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

COVID19LEADERSHANDBOOK_V2

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 Health.mil 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

#VAISOVERPARTY

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 HCVets.com. 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 Military.com, 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:  https://crsreports.congress.gov/

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 Hadit.com 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).

NHL_Booklet_2020FINAL

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)

NHL-Booklet_July-2018 

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

Happy July 4th: Our Mt. Rushmore Celebration

Screenshot 2020-07-04 at 2.17.42 PM

Screenshot of fireworks livestream,  Keystone, SD. July 3, 2020

 

For those of us who didn’t win a lottery ticket to see the fireworks, a link to the video is still up at travel South Dakota Mount Rushmore fireworks.

They start at around 8-minutes in with patriotic music and narration.  We are living in strange times so I’m glad the National Park Service decided to go forward with something normal and beautiful.  (The whole event is on C-SPAN in HD video.)

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln are currently on the “bad guys” list among certain subsets of Americans; good luck trying to destroy these massive sculptures!  They are a reminder of the importance of viewing people in the light of their historical contexts when making social judgments.

President Trump’s full Independence Day remarks can be read on C-SPAN (with HD video) or the Whitehouse website.

Let us also send our deepest thanks to our wonderful veterans, law enforcement, first responders, and the doctors, nurses, and scientists working tirelessly to kill the virus. They’re working hard. (Applause.) I want to thank them very, very much.

The Star-Spangled Banner,” our currently controversial national anthem, played by the Air Force Band, begins after 14-minutes. Those present stood, shoulder to shoulder, sans masks.  I’m not scandalized.  Joyful Melania, Donald and citizens were donned in upbeat red, white and blue.  The “Salute America” fireworks begin at 1:34:59.  Enjoy this traditional show on C-SPAN and your holiday weekend.  (Laura, guest author)

Ft._Henry_bombardement_1814

“O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…” Image: Wikipedia

 
 

Posted in 4th of July, Food for the soul, Food for thought, General Messages, Guest authors, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

LZ CORK–LOOKING FOR TRUTH AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME

Boy, howdy, if you live in Houston, you’re in for a Miriam Webster revision. As of download6now, you no longer have a four bedroom home with a Master bath/spa. Negatory. It’s now a Primary Bed/Bathroom. I’m wondering on how that plays out if you have a Masters in French Lit. or your car has a Master cylinder or  God forbid… the Masters Tournament. You almost get a glimpse of where this train wreck is headed. I’m waiting for them to decide the Statue of Liberty is passé and has to be toppled. 

Every morning you’re going to have to wake up woke and ask Alexa what the latest revisions are to publicspeak. Well, fortunately it hasn’t come to that just yet in the universe of Veterans Claims… or has it? Imagine if you will… No, not Rod Serling. Imagine you’ve landed where you are in Butch Long’s shoes after 8 years of claims preparation, filings, appeals, hearings, c&p exams ad nauseum, and you finally have a soapbox from which to speak from to folks who will really listen (CAVC).  Normally, I would be worried that I might draw a “hardass” Jurist who isn’t Veterancentric. But here, in the instant case, it’s a tearjerker like Queen for a Day. How could so much shit befall one Veteran? What are the chances of the Army forgetting to tuck your STRs under your leg on your Medivac stretcher? Or forgetting to award you your medals and then getting shafted by the VA for lack of the very same?

2downloadBut then, like a Country and Western song, you finally get your medals. You find and submit the old STRs and get rated up the bazoo for more metal than Dorothy’s friend the Tin Man and…and… and… VA says “Negative copy. We reconsidered under §3.156(c)(1) but there was nothing there to change our minds. Oh, yeah, we did find a CUE back to 1970 for 10% on the right arm but we fixed that. Here’s $45 K.  And just because we’re such swell folks, we’re also gonna toss in an extra year of tinnitus back to March 2014 for a buck 25 a month under §3.114(a). How ’bout them apples. Huh? Shit bubba. You can dine at Applebee’s© for a year with the whole damn family on that tinnitus money alone.”

Right. So, we file the VA 9 and say §3.156(c)(1),(3),(4) about a hundred times in person and on paper to the Veterans Law Judge.  13 months later (advanced on the docket no less) she opines that §3.156(c) is inapplicable as she can’t “see” any informal (or formal) claims made and everything was granted back in ’70 so no dice. Okay. Put on the law helmet, padawans. The #1 legal error is the local NWQ Fort Fumble says they reconsidered it under §3.156(c) and it didn’t change their minds on what was awarded and how much in 1970. This is a positive finding of fact. I know. It sure doesn’t sound positive but the negative outcome re reconsideration is immaterial. The local yokels decided  §3.156(c) was indeed applicable but wasn’t a game changer. But, the VLJ now says “Au contraire, ma cher. §3.156(c) is not applicable”. Alarms have to go off because you cannot undo the reconsideration-assuming  you believe in the tooth faery- that they ever did a recon on it in the first place. Admitting a reconsideration took place under §3.156(c) lets the camel’s nose in under the tent. There’s no backing up even if no change in the decision occurred. The BVA is where you were supposed to get a de novo look again at the reconsideration-not a denial of the whole regulation’s applicability and, hence, no decision at all.

Medrano v. Nicholson, 21 Vet.App. 165, 170 (2007) (“To the extent that that determination is favorable to the veteran, the Court will not disturb it”.)

So, now, at the Court, I am forced to reconstruct the crime scene. The Secretary is free to rebut Butch’s story but Butch is a combat Veteran now. He wasn’t one back in 1970 when they rated him because the medals were never on the DD 214. All the medrecs from the time the mortar hit until he arrived at Letterman Hospital in Frisco over a month later were still sitting in Camp Zama, Japan. With the addition of not only the medals granting presumptive exposure to concussion blast trauma, but the new (old) STRs, you can open up 1970 again. Or not, according to VA. Butch and I never figured VA would roll over like a dog and let you scratch their belly. Now that they tossed him that CUE bone for 10%, he is (was) rated at 20% in 1970. The reason they aren’t caving in on §3.156(c) is simple. Add even one more 10% and you have a 30% total. Bingo. A spouse and four children is a chunk of dough from 1970. VA wasn’t going to piss on this fire and call in the dogs until they were sure we were going to give up. Maybe they think just because I’m not an attorney that I have shit for brains. Maybe they figured the Court could never unravel it. Who knows?

We have filed our appellant’s brief and The Secretary has filed the Appellee’s brief. Ruh-oh, Rorge. Rough sailing ahead…

Long Appellee’s Brief 19-7301

It’s clear they have no idea what this claim/appeal is all about nor how §3.156(c) works. Viewing the history of CAVC/Fed. Cir. precedence, we have Vigil, Mayhue, Cline, Pacheco, Blubaugh, Emerson, George  and maybe Kisor to date. Each has contributed something to the interpretation of how §3.156(c) works or refused to elaborate. Virtually all of them involve using the JSCRR to locate a stressor event for a PTSD claim or a CUE. Personally, I don’t know how that applies. If you filed in 1970 for anything MDD, you’d still need an IMO-be it private or from VA shrinks- to prevail. If you didn’t have the dx of MDD until 1998, then you can’t get the EED of 1970 if you didn’t have a DX back then. I suppose you could get a IMO from a good outfit that would do a retrospective Dx. This filing was sanded and honed to a fine polish from 2012 to the present. Each filing was considered like a chess move. The object was to create a unique confluence of evidence and claim filing. The next project was to infuse it with equal parts of  §§1154(b);3.156(c)(1),(3),(4).  Lastly, it is presented to the Court as a fait accompli. There is nothing left to argue.

I have to be honest. Medrano protects Butch but this §3.156(c) business is an art form. I always teach folks to keep a few extra hand grenades just in case they need them late in the battle. Here. we’ve kept any Medrano arguments out of the Court stuff. If we have a panel and an Oral Briefing, we can spring it then.

Back in December 16, 2016, when I realized we were sitting on 103 pages of new §3.156(c) STRs, I went through and selected the most probative ones. I saved back about 45 of temperature charts and debridement notes, diet charts etc. VA never even went back to see if our records were legitimate. They just accepted what I submitted. No PIES requests. Nothing. Thus, we still have another hand grenade we can always use. Most importantly, though, I was planning the filing of Butch’s TBI with headaches in conjunction with when I submitted the new STRs at the upcoming formal DRO hearing with hearing transcript. That DRO gig happened on February 22, 2017- George Washington’s birthday. Butch’s TBI  w/30% for headaches decision came out May 8, 2017. The effective date was, of course, December 16, but when you get to the Court, the fact that the rating came out 76 days after the new STRs hit the claims file makes it look like §3.156(c) was implicated in the rating.

54006190_10157122298392359_444007551487442944_nThe biggest error is going to hurt. The author of the Appellee’s brief colored outside the lines. She said Butch was a liar, liar, pants on fire. That’s a big Bozo No-No in Vet law. If he was guilty, it would be okay to say it politely. But, on the other hand, if you are a heavily decorated, highly disabled Combat Veteran in a wheelchair, your opponent’s exculpatory evidence must be of the highest calibre or they’re gonna be taken out behind the woodshed for some wall-to-wall counseling. §1154(b), the combat presumption accorded our Veterans, says anything that comes out of your piehole with regards to how you got f—-d up and what disabilities it caused afterwards, is golden testimony unless you start talking about the alien abduction stuff and that brain control module they inserted in your noggin. VA needs some mighty powerful mojo and good, written evidence to show you can’t be trusted to brush your teeth unsupervised. If you do not have “clear and convincing evidence” to call Butch a liar or a malingerer, then you have to shut up and sit down. The last thing you want to do is start stuffing words in his mouth he never said. VA sure can’t say that money is creating bias in your combat-protected testimony. When anybody does this, they get sanctioned. When you get sanctioned, it casts a negative pall over all your arguments. It makes you look like you’d do anything-including cheating-to prevail and get Butch denied.

In my book back in 2012, I tried to teach Vets that timing is everything. Continuity is imperative. In this case, I baited the hook to see if VA would strike. In late 2014, I mailed  in Butch’s new DD 215 showing the award of a Purple Heart Medal retroactive to 1969. We heard nothing but crickets. By rights, under §3.156(c)(1), the Seattle Puzzle Palace was required to dust off the old 1970 claim:

Notwithstanding any other section in this part, at any time after VA issues a decision on a claim, if VA receives or associates with the claims file relevant official service department records that existed and had not been associated with the claims file when VA first decided the claim, VA will reconsider the claim, notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section.

VA ran into a roadblock in Emerson v McDonald by saying any prior claim to be reconsidered had to have been denied before §3.156(c)(1) kicked in. In this case, the VLJ said all Butch’s claims had been granted and there was nothing to reconsider-formal or informal. Again, this is the wrong legal standard of review. “At any time” means even if we find more records or medals again in 2035, we still get a reconsideration of it. The outcome of the original claim is immaterial to the point of the reconsideration. The new records automatically pull the hand grenade pin on any reconsideration. Thus, when I submitted proof of a retroactive Purple Heard Medal in 2014, VA was automatically required to pull out Butch’s claims file and take a gander at what his combat posture was in 1970 and reconsider the 1970 claim. It would be error not to. And, once again with the submission of new personnel records and another DD 215 showing the Combat Infantryman Badge with the new reopening in March 2015, VA was yet again required to reconsider 1970. And, yet again in October 2016, with the submission of the General Court Martial records, yet another §3.156(c) reconsideration was required. The big document dump at the DRO review on February 22, 2017 was to really impress these folks with the applicability of §3.156(c)(1). Not one decision from the reopening to the last in 2018 mentioned any reconsideration of the applicability of §3.156(c)(1)-let alone (c)(3) or (4). The Court is going to notice this. The Court is also going to spot that Seattle professes to have done the reconsideration.  The new George v Shulkin (Wilkie) decision in March of 2020 points out the discussion in Vigil v. Peake about there needing to be evidence of a reconsideration in the record. Just saying “Yep. We reconsidered it.” without some blatant evidence of same is not sufficient to prove you did any recon in the Court’s eyes.

I’ve been watching how §3.156(c) jurisprudence has progressed for years. Each new panel decision spoke to a new facet but none have the absolute shotgun effect of four successive infusions of new STRs  in short order with zero results. Most importantly, no precedential decisions to date have stirred §1154(b) into the stew to see how it cooks off. Each introduction of new §3.156(c) evidence was timed to coincide with a rating decision pertinent to what the new evidence was going to provide. Thus, showing exposure to loud, concussive explosions  was needed to prove tinnitus was service-connected. But  even more so, Mr. Long had to prove the tinnitus was caused by a concussion or a head injury. By the §1154(b) presumption from the CIB award, Butch’s testimony that his tinnitus was loud and constant must be granted credence now. That, in turn entitles him to a 10% rating in 1970. Combined with TBI/ headaches at 30% and the recent eye injury award of 10%, which began also in 1969, VA owes old Butch a 60% rating with spouse and four children from April 29, 1970 to about March 30, 2015, where he was granted his TDIU. That’s really why this has turned into a cat fight.

This all hinges on a good reply brief describing what the evidence really says. Forensics is everything in this business. The trick is synthesizing/condensing it down to 15 pages. Et voila:

Long 19-7301 Reply Brief

And here’s the smoking Rosetta Stone to refer to:

Long 21-2545 C&P Page 1

The booth bitch at the OGC insists Butch never said “I have ringing in my right ear”. He did. Even worse, he said it under color of §1154(b). You can’t throw Shade v. Shinseki on that. Worse, by saying Butch should have claimed tinnitus et al by writing them all down as claims if he wanted them ignores the very evidence he did.

PHT012651-1_20141110.jpg

Leroy MacKlem

P.S.On a final note, I found out via our illustrious internet that Leroy MacKlem passed away in 2014. How sad. He fought for years and had finally won his CUE back to 1950. At least he won before he punched out. I’m praying for the same for Butch.

https://asknod.org/2011/09/27/cavc-macklem-v-shinseki-leroy-macklem-come-on-down/

We now await the Court’s next move. If you wish to watch this develop, go to http://www.uscourts.cavc.gov/ and click on docket search in the lower left.When the ECF Docket pops up, enter 19-7301. Click on the name Long and the whole docket, including all these briefs, will appear. Single click on the little Microsoft Word Doc icons to open each document.

Life is good. Cupcake and I are taking our summer vacation at home this year due to this Kung Flu. We spent our COVID 19 rebate $ on a ce-ment pond out back for Pickles. A Labradog needs a pond to fetch properly.

P.P.S. Today ( 6/29/2020), the Court clerk assigned Judge Michael Allen to the appeal. I couldn’t be happier unless they had assigned it to Judge Greenberg. Judge Allen was the one presiding when they swore me in.

Posted in 1154(b) combat presumptions, 3.156(c), 4th of July, Agent Orange, All about Veterans, ASKNOD BOOK, CAVC Knowledge, Corona pandemic, Inferred claims, Informal Claims, KP Veterans, Lay testimony, TBI, Tips and Tricks, Veterans Law, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

EXPOSED VET RADIO SHOW TODAY

Sorry for the late notice. John and Jerrell have asked me to do the show with them this afternoon. Same old drill. 7Pm for the East coast and 4 pm for the Left. Figure out where you are in the middle and add or subtract to get the desired time.

It also appears WordPress has changed my settings and I can’t find anything . At any rate, the show number is

(515) 605-9764

 

Dial 1 to enter the conversation queue.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE MULTIFACETED ASPECTS OF CUE

I get a bang out of all the questions I get regarding Clear and Unmistakable Error. While I have written numerous articles on the subject, I get a lot of duplicate questions as if I’d never answered them before. Even more concerning is that there is so much disagreement on the subject -even among those who practice VA law for a living. With the advent of the new AMA, it is even more confusing in spite of the fact that  nothing of consequence has changed.

As most know, it makes no difference which form  you use to file. I’ve used all the new forms and VA personnel have demonstrated they have no idea what to do. Everything has to be on an approved VA form except a Motion to Revise. I have no doubt that will change some day soon but for now, you can file on a paper towel as long as it has all the metrics identifying you and your purported  error-or what you perceive to be error.

I read some of the big VA attorney websites regarding CUE and am appalled there are not better explanations to describe all the different possibilities regarding CUE. If I find myself with extra time to burn, I like to go to the BVA website of appeals decisions and read more on the subject. While there certainly is a wide variety of adjudicative error, and more yet since the inception of the AMA, in truth there is only one form of CUE. Quite simply, it is a glaring error that reasonable minds have no problem decyphering. The ingredients have not changed. The statutes and regulations have not metamorphosed and segued into new interpretations. No, the identification of what we characterize as “CUE” has evolved into new interpretive terms. No longer is it a “rare” error as postulated in Fugo. Let’s analyze this.

First, a true CUE is something that has transpired which is wrong. The big fork in the road begins with whether it happened yesterday or in 1970. If you just got a decision denying service connection for Hep C based on your cirrhosis and VA says you had one year to file for cirrhosis when you got out, it’s a brand new CUE. This is not the end of the matter. What you do not want to do is file a Motion to Revise the error. That’s foolish. VA has a provision for you to write them and ask them to correct it pronto without litigating it for 8 years.  The M 21 covers this contingency in M21-1, Part III, subpart  iv, chapter 7, section B(3)(a) (requiring correction of errors on the rating codesheet, including disability evaluations, effective dates, and diagnostic codes); id., sec. B(3)(c) (requiring referral of an erroneous decision “to a decision maker to issue a new decision” once an error has been identified).

An antique CUE is a decision that is final. If you were denied for something in 1970 and just discovered VA made a mistake, you can file a Motion to Revise the error. As per law, you must find a specific error of contemporary law committed in 1970 or evidence, as it was known, to have not been before the adjudicator. Either error will suffice. Following that test, you must show that the error manifestly changed the outcome. This is why you sometimes hear the legal standard of review as an ‘outcome-based’ decision.

Okay, let’s add a wrinkle. Let’s say you filed in 1970 and lost. You can see the error and you want to fix it. Let’s say they read 38 CFR wrong. But hold the phone. You refiled for it in ’86 and lost again. If you filed a NOD and lost at the BVA, that’s all she wrote. Once you go through the appeals process and lose, that CUE theory is dead as a doornail. Or is it?

Here’s another wrinkle. Assume all the above is true. You go over the whole claim stream from 1970 to present and discover that VA also didn’t have all the records back then. You can, by law, file a new Motion to Revise based on a brand new facet of what you perceive as CUE. As long as it is a brand new theory, it is permissible to file anew.

Here’s a wonderful case study.

Johnny Vet comes down with Hepatitis (not otherwise specified) when he gets out in 1970. He’s within the magic 1-year limit so it’s gotta be SC, right? It might be A or B. It might have been C but that won’t be discovered until 1989 and testing won’t begin until 1992. Johnny finally gets out of the hospital and  around to filing -but after a year has passed.  VA denies but they have no records. Johnny doesn’t appeal and it dies. He refiles in ’86, ’94 and 2006. He loses each time and never appeals. Finally, in 2012, Johnny comes to me and we start chopping down trees to make enough paper to argue this. I refile it and get a nexus. Johnny finally wins 100% P&T but with a 2012 effective date. We file a NOD and scream CUE in 1970. This begins a new claim stream.

I discover he’d filed just outside the one-year limit but he contracted it within the magic one year. The BVA judge says no CUE. Go home. I’m ready to throw the towel in. When I began, I didn’t have access to VBMS. If I’d waited for the average year to get his c file, his CUE claim would have been done before I got it. Now, with VBMS, I spot a document (the very first one) showing that while he was lying in the VAMC hospital bed, some industrious VSO had filed an informal claim within that magic year. Thus, the 526 which appeared to be after the one year limit is actually legal and preserved his informal claim. Based on this, I refiled a new Motion to Revise(on a 526). Well, you know the VA bozos. They look at that filing as the wrong form because Johnny has already filed for this CUE once. I refile on the 995 to appease them and they deny saying “Sorry. You didn’t file any new and relevant evidence to support your 1970 CUE claim.” Well, duh. You are not allowed to do that. You have to explain it based on the existing record. Somehow, this escapes the rating wizards. Sending in a note saying they did it wrong using the above M 21 cite went unanswered so we’re now at the BVA again. The good news here is that I got Johnny advanced on the docket so it won’t take 4 years. I doubt he’ll be alive in 2024. He’s on Nivolumab® and we’re hoping it will give him a few more years before the liver box folds up and calls it quits.

Most all VA attorney websites describe the CUE process as a one-shot deal. They fail to realize that no two Veterans claims- let alone CUEs- are identical. I try to explain that to any who will listen but it seems to go over their heads. Most VA attorneys refuse to do CUE claims because the success rate is so low. I think the truth is that it’s too complex and they can accomplish three claims for increase in the time it takes one CUE claim to be adjudicated. Given that, and the misconception that you only get one bite of the apple, is reason enough for most of them to turn you down. I guess I’m different. If there’s a case for CUE, I’ll take it. Some of mine are still awaiting a Travel board hearing. My oldest was filed in 2016 regarding HCV. I had a hearing set up for May 7th but the coronavirus put the kibosh on that one. I’m now promised an August date.

After doing this continuously for almost 12 years, one thing I see over and over is something that greatly disturbs me. As most, if not all of you, probably know, asknod.org is unique in that I do not use the “Forum” model. A forum is open to all to put in their two cents worth. This is admirable and allows all the members to contribute their experiences as well as seek information on how the process works. I have pointed out above that no two claims are alike so any advice offered by John or Jane Vet is based on their own personal experience. If they failed to get an independent IMO and lost for many years, that might not be included in their advice. If they had a VSO who “misplaced” their evidence and it took three more attempts to summit Mount VA, they might not share all that with you. A forum allows everyone to commingle their knowledge unfiltered with little or no legal advice. When this happens, Veterans can be led astray and make horrendous mistakes based on erroneous advice.

A blog model of VA help such as this one teaches you the actual legal rationale for why you will succeed or fail. I spent innumerable years chasing the VA Holy Grail and failed thrice. On the fourth try, I began to take notes and research my failures. The BVA decisions website was the Rosetta Stone. There, I learned the concept of the Caluza triangle. It was so simple I wondered why no one-no one- in any of the Big Veterans help sites had even bothered to point it out.  The Veterans Benefits Forum (VBN), admittedly one of the “Big” sites, even had a former VA rater who had retired and was now a Veterans Service Officer. One would tend to trust him of all people to give good advice. One would also be wrong if s/he surmised that. The advice was astonishingly wrong and misleading. His grasp of VA law was nonexistent inasmuch as I consider the M 21 to be pure fiction. Nevertheless, he was the go-to guru.

I made a great effort to point out the errors of law and ask for the legal justification for the former rater’s statements. I was rewarded with being banned for being argumentative. I still am to this day. I wear it as a badge of courage along with my lawsuit for slandering a certain Veterans Service Organization in 2015. I admit I’m somewhat sarcastic and can rub folks the wrong way on occasion. My rationale for being argumentative is simple. I hate to see anyone lose at this VA poker game. I want everyone to be a winner so my advice is not to demean anyone but to make their trip through the process smoother and more successful. Based on the fact that my success rate is 100 % to date, I don’t think my technique is in error. I will admit I lost one this spring. The Vet asked me to file him for Ischemic Heart Disease due to Agent Orange. I presumed he had the medical documentation to back this up. He used the VAMC exclusively so I relied on all that evidence to be readily accessible. It was. The problem was elementary-he had a left upper shoulder muscle strain and what he diagnosed as IHD…wasn’t. VA denied him and I felt pretty stupid. I can’t count that as a loss, frankly.

Which brings us to today. Apparently I have upset yet another Big Vet’s help site by trying to offer sound legal advice. I readily concede I see the controversy. One person offers his or her sage legal advice based solely on their experiences and extrapolates that the reason they won is based on ____________. I merely point out the legal standard of review, why the process worked for them (or why not) and am ostracized for demeaning the individual or somehow lessening his/her contribution. If I apologize, even that fails to right the perceived slight.

Offering advice appears to be becoming passé.  In the Forum model, everyone is entitled to an opinion regardless of how inane or incorrect it may be. To correct anyone is seen as gauche. Sadly, for me personally, giving advice is a character flaw. I’m lazy. I can’t represent everyone in the Vet world so I offer the DIY method to help as many as possible. My failing seems to be carrying my epistle to other Vets help sites. Actually, banning me from offering advice is refreshing. All Forum sites have this mechanism (banning) in force to prevent folks from purposefully ‘flaming’ others and inciting verbal riots. With the blog model, I merely report what I have personally encountered in my defense of others’ claims. I cite to the laws I have relied on. Since I have experience based on many thousands of Vets’ claim/appeals rather than just my own, I bring an untainted, generalized perspective to the table. But- and it’s a big but- I do not censor anyone. I do not ban anyone. If you have a disparate opinion, you can always find a berth here and espouse your philosophy. My only codicil is that you stick to 38 USC and 38 CFR as it is written. Precedence is king until, or unless, it is overwritten.

My daddy once said “Fortunately, son, we live in America. You have the right to remain stupid. No one- not even the Encyclopaedia Britannica- can take that away from you.” Controversy in this business should be welcomed. If everyone used a fork to eat peas, no one would ever respect the individual who came along and introduced the spoon to the project. In the same vein, if any of you have a new, improved method to dig a good VA punji pit, I invite you to share it. I try to do this as soon as I discover them. I do not have “pay walls” to access any books to teach you my technique. I don’t have an endless supply of manuals for $49.95 that will lead you to VR&E success or TDIU Nirvana. I already wrote the most important book of all-how to win.

I will miss offering advice on my friend’s site but respect her and her members’ wishes.  The last thing we need in this business is dissension, anger and unhappiness. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

 

Posted in All about Veterans, Complaints Department, Corona virus, Food for thought, KP Veterans, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments