The weathermen (not the famed Chicago ones) hereabouts insist we’re having wild and wooly wx events I’ve never heard of in all my almost 72 years. Bomb Cyclone events. Snowmageddons. Atmospheric “rivers”. Sounds like these folks don’t get out much. I’m wondering what they’d call Monsoon on the Indochinese Peninsula. I’ve seen it rain so hard the wipers on my M 151 Jeep were useless. We stuck our heads out from around the windshield to see-sort of. If we got too close to the ditch on the right side, someone would yell. I could see the port side. Rain that soaked you through in 3 seconds. That’s why we put our government -issue rubbers over the barrels of our rifles. Wasn’t like we were gonna get any action where we were without ending up as the groom at a black powder shotgun marriage to a Hmong maiden. No lookee. No touchee.
Which, of course has nothing to do with Friday the 13th but I do look forward to some new action nouns strapped on to eeevil intensifiers soon. How about a bomb river? Or a cyclomageddon? Shit. The possible combinations are absolutely endless.
Today, regardless of whether VA chose it or the VBMS merely pulled this out the 499 Bingo hopper and randomly kited it over to VBA 344 (Los Angeles), my very patient gal Veteran finally got her longstanding claims adjudicated. What’s more, we managed to do in in under four years and without going to the BVA to win it.
Tabitha (not her real name) speared me when I approached the counter at the local USPS down in Key Center back in September of 2019. She worked there and I’d already done the Post Mistress’ husband’s claim several months earlier. Jez, I hope no one is going to show up and transwoke me for saying Post Mistress. No trans-evil intended. That’s what Dee-Dee called herself. I always subscribed to the Army motto- Be all You Can Be. Anyway, Tabitha was a Vet- get this- a genuine 31B10 MP. Eight years worth of chasing down AWOL and drunk SMs. She wasn’t any wimp either. She had two ARCOMS and a CAB so she’s not your run of the mill REMF in khakis.
By 2019, all that glow of combat got up and went and she was hurting. Funny thing is she came down with the asthma/burn pit shit big time and separated with a 30% head start over all the rest of the §1119 PACT Act folks. She also caught a case of bent brain and a shit ton of musculoskeletal disabilities from her MP work. We’ll forego talking about that and fast forward to 2019.
Basically, nothing happened. Crickets. I got the POA and did a records review and there wasn’t much to complain about. She had a couple of 30%s and a whopping 13 musculoskeletal Zeros for Heroes ratings. She said she didn’t really think her PTSD rating was too low. Then she moved back east just before the Pandemic and I honestly thought she was out of the picture. And then along came Corona, a lot of depression and dead relatives. Tabitha, however, worked for the USPS and she didn’t get to isolate. She went to work because the Post office never stops.
We all know what happens to the achy back or the ankle you rolled over on when you jumped out of the MRAP and landed on a bunch of shell casings. It was like ball bearings. Lather, rinse and season for 8 more years and voilà- time to file for an increase. Of all things, her back crapped out first and required surgery in late fall 2021. She called me when she got out of the VAMC. I filed her for that and all the big ticket problems back in January of 2022 while she was still laid up after surgery. Unsurprisingly, VA wasn’t in much of a giving mood. They coughed up a 10% bone for the back post-surgery and wouldn’t budge on the PTSD or the Headaches. I had to contact my secret weapon. Elaine is always ready to fight VA. She hates them far more than I do if that’s even possible. She used to work for them up until 25 years ago until she couldn’t bear it any more. That’s when she set up shop and began fixing Vets instead of bullshitting them and lying for VA.
Hey, there’s a time for bullshitting. When your friend is lying there asking for a smoke, you light one up for him. You gently stuff his intestines back in as best you can and sprinkle Sulfa powder all over the mess. You pull the poncho back up to hide it. You tell him the Dustoff is five minutes out and sit there and hold his hand. You talk about getting back to the World soon and how you’re FIGMO. Several minutes later, you put out his cigarette and pull the poncho up over him. To me, that’s the only time lying is permitted.
With IMO funds in short supply, I had to make a choice of which battle I wanted to fight- the headaches or the PTSD. We decided to go for PTSD because DC 8100 headaches maxes out at 50%. I called Elaine and fired up the IMO machine. I love the new world of Zoom. I merely wave my faery wand and a psychologist magically “connects” in the electronic universe with my disabled Vet. VA hates it but then they’re the very ones who inaugurated this “telemedicine” crap. Pretty hard for Mr. VA Pot to call Mr. Vet Kettle
black. Ooops. Sorry. Sorry. I meant call poor Mr. Kettle an unwanted, marginalized minority.
Today, I opened VBMS and what did my wondering eyes behold? Why, Tabitha’s rating decision which has been sitting in the VA’s EP 499 purgatory since 10/09/2022. It took them 96 days from the day it was declared ready for decision (RFD) to grant. That’s just no fair. No Vet should have to wait that long for a rater to get off they, their, theirs bonus-calloused derriere and do this. By rights, they ought to have a “Rocket Docket” lane as they did up at the BVA back in the good old cowboy days of Laura Eskinazi. If the claim is “done” (granted or denied) what’s the point of delaying the outcome? I’ve often wondered what Laura’s nickname was in the cloistered corners of the Chester A. Arthur Building at 425 “I” Street NW over near Judiciary Square. Just philosophizing. I hear there are a lot of skeletons judicially buried on the upper floors there.
Once upon a time, they swore to us that they would speed this process up so fast it was going to make our heads spin. The only holdup was they just needed more money for computers and warm bodies in order to digitize it all. 10 gazillion more employees later and untold billions spent on VBMS… and it took 323 days and two rating decisions -including a private IMO that flat-ass contradicted the cock and bull story from VA’s version of an unbiased psychologist- to accomplish what could have been done in half the time in 1994 without computers. WTF, over?
Whatever did we do to deserve this shoddy treatment? To add injury to insult, they sent my Tabitha out for yet anotherc&p just to make sure my private psych wasn’t trying to pull a fast one. Relax. I don’t use physicians on the VA’s sh*tlist. I hope you folks do realize this endless game of just one more c&p trying to get a negative nexus has been against the law for quite some time. —
Undoubtedly, further medical inquiry can be undertaken with a view towards further developing the claim. However, in this regard, the Court has cautioned VA against seeking an additional medical opinion where favorable evidence in the record is unrefuted, and indicated that it would not be permissible to undertake further development if the sole purpose was to obtain evidence against an appellant’s claim. See Mariano v. Principi, 17 Vet. App. 305, 312 (2003).
Anyhow, here’s the meat of it. We now have a 90%er on deck and when she retires, I hope to be the one to file her 8940 for IU. Congratulations Tabitha. I’m sure glad this is over for the moment. Even if the inflation keeps up, this will help to defray the expenses. You earned it ten times over. Thank you for letting me be your shield bearer. I mean that sincerely. One more starfish rescued and saved.