A good neighbor and client of mine passed. He had the devil’s own time getting a claim for combat PTSD in Vietnam in the plus column. He ended up finding all his letters he sent home from Cu Chi and submitting them to VA. It’s pretty hard to climb into your DeLorean with the flux capacitor and motor back to 1968 to create those letters so VA gave him the benefit of the doubt and said he was there.


John was a Marine. I guess I don’t need to say more. Regardless of your MOS, you don’t even go to the latrine without your M 14 and bayonet.

His wife has taken over his claims for R1 for the six short months after they found the acute B cell Hairy leukemia. We saw this coming and filed well in advance. Rest in Peace, John. I have your six on this one.

Posted in Milestones, Veterans Law, Vietnam Disease Issues, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“New” Agent Orange Presumptives Amendment–next stop, House leadership, then President Trump

Around three years ago, VA Sec. Doctor David Shulkin, on the basis of scientific evidence, was on the verge of rule-making in favor of adding bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like symptoms and hypothyroidism as service-connected presumptive AO diseases.  Shulkin was fired.  Since then, the Office of Budget and Management and VA Sec. Wilke have dragged their feet–waiting, some believe, for more afflicted Vietnam vets, to die off.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine ruled that “sufficient evidence” linking hypertension and Agent Orange also exists.

Stroke is also identified as associated with Agent Orange but not part of current legislative efforts. (Link GAO 19-24, Actions to be taken, page 75). Birth defects are still being investigated.

A Military Times article(10/23/19  Link) White House responsible for delayed decision on new Agent Orange diseases, provides redacted evidence to support their title.

This year, senators took up the fight with an amendment which made it out of the Senate Armed Services Committee for a vote.

On July 23, the Senate passed amendment S. 1972 96-4; it was added to a defense authorization bill, S. 4049.   Six Republicans voted against the presumptions.


Jon Tester (D. Montana) Press Release on his amendment

Schumer Press release (Link) explains the need.

“Schumer said if an Agent Orange-related condition isn’t specifically listed on the presumptive conditions list then the VA forces the suffering veterans and their families to argue their claim in a lengthy, bureaucratic appeals process that can last years and often end in a denial. In many cases the veteran will die before the process is even concluded.”

S. 4049, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Link)./NDAA.

Other sources of Agent Orange information:  ProPublica

News:  Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)

On a personal note, my late brother-in-law John, an Army Corps. of Engineers veteran, who served in Vietnam, was diagnosed with hypertension by the VA (CT).  Later, he suffered a heart attack at only 48 years old and died, leaving two daughters.  A talented man and great father, he never got to meet his future grandchildren.  He inhaled AO contaminated soil dust road-making and performing other tasks.  I have no doubt that AO killed him and thousands of other men and women before their time.

Government-speak in reports is exasperating.  In GAO-19-24, we learn that the VA and DoD subject experts are still trying to figure out how to determine what “location” means. But then, in 1977, barrels of Agent Orange stockpiles were burned at sea near Johnson Island.  AO barrels from Vietnam and Gulfport, had been stored there to leak and spill.

As burnt chemicals were released into the water and air, they polluted the lagoon and traveled far and wide via currents. Just great.  This toxic island has a long history of  extreme DoD polluting activities and is closed to the public.

To advocate–

Find your Representative by zip code (Link)

Campaign headquarters for Trump, and Biden, anyone running for office.  Where do they stand?  Don’t want to deal with staffers?  Send an email to political reporters asking them to investigate and get on the record comments. Governors.  We are talking over 83,000 veterans and their families who need help and running out of time.

Email: Veteran Experience Office,

DAV (Link)

Bladder cancer is a presumptive condition for toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune.  Sometimes urostomy and other types of surgeries are needed.  See VA Health Library article, Urostomy: Emptying Your Pouch

“You’ve just had a urostomy. As part of your surgery, a small opening (stoma) was made in your abdomen. Urine and mucus drain from the stoma into a disposable pouch. You’ll need to empty your pouch when it gets to be about one-third full. The pouch is likely to become this full every 2 to 3 hours. Emptying your pouch keeps the pouch from bulging under your clothes. It also helps prevent leakage and odor. You will use a different collection system at night so you will not have to get up to empty the pouch….”

Urostomy: Changing a Pouch, American College of Surgeons (ACS) Ostomy Home Skills Program, Youtube link.  ( Warning-a few graphic images.)


Search Google images for visual information with keywords, stoma, bladder cancer, urostomy etc..



Laura (Guest author)

Veterans have the right to benefit from science.

Posted in Agent Orange, AO, Blue Water Navy, BVA Purplebook, Congressional Influence, Food for thought, General Messages, Guest authors, Uncategorized, Vietnam Disease Issues | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Hepatitis C Market Report (Issue 1) from the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)

“We are in a new era of HCV control and optimism abounds.”

Harvey J. Alter,  2019 Lecture remarks 

Dr. Alter refers to the non-toxic Direct-Acting Antiviral (DAA) medications which have “unprecedented efficacy” cure rates of 95% to 100% (all genotypes) after 8 to 12 weeks of treatment. 

The high cost of medication in the US is reflected in the 3 Billion of dollars Congress authorized to treat over 180,00 veterans recently.   Not all veterans received treatment however.  This is the subject VA OIG 17-05297-85 Report: Review of Hepatitis C Virus Care within the Veterans Health Administration  (March 20, 2019)  (Link).

For the pdf. (44 pages) see  VAOIG-17-05297-85

The value of medication

It’s somewhat like a sellers’ listing prices for real estate or used boat sales.  The true value of something is what buyers are willing and able to pay.  Low-income countries can’t afford to pay US “retail” pricing so testing sellers like Roche, Abbott, Cepheid, Hologic have set much lower global ceiling prices and can negotiate even lower prices with poorer buyers.  This trend is stepping up because WHO’s Global Health Sector Strategy set a goal to eradicate HCV by 2030.  Some believe this is realistic even without a vaccine.

The CHAI Hepatitis C Market Report

By providing “…market transparency for key stakeholders, including governments,
suppliers, and donors…” CHAI hopes supplier pricing for drugs and testing supplies will help low-income countries afford treatment.” The CHAI report gives prices paid by public health programs via Global Access for inclusive testing products.  Currency exchange rates impact final costs. 

inclusive pricing Page 25.

Hepatitis-C-Market-Report_Issue-1_Web (61 pages)

CHAI reports that access to DAAs are now much more affordable in places like Rwanda; they were able to negotiate a 12-week treatment for $60.00 per patient--and without a volume purchase guarantee.  

Different procurement funds are used to get very low prices. p. 33


CHAI indicates that firm political will is needed to obtain very low prices. Price mark-ups in the United States and legal prohibitions show that its political will favors suppliers and and Congress, not citizens.  PACs are just too corrupting.   

For example

The list price for a 4-week supply of pan-genotypic MAVYRET is $13,200.00 (1/2020) and 8 to 16 weeks of treatment are needed.  Medicare Standard Part D beneficiaries pay the most (“$660.00 – 2,847.00 per month, depending on coverage phase”). 

Afflicted Americans live in a high income country and cannot participate in these programs.   Medical tourism treatment opportunities may be possible in some countries.

The Global Fund offers free online courses on their programs (Link).

The way the drug industry does business needs to be reformed.  We all know it. The CHAI Hepatitis C Report provides more evidence.  

Laura (Guest author)

Posted in General Messages, Guest authors, HCV Health, Medical News, research, Uncategorized, VA Health Care, VA statistics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment


Jerrell and John have graciously invited me back to their radio show for another hour or more of outlier insight on the latest prestidigitational feats of the Veterans Administration. The Kung Fu Flu (less syllables and rolls off the tongue more easily than COVID-19) has wrought havoc on the process of even getting a Power of Attorney filed and accepted.

As usual, the show is Thursday, 23 July at 1900 Hrs on the eastern seaboard and 1600 Hrs for the enlightened Left -including PDX.

The call in number has changed since Jerrell transferred the flag to Exposed Vets.

(515) 605-9764

Dial one (1) (nung)(un) if you wish to enter the conversation queue or ask a question of us but refrain from doing so if you only intend to listen. This prevents echo and feedback.

I hope to find you there.

Here’s the link to the show ( I think)

asknod was here


Pickles was here

Posted in Corona pandemic, Exposed Vets Radio Show, Humor, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Today’s Navy : Why NO gloves during these medical procedures?

Seeing is believing.  This was published by the Navy in 2020.

Image from June 30, 2020 US Navy COVID-19 Leaders’ Handbook, page 5 U. S. Navy photo by MC2 Robyn B. Melvin PDF below


Oct. 2019 photo: PRE-COVID-19 awareness-No.  Blood-borne virus awareness  (HCV, HIV, or HBV)-Yes, but ignored. 

191029-N-HC646-0010 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (Oct. 29, 2019) Hospital Corpsman Labrea Knight, assigned to Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor (NHCOH), gives a flu shot to Naval Aircrewmen (Avionics) Skyler Ng, assigned to Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit – Whidbey Island, on Ault Field. NHCOH medical department vaccinated shore-based military personnel onboard NAS Whidbey Island to combat the flu virus in order to maintain wellness and mission readiness. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marc Cuenca/Released)

“The Navy, which for months had the majority of the military’s cases, grew by 25 percent in the past week-and-a-half, to 4,591 total.” (Link to Military Times, 7/10/20).

Surprised?  This utter lack of hand hygiene and use of personal protective equipment during blood draws and vaccinations, like the above flu shot, will likely result in blood-borne diseases like HCV spreading over time.  Yes, even though the needle is not being reused, viruses can transfer from hands to openings in the skin, even eyes.  Furthermore, military COVID-deaths are rising.

This is EVIDENCE of a substandard of care in the Navy in 2019-2020 for the prevention of the spread of viruses.

The close-up above was on this official website, Amid COVID-19, seasonal influenza still a threat to force readiness, 4/29/2020. (Link):

But, don’t worry, be happy! 

Below, see a sweet arm bump photo about how to avoid skin-to-skin touching–social control, good advice or both?  Is contact tracing from active military deployed into the community realistic?

The public is gradually learning virus-talk and virus transmission concepts.  First Wave. Second Wave.  Super-spreaders. Epidemiological investigations. Predictive models and maps. Flatten the curve. Hand sanitizer formulas.  Lifespan of viruses on surfaces.

The Second Wave of HCV infections has been attributed to sexual contacts (MSM mostly) and dirty needles.  Mainly from illicit drug users.  Not much is said about drug diversion and other forms of health care associated transmission.   Dr. Fauci tells young people, “You are propagating the pandemic”(Link to 7/16/20 CNBC).   A set-up?

Will tomorrow’s vets, who, through no fault of their own (see above in-service lack of hand hygiene and PPE use), who come down with HCV, or long-term complications from COVID-19, be denied VA benefits like the Vietnam-era 1945-65 birth cohort? 

Laura (Guest author)

Defending the Homeland: Secretary of the Army recognizes BACH and 531st COVID-19 support, 6/15/2020. “U.S. Army Col. Brandon J. Pretlow, assigned to the 44th Medical Brigade, elbow bumps service members assigned to the Urban Augmentation Task Force as a sign of gratitude at the Javits Center in New York City, May 27, 2020. (U.S. Air Force video by Staff Sgt. Zoe Russell)”

Posted in All about Veterans, Corona pandemic, Corona virus, Food for the soul, Food for thought, Future Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, HBV, HCV Epidemiology, HCV Risks (documented), medical injections, Medical News, Military Madness, research | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment


Folks, I never thought I’d be writing this column. I no longer think of this simply as a blog project. By now, I feel I’ve earned the right to be considered a vocal, meaningful force for Veterans and an able advocate. I never rest on my laurels. To me, evolving like a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a resplendent butterfly is a given. Be all you can be and all that blather. As most know, the VA continues to metamorphose on a fairly regular basis, too. Isn’t it odd that they have to continually reinvent their ” litigation wheel” every six months in spite of having a claimed 96% accuracy rate? What’s wrong with that picture? 

If the state of America this morning upsets you, this column may cause mental trauma. If so, please move along and find lighter fare elsewhere. 

Hardhats de rigeur for “protest”

First of all, here’s a few things irking the living poo out of me. Kung Flu aside, all this brouhaha about protesting a hangnail/statue/word is getting a bit much. If you venture into downtown Portland tonight to truly “protest” (as opposed to armouring up, dressing in Ninja black, freezing ten bottles of water and loading your backpack full of M-80s), you can still expect to to be introduced to some pretty edgy law enforcement personnel who a) don’t really relish being there; b) might be sore from getting clobbered by that last water bottle that hit ’em upside their head; and c) are itching to hit something/someone back who gets in their face calling them untermenschen- or worse. Now, if your inner Karen actually demands you get in their face, I can almost guarantee you’ll be wearing that new cologne called Eau d’Stress that smells a lot like CS or cayenne pepper. You may even (gasp) get into a predicament that causes you bodily harm when you discover the lines of battle have changed and you are now unwittingly at the forefront and appear to have become their leader. Shit happens. I know that feeling. Every morning when we strapped on our 0-1 Birdog and took off for the PDJ and points east, I realized the “front lines” were about 76-125 klics to my rear. Going down in Indian country was a poor option.  Why this mental concept is so hard to assimilate for these young people is a generational defect. I know how I felt about Kent State and the massacre there. I had been boots on the ground a mere eleven days when that happened. I can’t say I wouldn’t have been there in the thick of it if I’d been attending college, but that was a fluke. I doubt anyone thought the Ohio Nasty Guard were going to suspend the ROEs.  No one in their right mind these days could be so naive as to believe the nightlife in Portland these days is ‘peaceful’ or violence-free.

Changing subjects, my claim to fame will always be capitalizing the ‘V’ in Veteran since the inception of my writing career for Tricia Lupole at VA has now even appropriated it from me. It was Tricia who invented the asknod moniker. Ask is simple. Nod is merely Notice Of Disagreement. Similarly, I don’t capitalize my website name as I’m not important enough to warrant it. With the recent capitalization of the letter B taking over the headlines, my choice was on point. Remember, we’re in the Woke world now, baby. Get used to it. One of my uncouth fellow Vets who is heavily decorated feels it would be equally woke to now capitalize the W in white based on a simple concept- not that All Lives Matter but that Life matters. God doesn’t pick and choose which color to capitalize. We are all his children regardless. So… subject closed.

Christopher David (left)

Yesterday, I read with horror the WaPo article about my brother Navy Veteran Chris David deciding to have a “dialogue” with a DHS “employee” about his oath of office. Hey, don’t take this the wrong way. I feel for him and sympathize with his desire to mentally come to grips with this new Portland paradigm. However, walking peacefully up to some untrained, overstressed security cop amped up on Red Bull and no sleep for the last week is guaranteed to have less than a happy ending. After 50-plus days, nerves are frayed thereabouts. Whatever the reason(s) for the initial fray months ago, that message evaporates with each succeeding morning’s dew. The article states Chris professes to be a Veteran of eight years and to have attended the U.S. Naval Academy. As a Veteran versed in the ways of war, he should have made a tactical decision not to try to conduct a survey with “the DHS man-on-the-street” with the bombs bursting in air. Poor timing, Chris. Personally, I send those queries to my Congressman. It’s less confrontational and you get more nuanced  dog and pony show replies. Perhaps even one of those TY4YS blurbs.

Our New AMA Paradox

Changing subject once again, and the actual reason for this article and title,  I find myself battling VA in arenas I never dreamed of now. Considering the new AMA was touted as the derniere cri to end all derniere cris before it, I find it a tremendous disappointment. An FNG GS-10 step 1 now has the same cachet as a 16-year veteran DRO GS-13 step 8. What? You want an HLR for your recent denial of a supplemental claim? Roger that. Mr. HLReviewer emails your rep (assuming you aren’t pro se) and says “I’ll give you ten minutes next Thursday when I call. It’s informal because we don’t have to do formal, recorded stuff anymore, Mr. Gordon.” Next Thursday, he calls your cell phone while you sit patiently in the office staring at the office phone you listed for the conference. A day later you see the 21-0820 and the new denial in VBMS. You email this joker, explain the f/u and ask for a do-over. Sure, cowboy. How about  I pencil you in for September 23 at 0800 EST(0500L on the left coast). Ad nauseum. Accountability and the nonadversarial ex parte system have now similarly evaporated and the essence of ennui and ‘Idon’tgiveashitism’ have set in. Truly invested employees are becoming the exception rather than the rule. Worse, the hierarchy encourages them like supercharging kids with megasugar-infused candy bars before going shopping at Walmarket®. It’s a vicious cycle. The more they are encouraged to misbehave, the more emboldened they become. Now I have GS-9s writing denials at Ft. Fumble in Jackson and Fort Pea Gravel, Arkansas denying my clientele with killer IMOs. Worse, the denial is predicated on the wrong legal standard of review. When I complain to the Appeals Management Office (AMO) (formerly the Appeals Management Center or AMC) which was just reanointed  as the Office of Administrative Review (OAR), I was referred back to the same idiot whose Coach denied me. S/he calls them up to inquire if that is still their considered decision. End of inquiry. I just get a new “Yep. Stilled denied. TY4YS. ” Changing the name of the AMC reminds me of poor old Hansel and Gretel and their breadcrumb trail. Do they think that by changing the name all the time that we won’t be able to find them anymore?

We’re living in precarious times. We’ve been lucky with this democracy project for over 200 years. They say the tree of liberty has to be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants to keep us free. I don’t think Tommy Jefferson espoused that platitude referring to the present situation. Up is down these days. Wrong is right. Bad behaviour is ignored- or worse- condoned by inaction. The First Amendment only applies to the ‘woke’ among us. If your concept of equality clashes with mine, I have the right to “protest”. I can deny you your right to voice your opinion. My protest opinion might get a little physical. Deal with it. While I’m protesting ___________ (fill in subject(s)), I am free to smash Azos  Jeweler’s display window at 4th and Main and “liberate” a few baubles. I’m poor and protesting costs money. Why not? They just looted Wendy’s and the 7-11 up the street. Helloooooooooooooooooooo?

Obviously, I’m not going to change the world. I rarely venture off the VA reservation to opine on life. I have been debating how to address this conundrum for weeks. America deserves better than a bunch of disaffected, underemployed live-at-home snowflakes with an exalted opinion of their own self-worth telling us, the great mentally unwashed, how we’ve gotten this sooooo wrong for centuries. The entire concept of us as Americans being a part of a whole and not individual, autonomous islands of entitlement has swung precariously 180° into troubled waters. I don’t expect to wave the magic asknod wand and make it all hunky dory. I don’t think they sell gunsha that powerful.

I once jokingly wrote about how one day they might suggest  the feasibility of tearing down the Jefferson memorial in DC based on ol’ Tommy’s racist proclivities  in Charlottesville back in the day. That joke isn’t so far-fetched this morning now is it? As for tearing down or removing all these statues, why is it that America gets to tell southern states what is or isn’t politically correct? Let us never forget President Andrew Johnson granted a pardon to the “traitors” who, by virtue of their birth, were forced to side with their state and brethren and fight that war on the ‘wrong’ side. A Virginia Confederate battle flag seems to have become the equivalent of demon rum to the Prohibitionists; a red flag to a bull. We should think long and hard about that. I was born south of the Mason Dixon line and lived the majority of my life there prior to enlisting in the military. In all my life, I  never heard anyone advocate for a return to slavery. I don’t think you could find anyone today who feels that way. We all have our unpleasant moments we would rather put behind us. Reigniting racism is pointless. Burning down the house is not the way you rid it of vermin. Outlawing the display of a flag is like King Canute commanding the tide not to come in.

Now, as for changing the name of every Army base in the South based on the name being a Confederate traitor, please mansplain how that is going to magically eradicate future problems with bad cops who abuse or kill black suspects in their custody a la George Floyd? 99 out of 100 of you wouldn’t know who General Bragg was so it would be tantamount to finding some important black legislator named Bragg and naming it after him now. You could call it Fort Fumble and it wouldn’t really change the world.  Tell me how burning down a Wendy’s in Atlanta is tit-for-tat for the cops killing that poor Rayshard Brooks? The guy who owns Wendy’s didn’t kill him.  I will never think that killing the poor man was  okay, but by the same token, I was taught that when a cop says “You’re drunk. Turn around and put your hands behind your back”, the correct action is to do the handcuff Macarena. Taking his taser away from him and trying to shoot him with it is a Bozo No-No where I came from. I probably wouldn’t have shot the poor guy-maybe winged him. That’s a product of how cops are trained. In war, we were taught to shoot to the center of body mass but nobody ever told us to empty 20 rounds into them. This spray-and-pray technique of shoot ’til they quit moving is insane. There used to be a time when gun control meant being to put a bullet where you aimed it. This morning I read that a Seattle cop accidentally killed his partner while shooting at a bad guy from inside their vehicle. One of his bullets hit his partner’s gun and ricocheted back into the buddy’s noggin and killed him. Look at the Chicago fiasco back in 2017. Four cops shot their guns dry at a poor unarmed black kid running away. 64 rounds fired and 9 hit the boy. That’s pathetic-not to mention defying the law of bullet trajectory probability physics.

Remember old Rodney King after he got the tar beat out of him by cops?  Even he came forth and tried to quell the ensuing riots. Where is a man with the moral fiber of Martin Luther King when we need him?  Content of character over the color of a man’s skin? We will heal some day. Until then, I strongly beg all of you to remember the Golden Rule. It’s time to sky down and disengage. Put on happy face mask for a month or two. It won’t kill you. Folks down in Southeast Asia have been doing it for centuries to stay alive. Be nice. As my Kindergarten teacher admonished us at Northside Elementary in Albany, Georgia in 1956:”Be a do-bee, not a don’t bee.” We, as a society, have devolved into a self-centered hoard of Karens. Our respect for our fellow man, let alone his entitlement to a certain opinion, is disappearing. Everyone is entitled to an opinion- but only their own. Let’s keep it that way. Talk about something else. Protest the weather . Blame it on Trump. Or Bush. Dealer’s choice.

The cancel culture is going to soon become a runaway locomotive destroying our ability to sit down and have a nuanced discussion that stays on subject. If all we can think of  is the next “gotcha” and our 15 minutes of Warholian Faceplace™ fame, we doom this great country to a majority consisting  of the fringe minority-those who can gain the largest audience of  like minded social henpeckers obsessed with embarrassing their neighbors, a lady with a dog off the leash or a politician with a contrary view. We’re better than that. Or we were once.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that. I’ve probably already said too much but then, being born on April First has its advantages- it makes you a fool before you open your mouth and remove all doubt. Well, that and being born with Tourette’s syndrome… Hoo doggies.

And heeeeeere’s Pickles in her new Pickle pool.

17 months old

Posted in AMC or ARC, Complaints Department, Corona pandemic, Corona virus, Food for thought, Inspirational Veterans, KP Veterans, Pickles, VA Agents, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

US Space Force (USSF)

Air Force Academy cadets prepare for graduation (April 17, 2020). They will begin “careers in the Air and Space Forces as second lieutenants.” AF photo by: Trevor Cokley

The COVID-19 pandemic has not put a dent in the organization and mission activities of USSF, our newest (6th) armed service branch.

Eighty-six graduates, out of 967, were “…moved directly into the U.S. Space Force, (Link) marking the first infusion of commissioned personnel into the new service since its creation last year.”  And later, over 8,000 airmen volunteered to join the USSF; 2,410   were selected.

U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2020 graduation in Colorado Springs, Colo. AF photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis Hoffman

Space Force used a special King James Bible for the oath, outraging the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in language that is so familiar these days (Link).  To, founder Mikey Weinstein spewed anger over what he believes is a violation of church and state separation:

“The MRFF condemns, in as full-throated a manner as is humanly possible, the shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy, dominance, triumphalism and exceptionalism which occurred at yesterday’s ‘blessing’ at the Washington National Cathedral.” 

I, for one, am tired of all the over-the-top rhetoric that we hear today. Weinstein is quoted as calling the bible choice as a “… blatantly scurrilous activity” and an example of  “Christian privilege” in the DoD.  He may be right but chill already.  Exhibit some emotional control.  It’s not required reading.  Here is the Army’s Oath (Link):

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

The Constitution protects free speech rights of course.  But not the violence, property damage, and looting we have seen in Portland, NYC, Seattle, Minneapolis and other places.  The contrasts between photos of the wild-eyed young protesters versus the disciplined military youth is sharp.  It’s anyone’s guess how this will all end but I think the above named cities will have a tough time attracting new business or tourism for years to come.

Meanwhile, the Space Force, is appealing to a different type of idealism in their first recruiting advertisement.  Can’t miss the cool factor in this video.  But this is not Hollywood; it’s about defense, warfare, logic, and real-life dangers.

These men and women are tomorrow’s veterans.  It’s difficult to imagine what their needs will be when they transition to civilian life but a hostile American society, Congress, or VA should not be in their future.

Laura (Guest author)

Posted in All about Veterans, Food for the soul, Food for thought, Future Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, Space Force | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Congressional Research Service (CRS): VSO revelations and questions

As Alex has noted, only a few staffers in any particular VSO office are accredited representatives.  This has been a surprising revelation. The information is included in two recent CRS reports.

Veterans Accredited Representatives:  Frequently Asked Questions June 25, 2020  R46428  (Link) or

R46428 PDF-14 Pages

Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs): Frequently Asked Questions,  Updated June 26, 2020  R46412 (Link) or

R46412 PDF-8 pages

Note: CRS reports are prepared at the behest of congressional members and can be accessed via this search engine:

or, “For an index of CRS products, click the SEARCH button without entering a search term.”  These summary reports contain “breadcrumbs” to other places to look for in- depth reports.

Oddities include statements like this footnote: “8 CRS has a nondistributable, archived report on congressionally chartered organizations, RL30340…” however this report is archived by North Texas University library and probably others (LINK).  Or the actual pdf: years old  RL30340_2011Jun17 ,

A few quotes to ponder:

From R46412–

“…Not all recognized VSOs provide accredited representatives to represent claimants. The recognized VSOs that do not represent claimants must illustrate how they will inform veterans of the limited services they can provide, as well as how they will advise veterans on how to find accredited representation….Accredited representatives who work for VSOs may not charge their clients fees. ” p. 3

“…VSOs may receive funding from state, county, or private funding sources. They may also receive federal grants to support specific activities…” p. 4

“…there is no uniform requirement for all VSOs or all congressionally chartered VSOs to submit reports.”  (To the federal government) p. 4

From R46428

“All accredited representatives … are accredited through VA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC), have completed specific, VA-approved training, have access to claimants’ records,  are authorized to upload relevant documentation into VA databases….”
In contrast, congressional staff are not authorized to access VA claims files or upload documents into VA databases on behalf of claimants. 4 In addition, congressional staff are not subject to OGC oversight. … but they may not represent claimants before VA.

Congress wants to change this.

“Legislation in the 116th Congress has been introduced to allow nonaccredited representatives , such as congressional staff, access to veterans’ records (H.R. 628). 

In addition, in response to a proposed rule to rescind the 48 hours currently
 given to accredited representatives to review claims determinations (85 Federal Register 9435, February 19, 2020), legislation has been introduced to require this access (S. 3761).”

How many veterans think that going to their senator’s staffers is going to solve their claim problems, only to have the VA write a letter to the senator stating they, the VA, is correct in their determination regarding said veteran?  Even experienced staffers with good intentions spin their wheels as they encounter VA’s many schemes and mazes.

However, it would be better if they turned over tough cases to those trained to give the VA the evidence it needs and have access to the system.  And politics and privacy–should not become entangled in benefit claims.

One needs breadcrumbs when entering the forest dark…. Image: Wanda Gag, Grimms Fairy Tales, clip.

What about the free rent some VSOs receive?  It is mentioned but not explained.

Alex has explained that it is now much harder for a veteran to navigate the system alone.  Trying to figure out the correct forms to use alone is difficult.  And an IMO is now essential putting ill veterans, short of funds, in a terrible position.  The questionnaires vets could give a private doctor, have been removed.  However, there existed a deceptive double standard with regard to the questionnaires anyway.  Contracted C & P examiners were given longer, more comprehensive questionnaires for the same conditions. (Alex Graham podcast, 1/20).  Those in-house questionnaires are the forms veterans must be given if they cannot afford thousands of dollars on professional, detailed, IMOs.

So we still must clamor for reforms and transparency, not only for the oldies, but for younger veterans who should be spared further injustice as well.

Laura (Guest author)

Posted in All about Veterans, Complaints Department, Food for thought, Future Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, Lawyering Up, research, Uncategorized, Veterans Law, VSOs | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Recession Has Hit Women the Hardest; Here’s How to Recover

Women already face more employment-related challenges than men, but the recession has brought additional worries. What does the recession mean for a woman’s ability to help support her household? Here, we’ll look at what’s happening in the current economy and a few ways women can start earning income from home.

How Are Women Faring During the Recession?

Many wives may be at a loss as to how they can contribute financially to the household. After all, more women than men have lost their civilian jobs during the recession, notes NPR. Plus, PayScale confirms that for every one dollar a man makes, a woman makes about 81 cents. Even as a military spouse, financial security is a concern.

Although there are many benefits available to senior veterans, active duty families may find fewer assistance options. At the same time, having children and maintaining a two-plus-person household might require more than your spouse’s income. Fortunately, there are many ways for spouses to become work-at-home wives and moms.

Job Solution 1: Go Freelance & DIY a Career

Whether you had an established career that the recession nixed or you’ve been a stay-at-home mom, leaning on your strengths in the freelance field is an excellent move. Think about the work-related skills you possess—like great organizational abilities or fast typing speed—and choose a freelance gig to suit. You can work part-time or even go full-time, all from home.

For example, many women become personal assistants in virtual roles. If you have past clerical experience (or you can build such skills quickly), working from home as office support is ideal.

Another option is to become a blogger or freelance writer. Blogging affords you a ton of flexibility, but it also involves some up-front costs and can take a while to become lucrative. Freelance writing, however, involves showcasing your writing abilities and pitching to clients. Depending on your experience, you can set your writing rates at a relatively high hourly rate, too.

Whatever your area of expertise, choosing a freelance gig ensures ultimate flexibility and allows you to work no matter where you and your family are stationed.

Job Solution 2: Find a Remote Employee Gig

Since remote work is ideal for military spouses who may be facing a move mid-recession, a telecommuting role is essential. As CNBC explains, many big-name corporations hire remote workers from all over the globe. Companies such as Appen, VIPKid, Williams-Sonoma, Humana, and Dell all routinely hire workers for telecommuting positions.

If you have experience in a specific industry, such as language teaching (VIPKid) or healthcare (Humana), you have even better odds of netting one of these versatile roles. Regardless of the industry or job type, you’ll need reliable Wi-Fi, a decent computer and a way to protect your devices. Plus, some industries require additional equipment or software.  

The good news is that with many corporations, you can work full-time hours and even receive benefits. You can avoid dealing with self-employment tax by accepting a formal job offer as well, while freelancing requires you to handle accounting on your own.

Job Solution 3: Turn a Hobby into Paid Work

Odds are, as a woman with a career, family, or both, you have at least a few passions outside of work and childrearing. Think about your hobbies, and you will likely find there’s something you already do that you can monetize.

For example:

  • If you enjoy crocheting, you can crochet items to sell through an online handmade-product platform like Etsy.
  • As someone who enjoys baking or cooking, you can prep meals or baked goods and sell them. Think about busy families who need heat-and-eat meals or neighbors who enjoy sweet treats.
  • For hobby photographers, taking photographs and selling prints online (or pitching to a site that buys and sells photos) can prove both lucrative and enjoyable.

Of course, if you don’t yet have a hobby that can help pay the bills, it’s not too late to learn.

Worrying about finances—or the future of your career—is no fun. Especially during a recession, navigating your way around working from home can be complicated. Fortunately, there are countless opportunities for women who are willing to put in the effort.

Posted in Guest authors, Women Vets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hepatitis (HCV) extrahepatic manifestation: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Those paying attention to HCV infections know that the virus is a leading cause of  hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).  Less well known, is that HCV can cause another cancer:  B-cell Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (Pubmed -Link) (Pubmed-vet study 2007).

My old Marine has three risk factors for NHL.  He has a history of HCV infection (SVR with interferon treatments in 2004). He lived at Camp Lejeune (NC) (Link: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is presumptive condition); he was exposed to Agent Orange (AO) as a combat Marine in Vietnam, a presumptive SC condition (Link).  Yet, we don’t think he has ever been screened for NHL. If so, why not?

According to the American Cancer Society, there is no routine screening for lymphoma.

“Screening tests or exams are used to look for a disease in people who have no symptoms. At this time, there are no widely recommended screening tests for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This is because no screening test has been shown to lower the risk of dying from this cancer. Still, in some cases lymphoma can be found early.”

This “…in some cases” policy is completely wrong.  By the time lumps can be felt the disease has progressed. Hardly an early or timely diagnosis of a blood cancer.  Prognosis? Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles) states:

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

In the past 10 years, this disease has become easier to treat as more procedures are found to be effective. Overall, 50 to 60 percent of patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma now live five years or longer without a recurrence.

If a veteran has one, two, three and even more risk factors for lymphoma, screening should be mandatory and frequent.

Veterans know that standard medical history questionnaires do not ask about their military service histories (VA and private).  And yet, even if a veteran has not been deployed to a war zone, he may have served on one of the Superfund military sites, or Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS).

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has published an excellent booklet (revised 2020) on NHL that offers many specifics we need to be aware of (Link).


The Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) is aware of the Agent Orange risk but does not mention Camp Lejeune in their 158-page booklet, Understanding  Non-Hodkins Lymphoma, a guide for patients, loved ones and survivors.  (Link)


I emailed them with links about the Camp Lejeune exposures and have an received an acknowledgement.  LRF is a very well connected non-profit in the private care medical world but not with VA-based expert advisors.

So veterans, families and friends, we need to talk about pro-active NHL screenings as a war-related and military environmental hazards illness, as well as an extrahepatic HCV-cancer, with medical and veteran influencers and practitioners.  The current screening policies for at-risk patients must change.

Laura (Guest author)


Posted in Agent Orange, All about Veterans, AO, Camp Lejeune poisoning, Food for thought, Future Veterans, Guest authors, HCV Epidemiology, HCV Health, HCV Risks (documented), Military Madness, non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, non-va care, research, Uncategorized, Vietnam Disease Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment