“[At the start], I was more optimistic. I knew it wasn’t going to be a two month ordeal, but then after all this time … my optimism flat left.”

That’s what one Veteran told us about the appeals process for Veterans’ claims. To better understand how Veterans experience the process – how the process fits into the context of their lives – a group of six researchers spoke at length with 92 Veterans whose service spanned the periods from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, that report prepared by VA’s Center for Innovation is being released. What it found is consistent with a process that is 80 years old – the length and amount of labor is cumbersome and frustrating.

The current appeals process was established in 1933 when hospitals were few, most care was provided by house call, and medical records were virtually non-existent. Today, increases in medical knowledge, clinical practice and the acceleration of the modern world have slowed the appeals system to a crawl as it struggles to keep up with expanding mandates, legal requirements and documentation.

Researchers used human-centered design methods to understand the needs, behaviors and experiences of Veterans during the appeal process. The team spoke to Veterans at every stage of the process, from those receiving their initial decision to those with final and complete results from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). Some were new to the process. Others, such as those who had just had their hearings with the Board, were years into the process.

Their research identified five key themes surrounding Veterans’ needs, perceptions and expectations during the appeals process:

  1. The length and labor of the process takes a toll on Veterans’ lives.
  2. Like in the military, Veterans care deeply about the outcomes of other Veterans.
  3. Veterans feel alone in a process they don’t understand.
  4. The appeals process feels like a fight.
  5. Veterans want to be heard.

These insights from this report can serve as a guide across VA for a redesign of appeals and related services to better meet the needs of Veterans and their families.

The status quo isn’t acceptable for Veterans or for taxpayers.  As VA has increased claims decision output over the past five years, appeals volume has proportionately increased. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of pending appeals climbed by 35 percent to more than 440,000 and that number is projected to continue to increase throughout 2016.

The appeals process should, in theory, be one of the most applicant-friendly systems in the world. Instead, it ranges from depersonalized and arduous, to hostile and belittling. Absent new approaches that permit appellate review to be conducted in a complete and timely way, even the best efforts of VA and VSO employees are unlikely to be able to meet the challenge of tomorrow.

The time to modernize the appeals process is now. We must begin an open and honest dialogue about what it will take for stakeholders to provide Veterans with the timely, fair and streamlined appeals decisions they deserve.

With challenges to the current model only increasing over time, we have an opportunity and an obligation to contemplate a future that meets Veterans needs and expectations in a timely and customer friendly way. While none of us may have the answer on our own, we believe that together, we do.


The VA Center for Innovation identifies, tests, and evaluates new approaches to efficiently and effectively meet the current and future needs of Veterans through innovations rooted in data, design-thinking and agile development. Find out more at http://www.innovation.va.gov/.

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Published on Jan. 19, 2016

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233 Comments

  1. Charles W Stecz February 1, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    16June2015 I had a VA Comp. Eval. for PTSD AT Pensacola Clinic.
    8July2015 VA Regional awarded 0% for my PTSD stating I did not require continuous medication and not being treated for PTSD.I see this as incompetent or just plain lazy. You see at that time and at the present time I am still on medication and seeing Dr. Moore a Psychiatrist at the Pensacola VA. You all need to check your own records.
    17 Sept.2015 I appealed 0% comp
    10Nov.2015 VA awarded me 10% based on Chronic Sleep Impairment and Symptoms Controlled By Continuous Medications .This statement comes under 30% as described in the VA letter.
    See Schedule of Ratings -Mental Disorders.

  2. KH February 1, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    I’m a new VA employee learning about the world of appeals. I can say that I’ve been very disappointed in the appeals process and just how complex it is. It’s heartbreaking when a form is automatically disqualified because a box isn’t checked, or we need a new form from the veteran because it’s only good for a year, or when we have to put a claim on hold for another month because we never got the complete set of Service Treatment Records. I’ve become frustrated as an employee, so I could only imagine it from the veteran’s side. After reading this article and the subsequent comments, I am deeply humbled and motivated to do better.

    My advice to anyone going through the appeals process (and the same advice I’d give a friend or relative) is to read every letter the VA sends you thoroughly and make sure you understand it. Make sure to fill out every form the VA asks you to fill out no matter how many times they ask you to do so. Some VSOs can be helpful with this. Keep copies of everything. And probably most importantly, make sure to call the VA ASAP if you change your address or divorce/lose a spouse.

    It breaks my heart to hear how the VA has treated veterans when we’re supposed to be your best advocates. Please know that some of us at the VA really do care about veterans.

  3. Craig Peters January 30, 2016 at 1:45 am

    I separated in December 1992, (base closure / reduction-in-force). I attempted, for several decades, to have my back injuries rated as service-connected. I had a thoracic spine injury prior to military service. I received the required medical documentation from my provider prior to entering active duty. I claimed that my pre-existing, fully-recovered, thoracic injury was aggravated by military service. This claim is denied because it is a pre-existing condition. Seems to me the VA is not even following, or reading, their own guidelines for service-connection. It is as if the VA has a “DENIED” rubber-stamp just waiting to slam down on any claim I make, regardless of the documentation I provided, per their guidelines.

    I have undergone a two-level fusion surgery, L4-S1, on my lumbar spine. I am continually denied due to “pre-existing” conditions. As I understand it, the phrase, “…caused by, or aggravated by, military service…” is used in service-connection determination. I obtained the required documentation that stated I was “Worldwide Certified” due to the thoracic spine injury, which was fully recovered/healed. My lumbar spine injury was NOT a pre-existing condition, and every time I request service-connection, I am denied because of a pre-existing condition. During my VBA hearing, the judge had no documentation from my physical therapy sessions. I provided copies of this “missing” documentation related to my lumbar spine physical therapy while on active duty, and was still denied service-connection. I am now undergoing more physical therapy for an issue at the L3-L4 location.

    This is just a sampling of how Veterans are treated during the claims process. I am in the process of contacting a lawyer to assist with my paperwork and claims. The DAV has helped prepare and submit paperwork in the past, yet I am still denied service-connection.

  4. Jay L. Hall, Jr. January 29, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I appealed a Hearing Loss claim and my reply was: Do you want to question our decision. I just gave up. Also, I was sent to Temple VA for a CT Scan, they did not get the line in my vain and it went into my arm which blew up and burned. My VA Doctor told me to get a copy of the CT Scan. I tried about 10 times, but never got any results. I just gave up. To top all of this off, when I joined the Navy a I was told that I would have Lifetime free Medical Care, this did not happen either. I have to pay for my medicines and services.

  5. cow boy January 28, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    There are many considerations with an appeal. Perhaps that is the problem. Anyway here is a breakdown of Must Dos: Do have a POA or attorney to assist you. State and National organizations (DAV, PVA, etc) will assist you at NO cost. A (VA certified) attorney will only be paid if you are paid. Do file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) on Form 9 within 60 days of a denial (but at least within a year of the date of your receipt of notification for denial) IF reconsideration is not an option, and annotate on Form 9 a local hearing. That way, if you are denied by local hearing officer at the VBA Regional Office, then you can continue your appeal to Board Of Veterans Appeals (BVA). By continuing to prosecute your claim (appeal) and you are granted SC, your grant will be effective the original date of your claim. I agree that the VA needs to FOCUS on hiring veterans, especially in VBA. I personally witnessed far too many non-veteran employees, new hires, and certainly a plethora of very young non-vets at mgt level (GS13 and above). If nothing else, please remember to procure a Power Of Attorney (POA). You can find them resing within the VBA Regional Offices. I am retired miitary, retired VBA Rating Specialist, and now work with an attorney on appeals that are mostly cases that should be granted without need for appeal because Hearing Officers and Raters are not thorough and are ‘under the gun’ for indiv production and quality stats. Drive on and God Bless. UA Army Retired

  6. Edward C Martinez January 28, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Lots of nice feel good stuff. But the truth is nothing has change. VA just has better BS writers with pretty and nice feel good stuff to say to keep the dogs from barking so much.

    I submitted a Claim in 2008! still no response.

  7. John M Lalli January 27, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    I am a Vietnam Veteran spending almost 13 months in-country–in every corner of that country, continually exposed to Agent Orange. I have been suffering from chloracne/acneform disease (butterfly rash on my face!!) as well as diminished lung capacity (I am a lifelong non-smoker) who my Doctors says is a result of Agent Orange exposure. My claim was denied even though supposedly Agent Orange claims from in-country combat Vietnam veterans are almost unilaterally accepted (supposedly). All that VA positive ad stuff is only hype. My subsequent appeal has been ignored, including supplemental evidence appeals–totally ignored except I got a response offering life insurance I would have to pay for–imagine that? They know I am going to die so want to offer life insurance. I can’t afford a lawyer and I have been dealing with all the paperwork directly with the VA myself as can’t afford an advocate either. I wish John McCain was President–I was in Vietnam same time as he but fared much better getting back to the US notwithstanding my resultant debilities. They don’t care–I have to give up and stop hoping–too tired to fight them anymore

  8. Tim Lully January 27, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    What I want from the VA is results and actual treatment for what I know can be fixed so I can go back to work. AND… I DEMAND IT. This happened to me over 25 years ago in training. I have had enough.

  9. Milton o pereda January 27, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    My appeal has been about 5 yrs I get the same paperwork like clockwork every year asking me to fill out a form on whether I prefer a personal BVA hearing or one telecommuting. I of course chose telecommuting as it should be faster. When I went to my 1st hearing I had a very rude person trying to get me to do something impossible for my condition. As suspected the hearing was unfair. Do they get a commission on how many people they either turn down or unfairly rate? I know there has to be a solution to the appeal process it’s incredible how unprofessional the process is.

  10. Ricky January 27, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Serving in the Air Force for years I came to realize that, in the time I had served, there were no females present. This seems to be a Clear and Unmistakable Error, CUE; on the DOD!.! ;)

  11. Garold Laetare January 27, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    I filed and 3 or 2 years past the ,phone number that is question works sometimes or not at all ,
    When you get thought and leave a message for someone to call ,not replay all .
    From the office in Des Moines.
    The rep. that is sign for you at the VVA CHAPTER #490 you leave messages and not one calls.
    Until you receive the paper work you have be denied and could re appeal with no help.

  12. Wilbert Joseph Celestine lll January 27, 2016 at 1:58 am

    the first time I applied was 1985 a year after I had discharged from eight years of service still heavily hung ho.at 25 years old I moved on with the pain after being denied an attempt to refile claim of my injuries a confirmed diagnosis of PTSD involving death of 17-year-old young Marine I was inches from saving his life,1978 rifle range. being driven off of a mountain range by a young corporal from the multiple within seven days he received the bad conduct discharge for being under the influence at infantry training school in a three-3 tons ammo truck without a seat belt 1984. Torn rotator cuffs, fractured vertebrae the basin of my skull, tailbone and number six vertebrae bone on bone at 40% my diagnosis equal 100%I have two more surgeries pending, pain pills no longer work, I rarely sleep I’ve been the appeal process for over 3 1/2 years I’m no hero but I did my part. respectfully submitted United States Marines

  13. ROGER L. JAYNES January 26, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    It’s time for the VA to stop their long process for getting what the United States promised me 50+ years ago, I have tried to get all my benifits since 1990 and have only managed to get 40%. I’m not getting any younger nor will I stop trying to get what is owed to me. I can’t understand why it takes so long, may be that the ones who determines your eligibility should be a veteran who knows what we are going through. I have PTSD, also sleep apnea, I have not had a good night since I joined the service in 1968, Is there any way to get a quicker decision, on my part I have gotten a Partial decision. but have not gotten the full percentage.

  14. Thomas Frederick Hilton January 26, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Imagine at age 68 you learn from your civilian doctor that your service (Navy) repeatedly (for 32 years) misdiagnosed a severe disease (ankylosing spondylitis) and called it lumbosacral strain — and the VA went along with that in assigning my disability. Imagine that you have submitted new documentary evidence,and were prepared to show x-rays from way back in time when with the correct diagnosis on them. Then imagine that the VA merely patronizes you. That was my recent experience

    I submitted my streamlined “fully developed” claim requesting reconsideration of one of my original VA disabilities to include a more severe condition. After months of waiting (so much for streamlined), I got a letter to report to the VA for examination. I walk in the door only to learn that I would not be examined for condition in my new claim by a doctor. A nurse would be re-examining my lumbosacral strain. I could not believe what I was hearing.

    The nurse gave me what amounts to a Miranda warning that anything I say or do will be taken down and used as evidence to reject my claim. I asked why this examination was so adversarial. No reply. I asked what the point of such an exam was, as my claim was for ankylosing spondylitis. That was clearly stated in my claim and in supporting medical records submitted with the claim. I said that I should be seen by a reuhmatologist. The nurse instead called security. The cop told me to get reevaluated for my back strain or hit the streets. I elected to go through the motions. In the end, VA increased my compensation which was, of course, is merely deducted from my DFAS pension. What I wanted was care for my condition – not money. No care has ever be offered for my condition. After all, it has not yet been found to be service connected, because no VA doctor has ever evaluated me.

    At some point, you just stop knocking at the door. I guess VA prefers that TRICARE pay for my treatment.

  15. Lemuel Clayton Bray January 26, 2016 at 9:19 am

    The process won’t work until it is recognized that the same injury affects a Category I inductee differently than a Category III inductee. The loss of a leg that prevents a category III from operating a bulldozer limits his opportunity for a good paying job where as the same injury causes little loss of employment opportunity to a desk jockey.

    We have the data available to do the research this problem and fix the compensation outcomes. But there is the continued wink and nod disability rating regulations that are not strictly adhered to because the VA has to fight the military industrial complex for budget dollars.

    For example, for those of you who have had p. falciparum malaria, (I didn’t), there is a bogus study that is used to deny you compensation. That compensation would run about $500 per month on average for about 100,000 veterans from Vietnam alone, not counting WWII and the Canal Zone.

    That is $50,000,000 per month or $600 million a year in military industrial contract money that gets moved from the military hardware side of the budget in the minds of many legislators to the military personnel side of the budget. In 5 years that is $3 billion that the military industrial complex is willing to spend millions to keep those billions on their side of the budget.

  16. Michael W Bresnahan January 25, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    I was told I could stay in and get a medical or go ahead a take the 39-10 and file when I got back to Louisville KY. When I got back to Louisville the records weren’t there yet but was told they should be there shortly. Well that was in 1974 and the only records I can find is everything except the ones I need. I have tried and tried for years to get all the records to no avail.
    So you should get your medical records before you get out, don’t trust them no mater how good they make it sound.

  17. Jeffrey Hutchinson January 25, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Forgive my attitude, I am just frustrated with the process going on 2+ years only to be told to file my appeal to Washington but that could take up to a year and a half for them to decide. Long story short, tore my ACL 1986 in the Air Force, they cleaned it with a surgery. Surgeon wrote for that they will have me back to repair it. They never did! My fault of these years I assumed you had to be in a war and or conflict to be eligible for VA benefits. So I signed up 2= years ago, filed a claim including ALL my military records, reports from the surgeon, etc. Well the VA in the Tampa area declined it NO PROOF. Filed again NO PROOF of the injury happening in service but GAVE ME 10% FOR ARTHRITIS in my knee. LOL true story I submitted the surgery pictures, surgeons report, the base, dates, times, etc they still said no proof, it didn’t happen. So I guess they think I was a civilian who walked in and had knee surgery LOL. But again they awarded 10% for arthritis in the same knee. Well VA if it didn’t happen in the Air Force why would you award me 10% for arthritis? Now I have to wait another year plus for Washington. The VA rep from Florida can’t believe what the Tampa area VA has been saying, its a joke! I did all the leg work, documentation, reports, xrays, MRI’s. Their response it didn’t happen and “IT HEALED” seriously they said it healed. Medical 101 torn ligaments do not heal, re-grow back to together. As a Vet it feels like some paper pusher kept saying NO to try to save money and hope I give up. Silly him, I copied all documentation and forward them to ALL Florida Senators and Representatives and Washington. Another disgusted Vet.

  18. Harvey Smith January 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    I have been in the appeals process fro three years. My current service related conditions have worsened. I complained to the va and now it appears they are avoiding any treatment for my service connected disabilities and only providing treatment for non service connected disabilities. Are the doctors and medical personnel at the va that vindictive or unethical?

  19. Paul E Walters January 25, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Interesting reads, though most are in the same reasoning. I recently filed for review of current award.(10%) given 45 years ago . I never said a word! Never complained I just carried on in life, as My father and Grand father had, both infantry. Went on probably overly educated. kept busy.
    I had a second injury, I never complained until recently, but I did have field Photo’s from RVN. When one is in the field mixed in with another unit, there are no files! You get patched up and that is that! And then the fungus sets in for life. I do not belong to veterans groups and I did not use videos etc to fill out the forms nor receive coaching. I just sent in what I had some photo’s etc. Commander recommendations for Valor I never received. (Company Clerk Killed) well if your a bonafide civilian DOD or VA you have no experience, has been proven in Court many time. I was well received by my local veterans Hospital, they looked at my old wound and my new claim concern. A podiatrist, looked at my photo’s ant put it all together. You have lived with this incurable fungus for 45 years? I told him I was denied treatment in 1970 because their was no record, so I just lived with it and never brought it up again. Funny I was asked about my rating, you receive 50% No I said,. then 60 % No! How about if I told you 10%. and he fell over! I have really enjoyed my interaction with the staff, I also feel I do not fit in, I never wear jeans etc I have been asked, are you going to a party?
    I receive several calls a day from Law offices and Legal advisers. One is American Veterans Legal Counsel. Obviously someone within the VA system is making Payola for veterans Information! Not so private.

  20. Carl Butler January 25, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Maybe Congress should go 1st into Wars,
    No one that did not serve should be in congress.
    You do not have the Honors to deiced if a soldier gets his or her benefits.
    Remember he sign a contract and he or she did honor it. Every Veteran should get what is due to him by Law.
    It’s in Black and White and you do not have the right to changed it. You send them and you should pay for his injures.

  21. R. Langenhan January 25, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    As a Vietnam veteran, I concur with many of the comments concerning this report. I too are in the midst of the Appeal process and when viewing the Report, I noticed that my particular region of the country was not included in the report: OAKLAND REGIONAL OFFICE. Southern California was not represented either. Why didn’t anyone of the reporters poke this bear??? Anyone care to venture a guess?
    My dad was a vet that served in the Marines in WW2 and the Phoenix Vet Hospital told him to have his teeth pulled, but inasmuch as they did not have a surgeon on Staff to perform the operation, he should have it done in the private sector.
    The bill came and the VA refused to pay for it stating he didn’t get a second opinion before having the surgery. He lived on oatmeal for the next 12 months and “Gunny” died at age 65-who cares about the wounds he suffered at Guadalcanal or Tarawa-and this was years before the whistleblowers at Phoenix VA Hospital.

  22. john gasior January 24, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    veterans are doing their patriot duty to GOD & country, not like politicians who have the pleasure sitting on their six, and enjoying the results &sacrifices from the veterans, very few politicians now never were in the service.

  23. Daisy May January 24, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    I have PTSD/MST my claim was denied now on appeal through DRO. I am being treated for PTSD but have to get an appeal? This is insane. Should never have joined the military. Was treated more as a sex object than an equal. VA needs to change how they view female and male victims of MST.

  24. Anthony Toich January 24, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I have been fighting with the VA since March of 2013 regarding a reduction in my service related disability for an arthritic right hip. My disability was being reduced because the range of motion in my hip had increased. Of course, it had increased because I had it replaced. I submitted all the medical records regarding my hip replacement and a notice of disagreement to the VA which was ignored for over 6 months. Despite numerous attempts from my VFW rep, we could get nobody at the VA to acknowledge receipt of the records or take action on them. The deadline given by the VA for submitting additional information past and my disability was reduced. I then filed appeal requesting a reconsideration of my disability reduction which was rejected because the VA had not yet taken formal action on their proposed reduction to my disability. At that point I filed a complaint with my Senator. Her office was instrumental in obtaining for me a Predetermination Hearing in December of 2014. It is now January 2016 I have yet to be notified of the results of that hearing. I did learn through my VFW rep that the DRO who conducted my hearing is no longer handling cases.
    In addition to my right hip, I had a service related disability for my left hip and both knees. In September 2015 I submitted a request that the VA reevaluate my disability because both hips and my left knee had been replaced. I received back from the VA stated I used the wrong form. Since I was submitting a new claim for consideration I needed to fill out an Application for Disability Compensation.
    My experience dealing with the Baltimore VA office has been one of consistent frustration.

  25. David Mitchell January 24, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I have been told that my rating could be reduced as well. I broke my right hand with only one year AFS and my rating is 0% for that claim. I’ve blown both of my knees several times over the years from the amount of running enforced at Bragg and only received 10%. I’ve also had a vasectomy performed and three years later had to have a epididyoctomy because of a large mass found and I get 0% for that as well. My wife has severe sleep apnea and that was found out after leaving the military and was just diagnosed with diabetes no luck for her so far either. The system must work on our behalf forget the DAV because you have to take off work if you’re able just to make the appointment. I even lost my job during a new claim.

  26. tim robinson January 24, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    the va will keep you under 30% untill you die they don’t send forms in for approval of claims ,they keep them for a few months and then you a denial back. The heads of departments get a bonus this. If you do get approved for any claim you know someone on the inside. my aunt worked for the VA for 40 years she said less than 10% will ever get approved. As long as the bonus system stays in effect.They have to say thanks for you service or be repromanded.Being a combat veteran I can”t even get travel reimbercement to hospital and I live over 100 miles from nearest va hospital. Ithink the va tries to just keep us alive for their own benifit.$$$$$$$$$$ maybe someday we will get a preident who will look and take care of all veterans. all it is now is bottom line$$$$$$

  27. Alarik Wood January 24, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    I fully agree with most veterans on this comment page. One of the frustrations we all face, is that the VBA, need’s to publish a “How to Guide”, as to how to navigate the V.A. medical and claim process. This would clear up any confusion, for veterans and their families, caregivers, providers, Vso’s, etc., as to how to navigate the medical system, and how to file a claim properly, as most of us will need to file claims years after we are honorably discharged from active duty. In my experience with the V.A. medical system, I do not believe it is the providers responsibility ( nor are they educated in this) to tell a veteran what their ” service connections” are. This is the responsibility of the veteran, families, caregivers, etc., In the interest of disabled veterans who are capable of advocating for themselves ( because of physical and or mental disabilities ) , then an advocate should be provided for them. Advocates in today’s ( 2016 ) modern time, are being trained all over the country, by National Alliance for Mental Illness ( N.A.M.I. – of which this disabled veteran is a member of, and a California certified mentor, for Peer to Peer, and soon – Connections), ten’s of thousand’s of mental health, health, and other advocacy agencies, as I write this letter. These generous individual’s are termed : Peer to Peer Mentors, Peer Coaches, Advocates, etc. Some work for free. Others work for an agency, but will provide free services to veterans and other citizens in need of qualified help ( which all disabled veterans qualify for) .

    I believe that if a veteran does not concur with a providers diagnosis ( or any other outside agency, Dr., etc. and the veteran has a service medical record, or any other record, that can prove a service connection) , that a veteran should seek out advice from a patient advocate, Vso, Dav, etc., before jumping to conclusions, that the provider is “attacking” ” mis representing” etc., the veteran – I have been guilty of this myself, until I understood the system a lot better myself – remember veterans, that politics and bureaucracy, has been a part of our lives, since we were born – deal with it, learn to accept it, process this thought, learn to be patient, and acknowledge the thought that we are all part of a world wide system……not just a United States system. We are not the only veterans seeking medical assistance/claims.

    If congress does not want to fully fund the V.A. ( as the Republicans stated in February of 2104, ” Veterans are not worth the budget) and Secretary Donaldson is attempting to do his best, to fully fund the V.a,. then I propose the option for veterans to elect the motion to ( on a fair sliding scale ) to pay a portion of their disability pay they are receiving from the V.A., for their medical care, and medical/mental health care only. These are the times we are living in. I know every provider, clinic – cboc, and V.A. medical center in the world/country is under staffed, under funded, and over loaded, with a surplus of retired veterans ( not just those whom have retired from active duty, but those whom have retired from life – age 65 and older) , mid – life veterans ( 40+ years of age – 60 ) and younger veterans whom are returning, in epic proportions, from our current conflicts. At this rate, I believe that it is time for veterans ( if we are to have V.A. medical care in the future), that we contribute a fair portion ( perhaps 10 %) of our disability pay, to the V.A.system, for today, and for future medical care, so that yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s veterans can enjoy proper health care. It is time to stop the whining, and stop the outrageous comments, that I have observed on this page – comment system. We have the best health care available in the entire world. I understand the claims process can be rather frustrating ……. follow some simple steps in the February edition in D.A.V. magazine, file a claim, realize it will take some time, stay in touch with your benefits officer ( through your local V.A. office/cboc/medical center) , who can follow the claims process, be patient, keep up with your conditions, stay on top of your current medications, as your providers ( or outside providers ) for an assessment – if you feel you might have “something else” hindering you in life : such as bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, work related stress, diet conditions, too much sugar intake, nicotine, alcohol ( sugar ) , too much time on a computer/television ( stimulation), practice good sleep hygiene, consistent waking up habits., and much more, which can contribute to frustration, anger, irritability, in patience, etc.

    We all served at different times, branches of services, war and or training, and or humanitarian missions, and or undeclared conflicts, and or sea duty, and and or other related service. We are all in this together with our medical care/ providers. We must do our part, to recognize our responsibilities ( ask, call, advocate – maturely – , patient advocates, benefits officers, etc.) as patients/veterans , and to inform our providers, and the system, of any current, past, or new changes in our physiological bodies, that they may not see with their eyes ( they are not an xray, CT, M.R.I., p.e.t. or s.p.e.c. scanner machine) , and can easily overlook, misdiagnose, etc. A brain injury ( or a neurological condition such as :Tbi, abi, concussion, ptsd, bipolar, etc., ) is easily misdiagnosed, even by the most highly regarded professionals. If this is our case, then it is up to us ( caregivers, family, spouses, attorneys, etc.) to educate ourselves, on these conditions – and thousands of more possibilities ( the human brain is fascinating, complex – and is as difficult to “map” , as it is for N.A.S.A. to explore space – the galaxies) . We all can start by joining a local advocacy affiliation, such as N.A.M.I. ( no, I am not here to promote N.A.M.I. – they have helped as the V.A. cboc has been crammed packed), a local V.A. cboc ( which some will teach classes in the evenings), not being afraid of stigma, embarrassment ( why should we be? We worked for it, by serving our country – get your pride back!) , nor reprise from family, friends, or anyone else. Education is the key to self fulfillment, happiness, joy, the lifelong journey of “recovery”, connecting with like minded peers, providers, educators, etc., so we can better understand ourselves, family members, veterans, etc. Believe me, it works!
    Thank you to all veterans for serving this blessed nation. I am thankful for the V.A., and all the hard work the providers, staff, and administration, whom have spent many years of service, to help veterans with their conditions.

  28. Judy Panichi January 24, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    My husband has been trying to get medical benefits for years because he has Multiple Sclerosis and we can’t afford his medicine. He has been rejected more than once. He has some hearing problems, chronic bronchitis, anxiety and HBP all things that he suffered from while serving in the Army, however because we can’t prove these started in the military we keep on getting turned down. However we are aware that if any of those things showed up in a physical he wouldn’t have been drafted. The VA promised soldiers they would always be there for them if they ever needed medical benefits but through the years they changed the game and gave no thought to the Veterans who served. It’s a shame that the soldiers that are serving today can extend their time in the military so they can get free benefits for their children’s education but the ones that served can’t have medical benefits for themselves unless they live in poverty. My husband is getting older and certainly doesn’t have the physical problems that many Veteran’s have that served in a war zone but he had no input in where the military sent him to serve (Alaska) however he has been permanently since 1996 and has been on Medicare since. Unfortunately Medicare does not cover hearing aids and the co payment for his MS medicine makes it too costly for us.

  29. Quancidine Hinson-Gribble January 24, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    My name is Quancidine Hinson-Gribble and my husband passed on November 18, 2011. I applied for my Survivors Benefits shortly after that and received several VA file#’s. After bringing this problem to President Barack Obama and the egregious tactics at the VA, it was just a matter of time before I found out that my Survivors Benefits had already been re-routed even though I was receiving numerous letters stating that the VA was still working on my claim. I am receiving those letters still to this day, January 24, 2016. The persons involved in the re-routing of my Survivors Benefits and the theft of my government issued ID Cards are employees on Fort Bragg, NC, Amy J. Melendez and Joanie L. Hammons who work at the Survivors Outreach Services Center on Fort Bragg, NC is involved in the “CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE” that is going on throughout these military bases with the help of Colonel Jeffrey M. Sanborn, Garrison Command at Fort Bragg, NC who is now retired. With the help of IT and the ID Card Facility on Fort Bragg, NC, the Supervisor Ethel Knock is working with DA Project Officer, John W. Ellerbe. These people are the reason why in my case I have not received my Survivors Benefits. By taking me out of DEERS, and TRICARE for my other benefits because of retaliation for me contacting President Barack Obama, the FBI and other Federal Agencies.The reason why these folks will be going to Federal Prison is the very same Survivors Benefits that I received denial letters for the benefits have been paid out and taxes filed on them to boot. So, why we are wondering about our money and why we haven’t received it this is the reason why. I received my United States Office of Personnel Management letter on November 7, 2015 nothing is being done about us getting our money and benefits. Posted on January 24, 2016. Quancidine Hinson-Gribble

  30. HWB January 24, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    In 1970 while stationed abort the USS Independence I went to sick bay after falling down a ladder. I requested the health records from the Navy, while the visit was on file the complete report of the injury left a lot to be desired. The records were incomplete. I’m still trying to get the Navy to make correct and review my claim.

  31. david w johnson January 24, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    I am 62 years old and can no longer work, due to back and feet problems.. I fell off of a 30 foot pole in Fort Gordon Georgia during training in 1970.I filed claims in 2009. they were turned down because they could not find any of my records. They said I should go apply for Social security disability. I told them I had records on microfiche but the records from basic training and AIT were not on the microfiche. Microfiche did not start until later. They ask for my copy so I sent it to them.. and ask them to return the records when finished.. They turned me down because they could not find any records where I fell.. Even though I told them the records were not on the fiche. nor did they bother to send the records back.. six months ago I was told I should file a fully developed claim. step 1 was to request records. So I requested records after the 90 days I called to see where the records were, they said it may take another 90 days to find the records. they sent me a letter telling me the records were in ST .Petersburg fl, where I filed the last claim. I told them on the first request the specific records I needed, the ones from FT. Gordon, not the ones on Fiche. No matter what information you provide to them, they read into it whatever they need to avoid getting any further into the claim. My Father has the same problems with his agent orange claim. and he had maps with dates and times that the area was hit. Three conflict tours he was hit so much it finally killed him. 1980 my wife died of exposure to krypto equipment in Alabama. They required additional information on Top Secret equipment. Claim denied… If I were a minority I could automatically get 10% just for wearing jump boots. 2 x military guys from down the street just applied and was awarded. They tried to help me with the same process..no go.. but as a lineman, infantry and drill instructor nothing. I guess I was not on my feet enough. This process will not change until you start replacing civilian personnel with military veterans. and rule changes of course. I am almost homeless now.. no need to start another useless process.. Hopefully I can find an attorney that won’t take more than half.. best wishes. Its great to know the wars we fought gave our government and people of the UNITED STATES, the freedom to say NO TO OUR LIVES… Your Welcome!!

  32. Richard A. Ousey January 24, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    I have only been in the fight with them for two years, but it seems they do all they can to let you die so they don’t have to provide.

  33. Paul Conley January 24, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    I truly believe that VA employees are paid a bonus on the money they save by refusing benefits .
    I have dealt with this system since 1970, and have seen little if any improvement over all.
    I had to fight tooth and nail for years to get my IU rating despite the fact that I have a purple heart and combat action ribbon, my military medical records included my injuries from a rocket blast, my hospitalization ,etc. Had to write a “Stressor letter” when I first applied for a PTSD rating, then had at least a half dozen “Interviews” with various therapists,psychartrists, social workers, you name it. Despite the overwhelming evidence and my continued chronic pain from my injuries there always seemed to be some buearacrat that was blocking me.
    I too have a cynical view of the VA and though I don’t like to think in these terms, think they just want us to either drink or drug ourselves to death,commit suicide,or just give up even bothering.
    Meantime the government finds plenty of resources to help illegal aliens and “refugees”
    It is a national disgrace in my honest opinion.

  34. John Taylor January 24, 2016 at 11:00 am

    I just entered into the disability process in August of last year, 2015. So far nothing but a nightmare to add to the ones I already had, even after over 2 years in Vietnam. What have I done for the past 45 years you ask??? Stayed away from the VA for one thing. I knew after I got out that the VA was nothing but a scam and headache. It’s the government’s way of saying they are taking care of us.
    I find it appalling that the U.S. can take a perfectly normal person, send them thru boot camp to teach how to take another human being’s life, send us to a combat zone putting our own lives at risk and then returning us to a government that, quite literally, throws us to the wolves. And to make it worse, the VA treats us like a bunch of homeless rejects that are a liability to the United States government. Those in power in Washington seem to forget who fights the battles so they can be in the position they are in and in a ‘Free’ country.
    I have always been told, “Don’t come to me with a problem unless you also come with a solution.”
    So here is one of my solutions: If a person is Honorably Discharged from the Armed Services we should be compensated for our service. Especially service in a combat zone. i.e. regular compensation for non-combat personnel and upgraded compensation for combat people. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to pay a combat person $1,500 per month for life. Any disability pay would be added on top of that.
    Results: 1. This would be a real “Thank You” for our service.
    2. This would also take care of those veterans who suffer from combat related issues.
    3. It especially would take care our many, many homeless veterans.
    4. I’m sure making this an automatic process would decrease the need for all the VA employees that sit on their hands, making decisions that affect the lives of so many Veterans.
    5. I am not a CPA or analyst, but I can’t help but think it would also be less expensive to the Government. They do spend a lot of excess money on the department that could be eliminated.
    As veterans we need to unite and vote those into power that truly understand what they do to the people who serve in the Armed forces. We need to unite and make a stand instead of just sitting around bitching and moaning about it.
    Anyone who agrees with this or have any additional comments, please, post your suggestions and solutions. Do not gripe and moan unless you are willing to do something about it.

  35. LTC A. STEVE TAYLOR (RET) January 24, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Not a SINGLE positive comment on this site…that says everything.

    The head of the VA should be a former member of the JCS (still on active duty) and the VA should remain within the DOD where the needs of the veteran are understood. Staffing should be a mix of civilian and military members with the ability to recall medically trained veterans after a conflict where there are wounded. Effective civilian organizations such as Wounded Warriors, DA, and the American Legion should act legally as inside watchdogs and also monitor Veterans who are believed to be defrauding the system. P AY THE VETERAN FIRST and then follow up with investigations on those most susceptible for fraud. I don’t think a quadrapedic veteran with head injuries needs to be re-investigated. Now someone with a 40% disability rating for non-specific lower back injuries should be checked on periodically and if guilty of fraud be discharged under “other than honorable” conditions and should lose ALL military pay and benefits. The word would get around.

  36. Karlehoffman January 24, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Wow, reading these posts breaks my heart. I’m a former US Marine. I applied on June 6, 2015 thru e benefits. I received 80% dis on Jan 6th 2016 with 100% un employability , so I get 100% dis pay. Also received over $35,000.00 retro. That was direct deposited on the 11th.

    I then filed for SSDI on Jan 8, 2016. I received a letter from SSDI yesterday Jan 22nd 2016 stating that they need a copy of my VA dis/un employability letter and my SSDI will be approved. I’m mailing that certified today.

    I did all of this on my own, online, showed up for all appointments and documented everything. I did nothing special. I’m not an attorney or paper work wiz.

    I just did the right things, followed instructions and had/have faith in the system. The VA is a good system, follow instructions and be honest with them and yourself. If you haven’t earned it, don’t apply for it. It slows all the rest of us down and that’s probably why a lot of you are waiting so long. They know if you have earned it. If it’s not in your records, doubt you will get anything and you will wait for years. I don’t blame the VA for that one bit. Just a thought.

    Semiper FI and thank you VA for being there for all of us.

    Good luck to you all

  37. Onagh Hopke January 24, 2016 at 2:31 am

    I finally have my VA ID, and my medical records which have been “lost” since 1991, amazingly appeared in 2013. My Civilian Records have been requested, and on Tuesday we start the Appeals Process. After 26 years, it took the Health Care Boards of Directors pressuring Congress People to shut me the hell up, and cover me. Bottom line is that the Air Force caused the illness. Plan and simple. Health Insurance refuses to cover me after I sued them for trying to kill me in 1999 and 2000.
    I am so happy Mr President has gone after the Prescription Drug Formulary and is finally breaking that Cartel. I will be more than happy to provide as much damning evidence he needs to nail them to a cross. Same for the Health Care CEOs and Boards. Anything you need to nail them to the side of the castle walls I am happy to provide. I already beat them once, now that the ACA is Law of the Land, I am your Girl to end the reign of Medicine For Profit.
    I am happy to share my experience with the VA Innovation Team as I navigate this next phase of the Appeals Process. I am tracking down point of failure in my process beginning in 1991 and the Medical Decisions made by Civilian Physicians based on Memory not fact. If my outspoken rebellious presence on the Internet gets one Veteran of any age a quicker appointment, free meds, a Real Diagnosis, Real Treatment, a free ride to the Clinic, or a Hot Meal in their Home, then I win.

  38. Russell Mahan January 23, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    Its outrageous. Really. My story is not different than most that have posted. I have been at this for 17 years. After my last re-eval, my rating when added up was well over a 100%. But I noticed they reduced some of my other previous ratings even though its still overy 100%. I don’t get it. I spent years working on my packages, hundreds of hours over the years. On this most recent re-eval, I had been unemployed for over a year, had lost my house, car, motocycle and lost most everything my wife and I had built over 30 years of marriage. I have now been in an appeal over two years with no news or updates. DAV has told me it’s not been long enough.

  39. Kenneth Tennant January 23, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    I asked for a FAIR & IMPARTIAL Decision Review Officer to give the most liberal application of the law allowable. Instead, another denial by a thief employed by the VA & BVA (VLJ’s are Incompetent & or Dishonest, more oft than not) I have been fighting since BUSH Jr. 8 years / 8 years of Clinton,/ 8 years of Obama / same ol incompetence, dishonesty and lack of oversight and lack of accountability. You Tube: AMERICAN VETERAN and Google: Kenneth Tennant ARRESTED for blowing whistle on Militarized bio-chem Weapons aka VACCINES

  40. Kenneth Tennant January 23, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    IOWA VARO = overly adversarial & ABUSIVE as is the BVA. Decades of Appeals, Delays, Deception & Denials, while they take six figure salaries. Read: Top Heavy Salaries & Dead Weight Admins. Google: Kenneth Tennant (Domestic Terrorism: USA vs Vets & 1st Amendment), You Tube: AMERICAN VETERAN: Discarded & Forgotten, Gary Null. VACCINES CAUSED GWS. DHS ARRESTED me on a Trumped up charge meant to intimidate me into silence & smear my name. – Dr. Kenneth Tennant C 30 269 323 KTennantDC@Gmail.com

  41. Gerald Krueger January 23, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    I am A Vietnam vet. I put in a claim in 1970 for my back and for PTSD. I was told the records were lost . I have my original claim card with the original claim number on it. It is the same claim number the VA uses today to identify me. this in itself is questionable. How can there be no record of my claim yet a claim number exists? I, like so many other nam vets ,was drafted. my childhood basketball and baseball games were replaced with a rifle and hand grenades. I was sent to a place where I was taught to KILL, KILL, KILL or be killed. Everyday someone was killed, shot, blown up disappeared. anyone who was in the nam war was also sprayed with agent orange. which we still don’t know all the effects that has had on all nam vets. That in itself should give me 100% permanent disability. when I returned I was given a shower, a hair cut and a good bye. I was spit on. I was called a baby killer. I was put in situations I would not wish on my worst enemy. And that was at the hands of the country I believed I was fighting for. that’s another good reason nam vets deserve 100% permanent disability. Yes, I returned home but so much of me died over there that every day I struggle just to exist. I choose the word exist because I am not living, I barely leave my house I fought for the freedom of my country. But I AM NOT FREE, I am trapped inside the VA appeals system. I currently have several appeals in the VA system. I have been in the appeals system for so long I don’t believe anyone even looks at my stuff any more. I wrote a letter to the President of the United States but even he couldn’t help, he passed it to someone who passed it to someone who passed it to the people at the VA appeals department and it started all over again. The stress this is causing me ,I believe will kill me before I ever get my 100% permanent disability. But that is the VA motto, Deny, Deny, Deny until they all Die. Disgraceful!!! So yes I do believe the VA appeals system is broken, unfair and in need of simplicity. This letter was typed by my wife due to the fact I would not be able to put my thoughts into word on paper.

  42. Walter Manners January 23, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Many of the VA leadership and the people that work at the VA have no interest in providing care for the veterans. They are only concern about their jobs. I filed a claim with the VA several times complaining of shortness of breath, nose bleeding, itching on scalp and other areas on my body that I experienced from the first Gulf War. The VA denied my claim for years and about eight years after I filed the claim the VA wrote and acknowledged that chemical nerve agents were in my unit areas of operations that we were ordered to clear and destroy but they said the concentration were low and they doubt the chemical nerve agents would have caused any of those issues. I am still experiencing those issues today.

  43. George P. Partin January 23, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    While in Vietnam, I injured my lower back moving boxes of ammo. I know the exact date because I was keeping a diary at that time. I visited the doctor twice, but was told it was a strain. Eventually, about ten years later, I had to have back surgery. I attempted to get reimbursed for the cost of the surgery from the VA, but was denied. I appealed. The resulting “finding” was that no matter what I said or believed happened while I was in Vietnam, it didn’t happen. I’ve not had anything to do with the VA since then.

  44. Michael L Shill Sr January 23, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    It seems that the DAV (all VSO’s) work with you and actually do the job they are tasked and trained, as long as they get the money out of your pocket for donations.

    As far as appeals, the Veteran Affairs Regional Office’s know that if they do not complete VA exams, notification of a decision to Veterans, issue a Statement of the Case, not arranging a hearing with the Veteran that was requested, not asking a medical doctor for an opinion on a disability, and clerical errors the BVA will remand the claim back to the VARO, hence, the VARO now has been told by the BVA to complete remand orders, as such the burden has been taken off the VARO, were as the VARO can now take any amount of time to complete a claim. Plus, if a Veteran has requested intervention/assistance from a member of congress, the VARO’s retaliate by making the Veteran wait 1, 2, 3, or even 4 times the claim is remanded back from the BVA. (Reference 2014 & 2015 appeals that have gone in front of a BVA judge) Sometimes the time between remands can be as long as 1 to 2 years, so at 4 remands, that’s 8 years due to the fact the VARO’s prefer not follow the remand orders from the BVA.
    THE VARO’S KNOW THIS, AND THE VARO DOES IT ON PURPOSE. THE VAOIG DOES NOT WANT TO INVESTIGATE. WHY? BECAUSE THE IG IS PART OF THE PROBLEM.

    I BELIEVE THE MAIN REASON THE VA DOES THIS, IS TO KEEP THE NON-VA EMPLOYEE RATED AT SUCH A LOW RATE, JUST TO INSURE THAT THE VA EMPLOYEES INCLUDING THE VAOIG RECEIVE THE HIGHER RATED DISABILITY PERCENTAGE TO JUSTIFY TO CONGRESS THE DOLLAR AMOUNT SPENT ON COMPENSATION.

  45. James Townsend Hill January 23, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    I have an appeal working. I have no idea where it is in the process. The simple solution is to set up a PC in the local CBOC with Skype so that the veteran can explain his or her appeal to a judge. The judge has 30 days to respond….end of process.

  46. Richard Orefice January 23, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    A Veterans Open Letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the people of The United States of America
    Sir, Madam,
    I am currently waiting for the opportunity to speak to a BVA Judge so I can appeal the VA’s denial of my request for 100% disability for the affects PTSD has had on my life. My attorney tells me that the wait to get in front of a BVA Judge is an additional 3 years. I feel that this entire situation with the VA has been nothing but mistakes and misunderstandings from the start, many of them caused by me.
    I served a year in Viet-Nam as a Marine Infantryman (MOS 0311). I served with E Company 2/3 Marines up along the then South Vietnamese border with the DMZ and Laos. I spent some time in the hospital for immersion foot. When the 3rd. Marine Division pulled out in the fall of 1969 I was reassigned to G Company 2/7 Marines of the 1st. Marine Division about 40 miles SW of Danang. I received a gunshot wound through my right flank during an ambush in the Que Son valley. I returned to my unit. I was a Squad Leader, they needed me. I saw and did many horrific things. During my final weeks of a one year tour a Navy Corpsman at Fire Base Ross told me I was suffering from extreme aggressiveness and anxiety.
    When I was honorably discharged in 1970 something was bothering me but I just thought it was a little battle fatigue, I was in combat often. I was diagnosed with severe aggression and anxiety while at Fire Base Ross in the Que Son valley. It took both my mother and a friend’s father, a WWII Marine Vet to get me to report my gunshot wound to the VA in Newark, NJ where they awarded me a 10% disability rating. I just wanted to put my experience in Viet-Nam behind me and get on with my life. Over the following three years I was fired or quit from two short term jobs, I sold the car that I loved, drank, did drugs, broke up with the girl I was dating for 4 years. I got very anxious when we tried to hang out in the reservations and farms I loved as much while a teenager. After a DUI arrest I moved to Florida around 1974. I now understand that I was getting rid of everything and everyone that I was close to. I was also capable of doing some very crazy and risky things. But, back then I thought I could get over it. I’m a Marine.
    Once in Florida I continued to do many drugs and alcohol and get into fights. I got another DUI. I realized there was something wrong in my head. I thought about my experiences in Viet-Nam almost continuously, like a movie loop running in the background of my mind. I was remembering and analyzing every moment of that year. Unexpected sounds and motions startle me with a burning sensation of rage in my chest. I would spend nights peering into the bushes outside the bedroom window. I occasionally hallucinate the color green, like the deep, triple canopy jungles in Viet-Nam. I thought I would get over it eventually. I didn’t care about anything or anyone, not even myself. It seemed like most of America hated us Viet-Nam Vets because they felt we were all killers in an unjust war in Viet-Nam. Society was much different during the 1960’s and 1970’s. In my opinion the lack of respect and support, along with watching American citizen’s wave NVA flags contributed to my PTSD. The fall of Saigon bothers me still. I feel sorrow for all the friends I lost, all the friends who sustained wounds and all the people I killed for nothing. I feel sorrow for all the people who loved them. I worked at various jobs that didn’t pay well. I worked for and was fired or quit from many boat dealerships until my forced retirement during the 2007 recession.
    It wasn’t until 2001 while I quit smoking pot, quit taking barbiturates to sleep and drink less alcohol when I toughed it up and went to the VA clinic in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I occasionally drove by the place and it always gave me great anxiety. I signed up, got a physical, a diagnosis of PTSD and a prescription for a daily dose of 0.50 mg. of alprazolam so I could go to sleep at night, prior to that I was mostly passing out from self-medication. Of course I knew of PTSD since it became a psychological condition in 1980. I could be the poster boy. I have every symptom except ideation of suicide. But I am also a Marine which meant don’t whine, don’t complain, tough it out. Maybe I was in denial too. At my VA appointments I played down all my experience with PTSD so I could avoid going there. Talking about my experiences makes me remember them after years of trying to suppress them. A few days before appointments I start to tremble inside, my throat constricts, my blood pressure goes through the roof and I feel miserable. I still hate going to the VA. My first experience with a mental health provider was at the Miami VA hospital when I was told that I have severe and chronic PTSD and that I was going through an episode while she was denying me any medication unless I promised to quit drinking the 2-4 beers a day that I used as a method to control my alcoholism. Thankfully that denial was corrected my mental health provider at the Oakland Park clinic. It wasn’t until 2008 when I was about to become homeless that I became desperate enough to apply for PTSD compensation in spite of my fear of being dragged into the VA more often to prove it to their satisfaction. I received an additional 50% for PTSD and felt it was a slap in the face after a mostly wasted life because of PTSD. The psychiatrists at the VA just tried using different drugs on me. They should know that some vets need to have their true feelings pulled out of them. It seems like they don’t really care, so when we meet to extend my prescriptions it only causes rage to go along with the anxiety I always feel. One psychiatrist asked me if I was exposed to Agent Orange. My answer was that I didn’t know, I don’t remember being in a defoliated area. The areas I was in made it hard to tell the difference between defoliation and a recent bombing or napalm. But of course I was exposed to Agent Orange as well as most Infantry Riflemen who got all our drinking water from streams and rivers. We spent up to four weeks at a time in the bush. They need to learn to ask the right questions in the correct way. With the web I learned that every area I was in was defoliated at one time or another. I am also involved in the ATSDR registry to determine the effects of drinking toxic water while I was stationed at USMC Base Camp Lejeune.
    So now I wait. I had to hire an attorney simply because it’s not easy for a Marine to complain, and contracted to give them 20% of the of the retroactive compensation money I have so justly deserved since 1970. But now this situation has gone beyond the money. Now it’s about principles and justice. I am at war with the VA, and Marines are good at that. I go to the VA more now to complain about the tinnitus that’s been screaming in my ears since 1970. I complain about the neuropathy in my legs that radiates from the area of my gunshot scar. And I still complain about my inability to get a good night’s sleep without at least some alcohol, to care about anything, to be around people. I may even attempt to attend a group session and risk getting into a fight with one of the many phonies that go to them to maintain their free ride at the expense of the seriously wounded and the crazy people like me. So, now I wait. I have been waiting since I first filed for 100% disability in 2010.The waiting just adds to my furious determination because I suspect that the VA is waiting also – for this old Marine to die and go away. That is not going to happen. I give my word as a Marine that I will keep fighting and forwarding this document to every media outlet, every American politician, every VA bureaucrat, and to any and all persons who can begin to end this injustice to both myself and the many true combat Veterans, both men and women, who have left a part of their selves, and brought home a piece of the battlefield while fighting on foreign soil for this Country we will forever love.
    Update: 23 January 2016: I decided that the disability law firms are clogging the system with garbage. I discharged mine and now work with Veterans representative. During a recent conversation he told me that I still don’t have a scheduled BVA hearing. This entire process is exacting a toll on me, but I don’t care. The war goes on.

  47. Reginald Thomas January 23, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    How do one fix the veteran’s C&P system when its budget includes VA employees’ benefits who should not be VA employees. The VA does not and should not employ doctors who provide medical care and treatment to veterans. Private doctors (primary and specialist) would reduce expenses and provide better services. The lack of technicians to process claims is the problem and that’s the billet the VA should employ. Oh, without a thumb on the doctors the fox would lose control!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. Ellison Hunt January 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I just made a long comment and had it deleated because I did not see the box next to the captcha.

    I told you the VA would sabotage my coments.

    I did not make a copy but I bet the copy I made is available to the VA.

  49. Reynaldo Sandico January 23, 2016 at 11:42 am

    US military veterans in the Philippines with 100% total and complete disabilities are only covered for their service connected disabilities whereas veterans in the US are fully covered to be treated of all medical problems to include non-service connected. According to the VA it is in the law. I cannot imagine lawmakers making laws that is discriminatory in nature. A veteran regardless on where he retires and a VA medical clinic is available should be given equal treatment. In the Philippines there are several veterans who are now too old to travel in the US for medical treatment. I am aware of a case of a retired US Army E4 who cannot afford treatment in a regular hospital so his wife brought him to the Philippine General Hospital (a public hospital) for treatment and admission in the charity ward. This veteran eventually died. I felt sorry for this fellow veteran who after talking to the widow served the US military honorably. Is there a way for the top management of the US Veterans Administration to look into this situation and make appropriate corrective actions? There are a few thousands US veterans retired in the Philippines and your immediate attention would be greatly appreciated.

  50. Charles Dunning January 23, 2016 at 11:39 am

    The Veterans Appeals court and system have gone to politics, lost touch, lost their way and true purpose. Stomach problems from eating on the move for 20 plus years or 2. Shoulder problems for doing push-ups everyday for years. Back problems for wearing ruck sacks, gear, body armor, not for days, but years. Just small issues at first. The VA, White house, Pentagon and VA claims are ONLY looking at the price tag. I served for 29 years, along with what I have read above tells me the US is slowing abandoning us. Thats just how I feel, my body aches from 29 years of dedication to duty.

    SFC Charles Dunning

  51. Donald S. Green January 23, 2016 at 10:21 am

    First,I would like to say I am grateful for the medical attention I have received. I get the same level (and many times better) services and treatments than I did with private insurance. The medical process is professionally run.
    The appeals process seems to be another matter. If a case is appealed it should go before a local panel of 3-4 people and their recommendations accepted by VA. There is a tendency towards non-personal decisions and a disconnect between medical and mental health in put and the decision makers. It is very hard for someone reading a written report in an office far removed from the veteran. This lack of “putting a face” on the case impedes a balanced decision.
    If there is a spouse or dependent children there should be a way to submit personal written accounts of what they are going through. Many, like my wife, has many times suffered from my problems more than I do.

  52. Karl Hoffman January 23, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Wow, reading these posts breaks my heart. I’m a former US Marine. I applied on June 6, 2015 thru e benefits. I received 80% dis on Jan 6th 2016 with 100% un employability , so I get 100% dis pay. Also received over $35,000.00 retro. That was direct deposited on the 11th.

    I then filed for SSDI on Jan 8, 2016. I received a letter from SSDI yesterday Jan 22nd 2016 stating that they need a copy of my VA dis/un employability letter and my SSDI will be approved. I’m mailing that certified today.

    I did all of this on my own, online, showed up for all appointments and documented everything. I did nothing special. I’m not an attorney or paper work wiz.

    I just did the right things, followed instructions and had/have faith in the system. The VA is a good system, follow instructions and be honest with them and yourself. If you haven’t earned it, don’t apply for it. It slows all the rest of us down and that’s probably why a lot of you are waiting so long. They know if you have earned it. If it’s not in your records, doubt you will get anything and you will wait for years. I don’t blame the VA for that one bit. Just a thought.

    Semper FI and thank you VA for being there for all of us.

    Good luck to you all

  53. JOYCE A KELSO January 23, 2016 at 9:27 am

    TO THE VA: PLEASE PLEASE “STOP” TORTURING OUR VETERANS WITH ISSUES!!!!
    ALL VETERANS HAD “LIFE” ISSUES AT THE TIME OF ENLISTMENT, BUT THEY DIDN’T STALL OUT ON OUR COUNTRY, THEY SHOWED UP FOR DUTY RIGHT THEN NOT TOMORROW!!!!
    WE NEED TO SHOW THE SAME RESPECT!

    THIS SHOULD BE THE PROCESS:
    1. PHYSICIAN MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS OF THE VETERANS HEALTH CONDITION
    2. COMPENSATION NEEDS TO ENTER “DOLLAR” AMOUNT BY EACH DIAGNOSIS
    3. CLAIMS DEPARTMENT SENDS OUT AWARD LETTERS WITH COMPENSATION CHECKS
    THIS ELIMINATES THE NEED FOR VETERAN TO BE ON THE FRONT LINES AGAIN!!

    THE CLAIMS DEPARTMENT CAN THEN PROCESS ANY “APPEALS” ON THESE ORIGINAL PAYMENTS THAT DIDN’T TAKE MONTHS AND MONTHS TO FIGURE OUT!!!!!!!!!
    THE VA ALREADY HAS THE MAN-POWER IN PLACE FOR THIS PROCESS TO SUCEED!

    VERY PROUD SPOUSE OF AIR FORCE VETERAN, AND VERY PROUD OF ALL VETERANS FOR PROTECTING US!
    JOYCE KELSO AND FAMILIES!

  54. Denise McLean January 23, 2016 at 9:20 am

    My experience with the VA is they don’t give a flying….. about anything. I am on my second fight with them. First they tell me that my doctor is not in the system and is a fake, after I submitted the necessary documents they say I have to wait five years for them to make a decision, right now I am at zero percent. The government cares about no one.

  55. stefan w. turchyn January 23, 2016 at 8:15 am

    I’ve read through numerous posts and it is clear to me that there is an obvious trend/pattern as to how the VA handles Appeals & Remands. With today’s technology they (VA) can easily track the number and length of claims in the appeal pipeline. What the VA has simply done is clean up the backlog of existing claims by issuing faulty decisions because they are on production or a quota system and the claim will just fall into the black hole known as the “appeals process”. Since Appeals & Remands are not tracked in the same way, Veterans will wait Years to have their claims decided, It’s a disgrace. This issue will never change unless we change! Get active, get involved and spread the word! Start by contacting your local American Legion, VFW or member of Congress! Action dictates change!

  56. william david buttitta January 23, 2016 at 8:08 am

    I got married 2 years ago filed 4 dependency like I said 2 years still no answer. very frustrating. been to the regional office,twice. system sucks

  57. Richard Roush January 23, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Today is day 1,137 waiting for the first response from VA on a appeal I filed in 2012 for PTSD. I have a lawyer, I have given all the requested information and have done all the VA has asked. I dont want to end up waiting 30 years for VA to get its business together.

  58. Alfred Drummond January 23, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Veterans assistance claim act of 2000

    They have a duty to assist and when I found my claim to be in error , I contacted the Under Secretary office when Allison Hickey was in term …….now anyone knows how to contact their office , no phone number listed or email ….they know vets are being screwed

  59. Daniel Herald January 23, 2016 at 4:05 am

    I was rated 100% disabled for cancers related to agent orange. But now some clerk at the Va has decided i am only 40% now because my cancer is in remission but i still have problems related to the treatment. Im appealing by myself because vso just looked at me and said yup thats the way it is.

  60. andrew m polovich January 23, 2016 at 3:11 am

    I live in southern Illinois. The DAV and VFW Service Offficers are great. My initial claim to raise my rating was completed in just under 11 months. I was seen by the Doctor who performed the examine and was very understanding and took his time. I was provided with a new brace for my left leg to ease my pain. my rating was increased by 10% two years later I again filed for a rating increase. I was scheduled for my examine within 6 weeks. This time the Doctor was very attentive and took over an hour with me. He also asked about my Left knee. this time my rating was increased my 20% in just under 7 months.

  61. Glen Avery January 23, 2016 at 12:26 am

    I have been with my claim for 20 years, longer but it was closed a couple of times. In September of 2014 the BVA sent it back to the RO for future development with and order to expedite. It is still at the RO and they have had everything they needed to make a decision since July of 20015. I just hope I don`t have to file another notce of disagreement.

  62. Nancy Benjamin January 22, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    My husband gave up on his appeal in 2003 because of yet another negative decision. Since then his health has gone down and down and added PTSD, Diabetes 2, Parkinson’s and the list goes on and on. He initiated another claim for his diabetes 2 and Parkinson’s disease and PTSD and again in 2014 they denied anything and did not address his Parkinson’s we again submitted an appeal just to keep waiting. No recourse on finding out what is happening with the appeal and no contact from VA! He was in the Air Force for 9 years and deserves so much better! We submitted an affidavit from another soldier who helped exfoliate the bomb dump at Utapao AFB Thailand! They were part of the first PCS troops there and you can’t stack bombs in the foliage and be safe! What’s the holdup, they are just wanting him to die and be rid of him, I really detest these individuals who are doing this to my husband of 49 years! I’m his care giver now! VA please help!

  63. Richard K. LoRe January 22, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Agree with your objective and intent….However…..
    What ends up under the inefficient umbrella of the VA and any other bureaucracy for that matter, is a force adverse to movement much less change….in any form. And that’s for starters. You are talking about a mind set and an entrenched way of thinking that is almost impossible to penetrate much less reform. You join the service and you automatically capitulate to a subservient way of thinking and you adhere to a dominant Alpha structural existence that ensures “the system from falling into chaos.”
    To become a bureaucrat in such a system is to ensure job security by not questioning “procedures.” Innovation…good efficient ideas….you kidding…who wants change? Not i says the bureaucrat: “it took me neigh on five years to learn the first one hundred protocols …i only have another fore-score and seven years to learn the rest…don’t bother me…I’m working.”
    While I believe your efforts are honorable and worthwhile the reality is that in order for you to make even a small dent in the process you will have to acknowledge that at minimum, you will be at this process for decades–cultures take a wee bit time to change. And are you really ready to do that or are you just blowing smoke waiting for a research check and a future professorship. …? Sound good and reads well but do you folks have the dedication and stamina? ”
    Pissed… i am, i am and i don’t need Yoda to interpret my emotions to you. A brief story. I went to my local VA emergency room and waited almost seven hours before being seen. A seven hour wait justified, i believe, my being fed up and a little pissed and leaving the place in order to get private care ( Had a spider bite, my hand blew up like a balloon and a dark red line inched its way upward to tickle my heart). It took approximately one hour from signing in to signing out from that…god forbid my saying this…an effective and efficient public hospital. What really tickled my heart was that i dared to ask the VA to help pay for the bill. “But you left” was the response…”no shit” I said. I was dismissed and denigrated in the emergency room because ..I obviously could not comprehend that a fellow vet rushed in on a gurney had priority.” What an unfeeling, uncompassionate vet you are…and ignorant too.
    And while I wholeheartedly appreciate your efforts and somewhere in the sunken recesses of my mind believe you will awaken an awareness and perhaps help streamline an archaic system, in the end this whole effort will be for naught.
    I am not one to blindly embrace the idea of private enterprise as a “government agent ” i am nearing the believe that if change is to occur before 2050 and my grandson has whiskers, you folks should seriously consider hiring and/or turning over the whole VA system to United Parcel or Federal Express…if they could move gazillions of packages a day, i am sure they can process our claims in a timely and courteous manner.

  64. Albert M. Anderer January 22, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    RE: Veteran Appeals Experience:
    This should be required reading for everyone involved in the VBA process. I agree with all of the frustration expressed in the report, having just gone through a C&P exam. I would have expected the Dr. to have taken the process more seriously. “I didn’t find that in your medical records.” So, I showed him where it was. As I was explaining my situation, he was typing his report and acknowledged what I was saying by nodding and replying, “uh-huh.” I stopped talking mid-sentence and he continued to acknowledge what I was – saying, or not saying?
    I had appealed the initial findings on several counts, including one that was turned down citing an Editorial from a British medical magazine from around 20-25 years ago. I looked up the editorial, and sure enough, if you read the headline and first several paragraphs, the turn-down was justified; however, if you read the entire editorial, it acknowledged my claim of my service connected right leg caused wear and tear on the other, making it service connected as well.
    Who’s watching the store? Why do I have to find the turn-down in my records to see what was the rational for the refusal and followup to verify the refusal?
    At this stage, I don’t know the outcome, but hope my wife won’t be left to followup on my appeal. I’m 75 this year with heart trouble and diabetes to show for my exposure to Agent Orange in my 3 years in SE Asia. Which reminds me of another problem I had to overcome: How do you prove you were in Vietnam when your official records don’t show it? All my exposure was on TDY. All TDY records are destroyed after 6 years. How did I prove it? That’s another story.
    Enough!
    Make this required reading for everyone in the process.

  65. David L Garretson January 22, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    In 2012 I entered the Phoenix VA ER with chest pains, trouble breathing and trouble walking. After 3 days of observation the prognosis was “too much water in my system and a touch of pneumonia”. Then 7 months later I had to call 911 with the same symptoms. The EMT’s took their readings and informed me they had to transport me immediately to a hospital, so I informed them I was taken care of by the Phoenix VA, to which they said they could not take me there. I asked if it was because of the distance and the lead EMT said no, they had orders from their HQ not to take any patients to the Phoenix VA. As a result I was transported to the John C Lincoln Hospital where, upon arrival I was informed I needed to have a angiogram with the possibility of an angioplasty and a stint. But, when they investigated they found the arteries too heavily block and had to perform a 3 way heart by-pass. Then the battle started. I informed all the medical personnel to submit their bills to Medicare and to the Phoenix VA within 90 days.
    The first round of bills submitted to the VA were denied because “there was no advanced request/approval for the operation” (it was an emergency operation). The second round of bills were denied because “they were not submitted within 30 days of the operation”. I was in the hospital for 6 days and rehab for 21 days giving me 3 days during recovery to pull the bills together and submit same.
    It doesn’t take a genius to see the rule at the Phoenix VA was to deny the request no matter what. Finally I entered the appeal process and got a letter saying they had decided to pay all bills associated with this emergency which Medicare would not pay, but it took more than 12 months of letter writing and anger to a heart patient. Not too smart from a legal standpoint. But thank you VA for finally owning up to your responsibility on my behalf.

  66. William January 22, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    I am having to wait for an appeal that has taken my monthly benefit down by more than $500 dollars because a QTC appointed Psycotherapist put erroneous information in my file that the VA used to make that reduction rather than using the Mental health Doctors at the VA I attend as my primary who totally goes against what was said by an outside doctor. Now I am told my appeal may take two years. Like many veterans my monthly benefits makes or use to make my mortgage payment. I am missing something here. We are not asking for a hand out but for what I was told we earned! I know it must be a tedious task to satisfy all of us but my God. If our government make a bi-partisan to help other countries when tragedies hit, what is the problem in solving this?

  67. James D. Morton January 22, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    One thing you guys who are 100% SC disabled want to consider before you consent to have anything done to correct and make you whole again is the VA is capable of changing your rating to a much lower number and your compensation along with it. If you can wait until you have at the 100% level for ten years or longer than they no longer can reduce your rate no matter what you have done. I have it in writing direct from the Washington DC office of Veterans Affairs that says my rating can no longer be reduced because I have over ten years at the 100% level.

    I have always thought that being 100% rated meant that everything and anything medically was covered or else why give a 100% rating. We should be taken care of no matter where we get out service done or by whom. After all that is what 100% means right??? If you call any VA facility and you get that recording we all can recite word for word that says “If this is a medical emergency hang up and dial 911” So why do we end up fighting to get our ER visits covered specially if we happen to have a 100% rating. We are supposed to be covered no matter what. I spent nearly 2 years fighting a ER bill and ended up paying it myself to stay out of small claims court and having my credit rating destroyed. The VA finally paid it 2 years later after review. Just how much time does it take to review a claim from a veteran who is rated 100% anyway???? They should see instantly that the claim was from a 100% covered veteran and approve the payment.

  68. Gary Adams January 22, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    I have fought in 2 wars. It disturbs me that the typical government white lie is STILL endangering our vets. The are supposed to be cared for by individuals who want to help them. All I have experienced and seen is a lot of suit and ties with pretty college degrees that could care less if the vet even exist. To understand the needs the so called reps need to remove themselves from behind the desk, out of their cozy offices, away fro the piece of paper that elevated them into their kingdom and get their soft hands dirty.
    Well that will never occur so I wasted a few minutes of my time for someone to delete this email and so many more.
    Thanks for nothing and when you awake tomorrow remember the face in the mirror owes a vet for that rich life you lead.

  69. Pamela January 22, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    I was exposed to the contaminated water in Camp Lejeune during 1985-1987, USMC, active duty. The VA denied my initial disability application, saying my diagnosis is not service connected, even though my symptoms did not appear until a few years after exposure, and after my discharge. All my symptoms fall under neurobehavioral effects which I have had documented proof of for 25 years now. My appeal has been pending review since October 2014 with no action taken to date. I get the same “copy and paste” response when I ask for an update. Feel like giving up.

  70. Gale Dorman January 22, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Correction, I was in Korea, 1975-1976 sorry for the Typo error.

  71. Charles January 22, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    One of the problem with the VA system is, they rate you at 100 to 200 percent but only give you 50 to 60 percent. If they charge there rating system they would not have the back log. I received 80% Service Connected Disability in 1983. The VA gave me 40%. I’ve been trying to increase my Disability seen 1995. I have an appeal in sent Aug 2015. I received nothing from the VA indicating that they had received my appeal. I ask the DAV about the appeal they said the VA do not notify appeal until they start work it. She said that would be about three years or longer. I told her they could acknowledge that the appeal was received.

  72. Gale Dorman January 22, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    The VA is an evolving organization, that strives to help veterans. The Doctors, and those who help the veterans really are trying to help us. They are all under the scrutiny of our laws and those who have the oversight of our health and benefits. Not only the VA but Congress, the Senate and our Presidents are all are responsible, as the laws that are put into place are unrealistic and are not to benefit the veteran. For every veteran that dies or does not get benefits, a pat on the back goes to the lawmaker who saved our nation a dollar. They may even end up with a pay raise or life-long retirement Most likely many of those lawmakers never served or had to work, a hard day in their lives.
    I have talked with doctors who firmly believed my illnesses was caused by my service connection. They could not document this as it was against policy or they said they could not look at my military history and make the connection even though they told me, yes I should not have these illnesses and it was more likely than not to be the result of my military service.
    I was also told by a former VA person that as an advisor to veterans, it was their duty to primarily disqualify individuals or look for disqualifying vectors for those who were looking to gain benefits. If veteran’s documents were misspelled, not explicitly stated as per regulation, requests were dismissed and the veteran would have to file an appeal or give up. It was one of the reasons he left the VA. He knew at heart that many of the Veterans deserved the benefits but if his numbers were not low in granting the veterans benefits, it would be caused to be dismissed from his job.
    It is the one percent that serve our nation, it is those same ones who get diseases that destroy theirs and their family lives. When a military member leaves the service and files come up missing, and cannot produce the documentation because at that time military members were not told of health risks such as Sleep apnea as an example. We’re not treated for the problem. In fact, if you got to get regular hours sleep on a steady basis you were the exception. If you pulled Officer of the day, NCOIC duties, fire watch etc. every other week and had to work the next day (yes even weekends and holidays) with little or no sleep and then had to go to the field for an exercise that resulted in many moves during the day and night then you can remember, how do you tell if it a sleep problem or a military problem? Who in the military heard of this in the 70’s and 80’s and even early 90’s. This is but one example. If you went to the doctor while in the military, it was not unusual to be told if you follow through, you will be discharged from the service with possibly only a few years from retirement, or worse yet not given the proper treatment while you were in service. Example in case, I was flown from the field during a field exercise by helicopter for not having a pulse that could not be found by the medic. I was told I had a very slow heart rate by the doctor at the hospital and I had suffered an angina attack. Just a minimal number of tests were done at that time at the hospital (angina attacks are a preliminary to possible other heart issues), I was released and told to go home and get some rest. I tell you this because the documentation was very scarce and the doctor did not explicitly determine the cause or try to find the root cause. When I was diagnosed as having heart disease, I was told that could not have been service related as nothing really happened to me while I was in the service. I had letters from my Commander at the time backup my story but that did not help.
    Another example, if you served in Korea, in an area that had agent Orange deployed (I was at Camp Garry Owens which the base was closed, because it was in the center of deployment of Agent Orange and was moved due to the high toxicity of the area from (Agent Orange)) and I was told by US government civilians (safety and environmental) who were in the area, that signs were posted of the contamination around the camp years after I left)). If you served one day longer than 1 day past the time limit that was doctrine 1971 by law, you could not be affected by Agent Orange (presumed) and get any benefits (by law), regardless that medically and technically, Agent Orange has a half-life of over 16 years and can become more concentrated over the years in the soil and water (I served in Korea 1975-1976, I just could not have been contaminated). But note that if you served in Viet Nam you could and would be covered if you have the same illnesses that occurred in Korea, that the VA has described and documented concerning Agent Orange, I do not know how this is possible, you can get diabetes in Viet Nam but not Korea or other illnesses.
    The fact, vital documents are not available to veterans and when released years later, sometimes 20-40 years later, they are not even considered as part of the initial veteran’s documentation when brought to the VA’s attention. Even when known to our government. If the veteran is lucky enough to resubmit, the process starts all over again for the veteran and another 2- 5 years of fighting begins. Surprising all previous submitted documentation seems not to matter.
    It was in the year 2000 that the VA released that Agent Orange was deployed in Korea, that was 24 years previous, 25 if you include when I arrived in Korea in 1995. Why did it take so long to get the information out?
    Another example in the last few years’ documents concerning Radar Systems used for decades by the Military of our country and other countries caused many types of cancers from Ionized and Non-Ionized radiation. Information that was available in the 60’s on the very systems I worked on in the 70’s and 80’s and early 90’s. It was very disturbing to be told that absolutely no way did my time in the service cause my cancers, not the Agent Orange, not the Radars, not being in the Middle east during bad times.
    Other nations noted in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s hazards of very same systems but not our government, at least in the sense they did not let their military members know or give the Veterans insight of the hazards they had worked or were working around. Those other countries, Germany, Netherlands etc. took care of the family of those who died from cancers and took care of those who were still alive, yes the have documented proof of the causes. Many class action law suits were performed, but our government through many of them out as it would affect many different companies such as Raytheon and other large organizations. This had nothing to do with National Security but company profits and monies that would have to be paid for treatment and benefits to those who reported that they had cancer or other diseases caused by these systems. Also note that after much of these documents were released on the intranet new manuals used by sailors, soldiers and others noted the hazards, required strict guidelines for use, restrictions, safety guidelines, maintenance actions etc. were enacted many years after I retired.
    One of the solutions to these quagmires would be that a master database be setup, with any documents that come to light that affect military members would be cataloged and available to all veterans and to the VA members granting benefits and to doctors who have questions. Documents such as those released years later that are known by the VA could be archived. If a veteran brings a document to the VA’s attention and it directly affects the decision on a benefit the veteran receives, this document should automatically be part of any other service members who applies for benefits. That one document would prevent possibly thousands of other veterans having to find the document and the VA reinventing the wheel for each veteran. If a military member was in a specific area, MOS, or job that shows they were in, around or had symptoms of a particular illness it would flag that record, along with other data that would show % of people who worked with specific devices, or other information, the numbers who have similar problems. This dynamic database with other issues would take out the legal time limits to have an illness. Example if the medical community states you have a high probability that after 10 years of being exposed to radiation and if you have any symptoms prior to 40 years a rule would be setup, if 40 to 60 another set of rules for the years then your benefit will be decided on true Medical and historical facts and not a guess by a paper pusher who has no idea what a particular illness is or what can cause it. The current rules and regulations would automatically address levels of disability. When as an example a person with thyroid removed and has low heart rate would automatically be given 100% disability. There is no wait if everything is documented. No one has to review since the only the doctors and specific people can input the data. Instead of paying people to relook at documents and appeals. Minimize the number of appeals shorten the process and maximize the researchers and programmers that make the database. Good data results are cost saving in the long run. If there are unanswered questions the database should be able to give local questions that would then be asked to the Veteran or medical team for resolution not just tell them “NO”, you do not get any benefits. Medical databases should be integrated with this database along with all hospital records, military records to include locations PCS to TDY and other deployments. Also any environmental inspections done at government reservations, sites example Nike Hercules sites. Sites where Toxic substances were found. Many of these sites contain high toxic levels of substances that could cause diseases. Databases of Jobs that have high noise levels. These detailed systems would cut down on the time for a veteran to get their deserved benefits and since the items are a known factor would give less stress on all concerned. Teams would look at the database making note of spikes of data that seemed irregular. The government would save monies; it takes a lot of manpower to put a veteran through repeated physicals trying to disqualify the veteran. To ask a veteran are you feeling good and making a decision based on the fact the veteran states a positive response does not determine that the veteran is in constant pain or the level of pain for that day is not as strong as other days. The veteran is not being productive when has to continually worry about the documentation or how he presents himself, factors yes, disqualifying no.
    Often veterans are asked or are told by the VA repeatedly that they were not in a combat zone, but yet my DD214 says I was, the medals I have, my wife will a test I was at war two or three times. If the veteran has an illness it is better to treat the problem, then wait for it to fester and get worse or let the veteran die. In the long run it cost the government more than the dollar it saved
    I spent twenty years trying to get my benefits and was turned down repeatedly. The past couple of years I received a 100% rating. I appealed not the rating but the findings. I was only given back pay for little over a year. Yet the same things that plagued me that were turned down in previous years were now agreeable for my 100%. I didn’t just get cancer. My Thyroid was not just removed twice (due to a very rare cancer, to my knowledge never had it in my family as many of these other aliments); my heart just didn’t get diseased. In fact, neither did my sleep apnea or my diabetes or the severe arthritis in my neck and back and countless years of Kidney stones, I could go on. I was told I had only 10 years to live but with all my radiation treatments I may be luck and live longer. Yes, I have prostate cancer to top it off.
    As a twenty-year veteran and retiree, I find nothing more demeaning when asked how much do I make. What I make today or yesterday, if I won the lottery or I am one with not a dollar to my name I have the right to my personal sovereignty. If I have an arm missing, a leg torn from my body, I am blind or have cancer or a disease from my time in the service. I should never be asked how much do I make. I pay my taxes and paid my dues. Whether I am a General Officer or a private, we all deserve the same rights. We not only earned them, we should demand them. This country which I love enough to server which every service member has pledged to defend should never be asked that question when it comes to our disabilities. We deserve to have the proper health treatment, benefits and disability payments that makes our lives more useful, promising and long lasting. We are not to be looked down at and discarded, but given dignity and a path to make our future stronger in this nation. Too often we are cut short with the mediations we can receive, the treatments available, a lot of this is changing to the good. I challenge our government officials to rethink cutting benefits to veterans, they should strengthen those benefits not belittle them. Remember we are the 1% who served who pay the dearest in health, challenges to keep our country safe, some of us die for the cause, some die because we did not take the time to care for them properly even when (the Nation) we could. No service member should ever be left behind! No wife or spouse should be left without the resources to live as they should with honor, dignity and the ability to hold their heads up high. I may live one more year or twenty, I want to plan the more not the less.

  73. Linda Ranes January 22, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    My story echoes all the stories above. My claim was denied,an NOD filed, appeal processed, remanded, hearing. These came with all the delays and frustrations. The reasons given for the denial are downright stupid.(heredity, I’m a woman, water was fine when I was there, and weak nexus letter). I was in the Marine Corp drinking contamated water at Camp Lejeune in 1967. My claim is for breast cancer. Because my mother(colon cancer), my brother (lung cancer), and my grandfather (pancreatic cancer) all died as a result of cancer, it is hereditary. A geneticist wouldn’t even do a DNA test because the cancers were all in different groups. One of the C&P doctors stated from what she read they were only interested in male breast cancer. At the time only 6% of all service members were woman, the ratio on one base was less than 1%. Why would they be more interested Male breast cancer? Maybe it was because it is rare and over 99% of the service members were men. She didn’t even examine me. The other Doctor I saw stated she presumed the water test in 1967 was unremarkable. For those who don’t know the water was contaminated frm1957-1987. If she read my file she would have known that. All claims for Camp Lejeune went to Kentucky and were decided by people who were supposed to be given all the known facts on the water contamination. For the appeal I have a 17 page nexus letter by an expert on the connection between chemicals and diseases. I had my hearing in the beginning of Nov. and the judge said I would have a decision in 30 days. The wait goes on. I won’t hold my breath foe approval because two of the reports were from non-VA doctors.

  74. Gary L Jacobson January 22, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    I filed a claim for an increase back in February of 2009. After a group of faulty exams, I had to go through the process of the “Notice of Disagreement” and the “Appeal”. I have requested a “Travel Board Hearing” and a “Video Conference”.As of today 01/22/2016, I have not heard anything from the VA except that they are working on my case. I have been through 2 surgeries for the same injury and dozens of exams. I have filed hundreds of forms and documents; some repeats because they claim they don’t have them. This disability has been ongoing since 1974. I think they are waiting for all the veterans to die of old age so they can delete them from the system. If you are an illegal immigrant or a lazy person who won’t work for a living, you can get free food, rent money and medical care immediately from the government. But if you are a disabled veteran who can’t earn enough money to live on, you have to fight tooth and nail to receive benefits that the VA tells you you are entitled to receive. And it takes forever. When we veterans were called upon to defend our country, we were right there! Now that it is time for the government to step up and supply us with the benefits to which we are entitled, the sweep us aside like we are criminals trying to steal.

  75. Bruce Warner January 22, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Sometimes they should consider the things that veterans are treated for and automatically add them to the veteran’s disability status if routinely attributed to military service. For an example, tiniitus and other hearing losses are greatly elevated for military service, so when a veteran is issued hearing aids and has not worked in loud environments since leaving military service, their disability rating should automatically adjusted to reflect the loss of hearing. or other disorder.

  76. Eduardo Chavez January 22, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Recently visited my VA Rep to understand why my outstanding claim of 1 1/2 years has received no response. To my disappountment the Rep tells me that he cannot represent me or be the voice on my behalf because of the claim that remains under review. And when I hear from them, without further personal review, they will rule denied!

    So we have an opportunity to voice our dissatisfaction and completely understand there are Vets with more urgent needs, but even they are not being cared for with the dignity they deserve.

    FREEDOM of Speech – thanks for the opportunity to express a frustration along with my other brothers who took arms to defend our country

    Vietnam Vet

  77. Edwin L Helvig January 22, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    I initially filed my claim for disability in March of 2005. Granted 100% disability from Social Security for my service connected injuries October 2nd of 2003 yet March of this year I will be in my 12th year fighting for justice from the criminals in the Phoenix VA. The Phoenix VA will commit crimes to deny medical or compensation including fraud, forgery, lose veteran supplied documents several times claiming they never received them even with registered mail evidence, claim they filed the veteran request for a BVA hearing in June of 2010, 2012, 2014 and again in 2015 only to lie to US Senators McCain and Flake not to mention the previous Secretary of Veterans Affairs who instructed them to order physical and neurological exams for me in 2013. Phoenix Service Manager Center Manager responded to all that this had been accomplished! Never happened.
    Doctors falsify medical conditions, refuse to review medical records and violate policies, laws, and their oath as medical Practioner.
    Then the Phoenix DAV not only in residence with the VA, but in bed as well; Manager of the Phoenix DAV informed me in January of 2011; “your problem is with the VA and I am not going to get involved”.
    Nothing has changed nor will it until these criminals are held accountable for their crimes

  78. Dr, Gerald Eugene Golding January 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I tried to get reimbursed for expenses at emergency room from a local hospital because VA Hospital was too far away. No response. Poor system.

  79. James McNeill January 22, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    I have been 15 years trying to get service connected for my back and legs from jumping out of helicopters 5 to 8 feet in the air with over 100 pounds on my back. I served with The First Air Cavalry Division from March 1968 to March 1969 in Vietnam. The VA claims my problem is not from my military service. I can not get a doctor to give me a letter stating “it is as likely as not” caused from my military service. I have no idea why they won’t do this, even when they tell me this type of problem is consistent with vets that were airborne.

  80. Rick Sturgill January 22, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    My comment is a little off key, but I feel the same as the other comments. My how the pendulum has swung. When I went in the Marines it was just at the end of Vietnam. I can remember bus drivers driving right by me (flipping me off) I can remember reading the signs (Dogs, cats and sailors stay off the lawn) and the name calling. I served 20 years and the two things I was told my entire career was that I would have health care and my GI Bill. Now I use TriCare and not VA but I have been told that I can’t be seen because they are taking care of active duty and don’t have the time for me. And I get pushed off to out in town medical offices. (they aren’t free).

    For me what takes the cake is that I have decided that I wanted to retrain, I want to become a faerie pilot to move airplanes from one state to another. I have been retired for 20 years and now I am told by the VA that I only had ten years after retiring to submit for education. I told the VA that I was never told that and response was (now i am stating verbatim) told tough, that I could attempt to make a appeal at Department of Defense. Well as of today I can say that my congressman who claims to be very pro veterans wants nothing to do with it, VA doesn’t want anything to do with it, Marine Corps doesn’t want anything to do with it, I was told that GI Bill to bad, but I could go claim disability (I certainly could but I have tried to manage on my own) and then I could qualify for disabled retraining education through the VA, isn’t that a hoot,,, I can’t get a medical certificate from the FAA to fly if I am disabled.

    As a last note I know of someone who I am associated with and he served for 4 years during that last conflicts. Got out made claim for PTSD, Was given disability, medication (not sure if still taking but suspect) education and now works as a gs civilian policeman on the military base, carries a weapon at all times on and off the base. In my mind i can’t figure it out. I feel that in all the media the politicians want the mass of america to believe that they care. They don’t that’s the dirty little secret.

  81. Anthony Dismuke January 22, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you, each of my fellow veterans. It’s been too long for many us to receive recognition for the extremely frustrating process of filing and receiving proper acknowledgement for the challenges faced from our time in service. To share my experience with this process, I have been fighting the VA filing and appeal for 20 years. I don’t understand how my claims are denied for injuries I am clearly being treated for at the VA Hospital. I was denied several times only to receive 20% after going through a Veterans Group. I am fighting through the appeal process with my representative and a Senator to hopefully get full recognition of my appeal. My father experienced being denied for agent orange only for the VA to admit his symptoms are related to exposure 40 years later. But he has to go through the appeals process to receive his benefits.
    It sad in this day and age with our advanced technology how something like paperwork, amongst other common issues, so easily cripples the advancement of those who have willing served our country….and would do it again if called upon.

  82. Steve Rhuman January 22, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Was rated 20% disability. Believe that is not sufficient as I feel guilty because I did not come home in a body bag. Upon returning home, I had to wear civies so i wouldn’t get spit on. Was called “baby killer”

  83. John C Mortimer Jr January 22, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    I am a Vietnam Vet (65&66), I was in the Martinez VA Hospital in a1988. I was detoxed sent to a residential treatment facility and turned out. I have been suffering with PTSD since I stepped of the plane in May of ’66. Finally in 2008 I got into the VA system. I filed for my rating on the PTSD and in about a year and a half I received 10%, which I appealed. A couple of years later I got a 20% bump to 30%, which I appealed, in Oct. 2012. That appeal is still pending. More than 3 yrs. I should have gotten treatment back in ’88. The VA has totally screwed me over.

  84. Leon Modrowski January 22, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    THE FACTS FROM A FORMER VA SUPERVISOR:

    Allow me to share my insights with those veterans who have experienced the nightmare of the VA’s claim process.
    My claims, all six, were filed in 2010. All six were denied.
    All veterans have a statutory right to (1) record a BVA hearing, and (2) requests a subpoena for records and individuals who will not cooperate voluntarily. A rogue attorney for the VA denied my rights and forced me to seek help with the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. When the court required a response from VA, the agency agreed to reschedule a second hearing which I could record. No ruling was possible on the subpoena as the court could only require such if my claims had been denied at that point.
    The agency sent me a pattern letter inquiring if I wished a second hearing and, if so, where. I responded, “Yes”, and sent the response via facsimile transmission. This was promptly misplaced by VA.
    A senate legislator, inquired on my behalf, and I had the second hearing.
    An administrative law judge (AJ) presided at the second hearing but who had scant knowledge of 38 USC and CFR. When I attempted to clarify the regulation on what is commonly referred to as the “helpless child” dependency rule, he said that was outside of the boundaries of what I was entitled to say, and he had already explained the regulation.
    When the AJ continued to deny any testimony needed to clarify or expand my claims, he abruptly cut me off and prevented me from any comment or verbal addition to the record.
    And now nearly six years after my claims, I continue to wait and wait and wait.
    HERE ARE JUST SOME OF THE PROBLEMS WITH VA:
    1. The VA is an executive agency and only the president has any direct control. And our current president has decided to leave things as they are. Congressional control is limited to funding, and cutting off funding is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
    2. The VA has chronically been evidenced as an agency prone to manipulating numbers. The VA requires an outside and independent authority to ensure the information reported is correct and agency senior managers are disciplined for any data manipulation or failure to achieve reasonable objectives.
    3. It is the responsibility for VA senior managers to eliminate the enormous backlog of claims pending at Regional Offices and the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). They are entitled to reassign staff to claims duties, provide training that is complete and thorough, and request additional funding. Senior managers have no one to blame but themselves for the enormous volume of claims pending. They allowed the problem to grow, and are now faced with something that should have never occurred in the first place. In other words, until the claims backlog became so unmanageable, no Adjudication Officer, no Director, reported the problem for fear that would negatively influence their opportunities for award or advancement.
    Lastly, I felt somewhat sorry for myself needing to wait six years without a decision. But in reading the complaints from other similarly situated veterans, I now realize how others have denied the opportunity receive federal restitution for losses typically received during combat operations. Don’t give up. Short simple letters to the president and your federal senator and representative will turn the tide in our favor. And most of all, vote in this year’s presidential election

    • Robert Steven Dawson January 27, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Better than writing letters that never get read or if they do they are trashed, I suggest using Social Media to let those who are not Vets but seem to want to go all out (think NFL) to show how much they care about us, that we are getting screwed by Washington. I have been sending the link to this blog to newspaper editors, Presidential Campaign Managers, TV News Stations and to friends and asking them to share this link on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Numbers count!

  85. Freddie Dean Harrell January 22, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    My thoughts for Solutions (What are yours?)
    1. Create a National team of NP(non-paid) Veterans that are actually experiencing the problems – issues.
    2. Identify the problems.
    3. Organize the problems in simplicity, priority, reality, and time.
    4. Use the 20/80 concept to address the issues. (work on the top 20% of the problems -80 percent of the problems will usually go away)
    5. The projects to improve the processes will be assigned to VA staff. The requirements for the projects will be defined by the Veterans. Phones will be used. (a new technology that aids in communications instead of pony express). Meet daily if necessary; instead of every six months). If the project can’t be done, it will be passed back to the NP Veterans team for review and re-implementation until a reasonable an acceptable solution is found.
    6. Again, there is a new technology called the telephone. It can really help with communications.
    It is not that complicated.

    • Robert Steven Dawson January 25, 2016 at 7:01 am

      Freddie:

      I agree!! Count me IN. Numbers matter and we are a massive number for sure. The American People need to hear about this and NOW (elections make a big difference). We need to use Social Media to post what is here so ALL Americans can see what is going on and not just those of us who are trying to live through this. Name names, VSO’s and VA Administration Staff names need to be made public.

  86. DG. January 22, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    I agree with most of the comments made to the contrary of the VA appeals process. The words that stand out most to me by these veteran stories are stall, deny, ambiguous and years. I am also in the appeals process for a matter of years at this point and I get the same ambiguous statement when I inquire about the status of my appeal (Data not available / VA has received your Notice of Disagreement. You will be receiving a communication from VA in the near future describing the next steps of your appeal.) It’s been that way since the start of the appeal. I’m really concerned like most that the longer a file sits somewhere, the less likely it will get the attention or consideration it deserves and as pressure mounts to decrease the backlog of appeals it will be easier to deny or not service connect in order to say it’s settled. So waiting you out saves money, because you aren’t receiving compensation and then a poor review and regurgitation of what was previously said with a denial or not service connected for many will assist the VA in reducing the budget and backlog. We are just some random number in our own files on someones desk it seems to the VA but unfortunately for all of us it’s our lives at stake here. Is that not serious enough to require more attention????

  87. WILLIAM M FLICK January 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    TO SAY THE LEAST I WAS TREATED VERY BAD ON MY VA CLAIM FOR PTSD AND MST I HAD 5 VA DOCTORS TELL ME I HAD MST AND PTSD AND HAD 1 RATING CLAIM DOCTOR TELL THE VA THAT THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME AFTER BEING HOMELESS FOR 12 YEARS/ GOT NO RATING

  88. Hiawatha Oakes January 22, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    I am 83 years old. Korea, Vietnam vet. Retired 1970. 10 Yrs USAF, 10Yrs US Army. Just recently October 2015 enrolled int VA Healthcare. I needed Hearing aids and Eyeglases. I recieved both in December at the VA clinic at my location. I concider this as excellent service. Currently being evaluated Hearing loss, Tininitice, Skin Cancer, PSD, Nuropathy. Like many of Vietnam Vets I more or less hade to self treat my depresion (PSD) as no help was available at Military sick call, it was suck it up and stop crying get your ass back to work. I thank God today that I am near a VA facility that is doing a great job in all respects. . .

  89. Rudolph Solis January 22, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    I put in a NOD on my refused claim. I was around ‘tactical weapons’ for at four years. The weaponry was stored in a large reinforced cement structure we referred to as an “Igloo”. The detachments I worked with had multiple rounds for Honest John, 8 inch, and 155mm artillery pieces, all were ‘tactical’ weapons. My job included taking Pressure Test Records on the HJ warheads with a precision Pressure Test Gauge. Every time the PTG was threaded onto the valve stem, a certain amount of Nitrogen Gas would escape.
    We wore no protective garb,
    We wore no protective respirators
    We were not issued dosimeters of any sort

    Within a few years of ETS, I started with Gastro Intestinal problems that plague me to this day. I also experienced pains in my larynx. I have an abnormal ‘lump’ on my prostate and I have lost a large part of my right kidney due to a cancerous cyst, and suffered “limited change disease” in which my kidneys started to shut down.

    I sent all my medical documentation to the V.A. on a CD (courtesy of Kaiser Permanente), but have yet to hear back from the V.A. I firmly believe that constant exposure to Alpha or Beta radiation probably present as the nitrogen gas was used to inhibit any corruption of the nuclear core and the associated detonators. Of course my claim was denied. The VA answered that I was never in “an environment that would have subjected me to ionizing radiation”.

    Better minds than ours I guess.

  90. Diane January 22, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    My name is Diane Feltz. My husband committed suicide in March of 2010. He was a Vietnam Veteran and was being taken care of for PTSD by the VA.
    The VA had him on at least 22 medications for PTSD. I was married to him for 38 years. I knew him better than anyone. The day he died he had an appointment at the Wausau VA clinic. He was to take a urinalysis because according to the VA he might have been over using his meds. The funny thing about this is that the VA was in charge of all his meds. They gave him a one or two week supply and he had no extras. I understand that before they took over dispensing his scripts they may have had a reason for a pain contract. The Pharmacist in charge of giving his meds forgot to give him his Prostate medications. So on that day he had trouble going to the bathroom, they even sent someone in the bathroom with him. So when he could not give them what they needed they refused to give him his 1 or 2 weeks of meds. I called the Pharmacist and questioned why he did not have his prostate meds. She stated that my husband said he did not want them anymore. My husband did not even know what he was on let alone tell her not to give them to him.
    At around 3pm I was concerned about the way my husband was acting and called his Social Worker (Chris). He never talked with my husband, just told me to bring him in at 8:30 in the morning. At around 9pm I heard a shot and we lived out in the woods so waited a minute before I went out looking for him and calling for him. I called my oldest daughter and just before she got to the house I found him. He was already gone. I do have a lawsuit against the VA for his death. They should have put him in lock down or drew blood. Not just send him home with nothing. I believe he would still be alive today. The VA has falsified the records for that day. A person calling himself the CSO of Tomah VA called that next morning and apologized, stated it would never happen again and that I had a tort claim against the VA. He stated I could do it on my own or get an attorney. The attorney I had did start the process with the VA but we were denied twice. The VA took everything from me, my husband, my home and my life, I can tell you 11 years before my husband died he would have overused his meds. He was an alcoholic and took whatever he could. I left him and he decided to give up the drinking and drugs instead of losing me. So for 11 years he touched nothing. I was so proud of him. Just to find out that he drank the night he took his life, which I believe he did to help himself deal with the detox emotions he was experiencing. This tore my heart out knowing how proud he was about not drinking all them years and to resort to drinking because of no medications.

    Now I have to go to Federal court to fight, what is fair
    I NEED AND WANT JUSTICE FOR MY HUSBAND AND OTHER VETERANS.

    • D'Ann Creel January 22, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      Diane, I am so sorry for your loss and the pain that you and your hubby went thru. I understand a part of it as my hubby was treated for 10 years for depression, PTSD and being an “alcoholic”. The VA repeatedly gave him antidepressants even tho’ they didn’t work, they’d just change it to another that didn’t work. At NO time did they look into any other reason for his symptoms. Turns out he had numerous TBIs and being on an antiseizure med makes all the difference in the world. 5 years later and he doesn’t drink….seems the booze works on the damaged neurons the same way the anti seizure meds do. I tell you this because I am positive the VA never went further into his history and diagnosis as far as any concussions he more than likely had…even minor ones…..they probably never did a MRI or CAT scan…. it was medically indicated…and any thorough workup would have included that. I don’t know if this would help your case, I hope so. Again, I am so sorry .