As most of you know, Jerrel is somewhat under the weather since his latest medical misadventure. We’re certainly hoping and praying he recovers from this one and remain positive for the moment that he will. I’m sure he’ll be listening in. Chances are wild horses couldn’t drag him away from the broadcast anyway.
Tomorrow’s show will focus on losing your vision. Oddly, I have two different Vets suffering loss of use of the eyeballs so I had to do a major regulations review to understand it better. As with anything VA, being blind is not necessarily being “VA blind”. You could certainly be so blind as to not be a candidate for even a self-driving Tesla™ but still not qualify for 100% blindness a la VA’s regulations. That figures.
My Vietnam Vet won it at 90% via his Malaria infection in-country that rolled his socks down for a few weeks and left him weaker than a kitten for the rest of his deployment. I had to resort to an extraschedular request to get SMC though. VA gave him 10% for the residuals for a year after he came home and then promptly reduced it to 0% without so much a c&p. That was pretty much par for the course back in ’70. Shoot. Virtually every old claims file I look at from that era reads the same. 0% for this and 0% for that. My buddy old Butch, who died back in 2022 was notable for getting a single 10% for his right arm- the one that was numb from the elbow down about 50% of the time. I got him bumped up on a CUE in 2018 to 20% back to 1970 but that was a fluke. They were trying to buy us off and make us go away. VA artificially fenced us all out of anything 30% or higher back then because they’d have to pay for the wifesan and the rugrats.
My other blind Vet Jimbo, who I wrote about recently, was denied repeatedly even though you wouldn’t want this guy on the street behind the wheel. We lucked out because I spotted the c&p from two years ago in VBMS showing he legally qualified as VA blind. For any of you wondering, that’s 5/200 or less bilaterally or concentric contraction of field of view of 5° or less-again bilaterally.
You’ll find out VA has all manner of different metrics for what they’ll concede as blind. For a single eye, you’d have to be at light perception only to get it. That’s SMC at the K rate. Think about that. If you were 5/200 or less in one eye (or had 5°< field of view), you wouldn’t get the Special K. Shut the front door. Likewise, you wouldn’t get the bump up to SMC N unless you had both eyes removed or didn’t even have light perception.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at VA’s niggardly attempts to lowball us on blindness considering your back could be toast and you’d only get 60% max. Or you couldn’t walk on a leg due to Diabetes peripheral neuropathy but were only rated at 40% because they didn’t consider it a total loss. They’d probably just give you crutches and tell you to drag it and suck it up.
Can you imagine a non-Vet VA employee with a ambulatory disability? Why, that sucker would be outfitted with everything and a wheelchair-friendly desk to boot. They’d make special accommodations for him/her and probably offer a bonus if they had the right pronouns.
Don’t get me started. I’m in a pissy mood this week since one of my Vietnam Vets got the denial of a lifetime on loss of use. Imagine being told you had to choose between being SC for peripheral neuropathy or Parkinson’s. Sorry, Charlie. Can’t get both because that would be pyramiding. Take your pick. Oh, bummer. You chose PN but you’re only 40% in the right leg and 20% in the left. Missed it by thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat much, Bubba. Come back before you die and refile. Maybe we’ll take another gander at it and re-lowball you. Or maybe not. Meanwhile, we’ll continue the Parkie shit for the saggy face (10% bilaterally), constipation 20%), incontinence (40%), swallowing issues (10%), aphonia (0%) and balance issues (30%).
I belong to a nationally recognized outfit who specializes in helping Vets but I’ve been admonished not to admit it anymore because it causes them embarrassment when I write articles here about my clients’ adventures in Southeast Asia and some of the names we used to refer to the enemy back then. Apparently their idea of the least offensive term would be “Captain Charles”. Revisionism in history is becoming all the rage. Kinda makes you wonder what Captain Charles’ pronouns were.
The same outfit I mention above suggests we never call the VA Secretary to vocalize our displeasure with what his minions cook up for our clients. Boy howdy is that a hard one to choke down. When your client is dying of a disease, you perform triage. You don’t go into some semantic diatribe and dance around waving the flag trying to get attention. You use every tool at your disposal RFN. The operable pronoun here is YOU. If that includes contacting Denis the Menace and telling him his employees are cheating and denying my boy illegally, then so be it. What’s the purpose of having his email if you have an emergent situation and you don’t make every effort to help? I lost a lot of friends over there but at least I tried with all my might to save a as many as I could. I could do no less now in these circumstances.
I sign my VA emails below my name at the bottom with “We are the “A’ in ICARE”. ICARE stands for Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence. Since VA considers us Agents and Attorneys shirtail VA employees and requires us to toe the line judicially, I think it’s only fair that we all kowtow to that metric. Advocacy to me means kiting an email off to Denis and spilling the beans when VA’s chuckleheads pull this shit. I ran a construction company for 30 years and went back to framing in the ’90s when I discovered all my boys were snorting coke on the job. I fired them. They thought I was a real sore loser and too strict. The last thing I’d want to be responsible for was knowing they were stoned and one to take a header from a 3rd story wall and eat it.
In war, you sure don’t want your buds all smacked out or jacked up on speed. You want them at the top of their game. I figure old Denis would want to know if his “little people” were engaged in mission creep. This is how Erik Shinseki got into deep shit. Nobody told him his flunkeys were cooking the books. President Obama didn’t let him slide on it and fired his ass licketyspit.
It’s like the Truman thing- the buck stops here. So you bet your sweet ass I emailed him-and the VARO director, the Coach who authorized the stupidity and my change management agent (CMA) who constantly admonishes me to contact her first to pass along any dissatisfaction I have with how they run their ship. I always get a return email from the Secretary’s gomer saying thanks for letting us know about it. I never get one from the CMA thanking me for bringing it to their attention. The Big Guy always says We’ll get back to you, hear? So if it was forbidden, I’d expect to get a demotion or booted out of VBMS for it. If it’s wrong and it works, then it isn’t wrong.
Back in the war, we had a problem up north on the other side of the fence. In the country that rhymed with Mouse, we were required to call in a TIC (troops in contact) to Cricket/Hillsboro and request permission to drop ordnance or strafe the bad guys. I was often faced with the proposition of having to wait for 30 to 45 minutes for the Ambassador or his Air Attaché (my boss) for permission to respond appropriately. That was known as the Rules of Engagement- or Romeos in our slang. I dang near ended up in the brig a few times for failure to follow that admonition. Dropping liquid sunshine (nape) was all but forbidden even in an emergent situation. That’s pretty much how I feel about this in the here and now. If all you have on your hardpoints is nape, then nape it is. Clear them in hot and save your folks. It shouldn’t even be up for discussion.
So I hope to discuss some of these subjects tomorrow with John and offer some advice on how to win your VA claims for blindness. Of course we’ll talk about a lot of other things and tell jokes. We always do. The call in number is still
That cute British gal with the accent is still there answering the call, too.
Or, if you are computer savvy, click on this link and join us about 1900 Hrs Easterly time.
We’d keep the lights on for you but Brandon just changed us all back to daylight savings time so there’s no need.
I was so blind in my right eye from a cataract that I could not see a stop sign until I was ten feet away. I went to the VA to get it evaluated and I was told I was not blind enough to get surgery. They did offer me glasses about half an inch thick. I got the surgery with no problem via SSA and my medical insurance. I got 40% for my right arm, 30% for the left, 40% for both feet, but I guess I will have to live with it unless I have total loss of use. I was already 100% before I got rated for the PN so I get nothing extra
I love you all. I know how you think about VSOs trained by the state, but if you can help me help them- I’m all for any ribbing you have. Information from this platform has been invaluable- I’ve been doing this for a decade now and “ boy howdy” you’re spot on. I’ve had you with me last 8 years, popped in when I can and always left with additional motivation and determination. I’m so glad you’re still here and I hope you will always keep those articles coming and podcasts/phone calls available for me to refer to when my thinking goes off track. I can’t even cover what a help you’ve been. I wish all of us thought that we are the “A” in the equation – not all are created equal.
They can’t holler at you, Alex, b/c you’re the peoples’ SECVA. You’re the only person who helps us with claims – there is no one else or website. It’s just you and USA Vets. You’re appreciated.