what it takes to be one.
P.S. Sent an email to Patricia asking if it would be possible to publish a picture of Hank. Will include if I get one. Every picture tells a story, don’t it? Done. Attached in living color.