I’ve been reading these blogs for a while now and I understand the frustration some may be going through. I came home from Vietnam with very bad PTSD, have been in private treatment since 1969. I was an alcoholic till I had my first child in 1971. There was no Veteran’s organization to treat me for years, just lived with it and was tormented on a daily basis.

In 2009, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma and had my spleen removed.  My oncologist said it was more than likely from Agent Orange exposure and I should contact VA to see if I would be able to get compensation. He said he would give me copies of all medical records to verify the claim and suggested I apply for PTSD. I was very skeptical and didn’t want to file, but he said I was entitled and that he has treated and been successful in getting benefits for other Vets with the same condition.

My spleen was removed in June 2009 and I applied for benefits April 2011 for PTSD, Lymphoma, and for un-employability. A month later, I heard from the VA and went for a battery of tests including psychological. In August of 2011, I received notice that I was going to receive a 70 percent disability for PTSD, and that my claim for Lymphoma and un-employability was still being reviewed.  I have to say that I was totally not prepared for the decision to happen so quickly, but it did. Then in January 2012, I received notice that I was moved to 80 percent disability because of the Lymphoma claim—again I was shocked. A month later I received another notice that I will be given 100 percent when my claim for un-employability is reviewed. I haven’t heard back yet, but based on the past decisions, I expect to receive the 100 percent. My benefits were awarded to me in August 2011, but I was retroactively paid from the date of the claim which was April, 2011.

I think that I was a lucky person to be given my benefits so soon—which was not expected. I also have to say that the people and doctors that I visited at VA were extremely concerned about me and were much more caring than I ever expected, especially from all the horror stories I heard about from other Vets. I did not have an attorney or a VA representative help me with the claim. I filled all the paper work out myself. I don’t know if that helped or not, but it seemed like they would have rather worked with the Vet directly rather than a Veterans advocate.

To all of you Vets, Vietnam or otherwise, please don’t give up. You are entitled if you were affected by the wars exposure. I should have filed in 1995, but I was walking and talking and alive and didn’t think I was entitled. Don’t make the same mistake as me—file your claim and get your benefits. You deserve them. It took me a long time to realize that. God bless and Semper Fi.

Nicholas Dalia served with Charlie Company 1/26 Marines as a machine gunner in Vietnam from 1966-1968. He worked in the hospitality industry all his life and is the father of four children. Dalia continues to go to counseling at his local VA clinic and is now retired.

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Published on Jan. 25, 2012

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  1. Pamela April 25, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    A friend of mine was in the service during Viet Nam. While stateside (in CA) he was in a motorcycle accident that took about 1/2 inch off his left leg. He has had problems since then, but there are not many medical records other than his hospitalization (at Miramar), the findings of the Med Board (fit for limited duty to be re-evaluated in 6 months, and then his separation.
    He applied in ’04 for VA and was denied, but he will go in 4 May 2012 for another look and new medical evidence. He has a letter from his chiropractor. It isn’t much, and the dr doesn’t know quite how to write it.
    Any suggestions?

  2. Kelli Piperata Ontiveros March 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm


    I only started to speak with you over the past few months, but in that time I have learned what a good , kind hearted person you are. You give so much , and take so little. You have been helping me with the dilemma with my father and you have stayed in touch with me. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for you and so many other soldiers during Vietnam , or an other war. I have the up most respect for you. I am glad that our paths have crossed. I just wanted to tell you thank you again. Semper Fi Nick! I wish you the best in life , and I hope you regain your health.
    Kelli Piperata Ontiveros

  3. Angela Robbins February 14, 2012 at 11:10 am

    My husband, a Viet Nam vet, filed for benefits for Ischemic Heart Disease, by way of the Agent Orange Fast Track website in November, 2011. It said that a decision would be made in 30 days. Did I misunderstand the time period? I check for him, constantly, for the status on the website. But for the last few weeks the site says it is down for maintenance. Does anyone know about this and when it will be back up? The last time I checked it said the claim was in the development stage. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Are we looking at years for benefits?

    • Loren L. Morse February 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      I never listen to their time lines its not true. I had to wait 3 Years for my first claim and another 3 years for The BVA to make their decision, yes i was approved but it took a total of 6 Years. I don’t no about The Fast Track Claims process but i have heard its not what it seems. Keep fighting them and bug the heck out of them, use their FAX number and keep asking What’s going on.
      Never quit because thats what they want you to do so they don’t have to pay out benefits.

  4. Elbert K. Maddox February 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I found out about Agent Orange and heart disease from a chance meeting in a Dr.’s office. I filed for compensation in April of 2011.
    My claim was for Tinnitus and Ischemic Heart Disease.
    Six months passed before any action was taken. At that time I was informed that the Tinnitus would be processed through normal channels, but the Heart Disease claim would be placed in something called ‘Fast Track’.
    In short, the Tinnitus was approved, and disability assigned. The checks have been coming since about Sept. 2011.
    The ‘Fast Track’ must be a slow walk to hell, for I have heard nothing since Oct. or Nov. 2011 from the VA. At that time they requested more information about by whom and when the disease was diagnosed, which I provided.
    When there are two presumptive conditions (1. exposure to Agent Orange, 2. Ischemic Heart Disease) and both have been met, I fail to understand why it should take such a long time to be either be approved for compensation or denied.
    I hate to further burden an already overburden process, but gee whiz, a short form letter on occasion or better yet an update via email would be more than helpful and most appreciated.
    I am not much on begging people to do things for me, so I guess I’ll just set and wait. Another thing, I have tried to access several VA sites, all require a login and password, but it seems I can never provide enough information to be granted one, and there is always one more catch 22 requirement to be met.
    When I was first discharged from the Air Force in 1966, I contacted the VA about my GI Bill. This process was soon abandoned as far to complex and time consuming, and so until last April, I avoided the VA. I have to wonder how many vets, more deserving than I, have abandoned hope for help from the organization built only to help Vets.

  5. john r wing January 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    i had the same problem you did. but i joined the NCOA and they went to bat for me. 4 months and i had my benifiets.

  6. John Scott-Bey January 27, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Claims take a long time, As a Viet Nam (Ist Infantry 2/2 Recon 1967-1968), I waited over 30 years after I was register with agent in 1970 the VA said that I was disabled but said that could not give me any benefits because they did know the effects of agent Orange at that time and I had to wait. I went back in in 2006 with complaints of several sicknesses although they gave me benefits, I had to fight for every one, I now have heart problems and I am waiting again , I know there is a back log with the troops coming home and I respect that but don’t for get about the one’s that came before them . God Bless America.

  7. Gina Uribe ARNP January 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Congratulations for obtaining deserving benefits that you earned and were promised!
    I am a certified VA Comp and Pen examiner, who resigned my VA job, and went into private consulting for veterans, to assist them in filing for C&P benefits. So many vets do not know how to go about this, and frequently make costly errors in applying for benefits (usually, they file with incorrect terminology or worse yet leave out claims that they could file and receive benefits for)…due to lack of knowledge regarding how the govt recognizes claims that are eligible for service connection and how to put these claims in for the highest rating. I now help vets by obtaining their military and civilian records (to submit as proof), decipher the medical jargon in the records and develop claims AND SECONDARY CONDITIONS that are eligible, and prepare them for the exam (which I assisted the govt in writing)…I have worked at the regional offices doing expert medical opinions, and can help provide this when necessary for vets. I find that the VA regional offices deny claims due to their own ignorance on the multiple federal regulations that govern this process (ie recent denial that i helped overturn on a “blue water” vet denied for non hodgkins lymphoma)…check out my website for my credentials and services. I have 29 years of experience, compared to the 1 weeks of training that reps get, who may compromise your case due to lack of medical/federal regulations knowledge. Let me know if you may need my help….my website is http://www.vetcompandpen.com Vets should get what they were promised and deserve from their service to our country! I like your spirit sir. Vets frequently need a little push to not just give up in this complicated C&P system that the dept of veterans affairs has developed, which frequently blocks vets from moving forward with claims! Kudos to you

    • mike February 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      It seems like so many resign from there VA positions, really makes me wonder why that is the case. Its almost like they are there just to get some experience and then when they see what they’re up against they up and leave. It doesnt take a whole lot to figure that out. My opinion from what i have been reading is , nobody seems to care at the VA , so the good people up and leave to other avenues. Something truely needs to be done. This all makes me angry.

  8. Quinn Dahlstrom January 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    This is getting to be baloney I have sent in my late husband’s medical records, permission for them to check his records and the whole ball of wax and yet the VA has not contacted me in over 2 months as to what they are going to do or not do. I am peeved about this because I beging my application 1 year ago. I want to start my own application and watch it disappear into the throws of government — I was exposed to agent orange in a supply yard– where they kept barrels of it — yet I have noted no where does it say anything about the storage of the stuff as it lay penetrating the ground and the area around the supply yards. No where does it mention that agent orange was used to keep foilage down on bases in the U.S.

    • Gina Uribe ARNP January 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      what did you apply for specifically????what form did you use to file?

  9. Marcos Miraval January 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I was in the same scenario except I was in Army. I applyed for benefits late in 2005.
    My belief was that I would have a hard time with my claims.I am in treatment at my local
    Va Clinic for PTSD and other related illness due to Agent Orange exposure. I received 100% from Va in 5007 plus retroacitve pay. Thanks! Stay Safe.

  10. vets wife January 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Glad to hear things are working out for you, but i would have thought having a VA rep. working your case would speed up the process. That makes not sense if someone files without a VA rep gets faster results? Its starting to sound more and more like the VA just does what ever and when ever they want to do something. We just found out today, that if you file for unemployability it can take 18mths now due to the returning vets coming home. You would think that the VA would recognize that vietnam vets have been waiting years for there C/P already. Sry but i think there system is really messed up. How do they think someone is suppose to live for 18mths being unemployable due to them serving there country. Waiting that long for there C/P is just not right. I see why so many dont trust the VA system,

    • Jon January 27, 2012 at 10:51 am

      Someone’s lying to you, lady! You should do some more research. I can’t even figure out what you’re talking about.

      • vet wife says January 29, 2012 at 11:56 am

        Jon, im only stating what our VA rep told us, that if your filing for unemployability it can take up to 18mths for them to make a decission and then you still wait for your c/p checks to arrive. So i guess your saying they are lieing to us? Heck if i know, all i can do is believe what they’re telling us and this is there exact words ” with the returning vets coming home, these claims have been set back for unemployability vietnam vets and it can take 18mths before you will here something” My husband has been struggling every single day to remain working, but its getting harder and harder as time goes on, so we know its only a matter of time before he will no longer be able to work, due to his service connected disabilities. The rep said he will get unemployability but it takes 18mths before you would hear anything, so you have to plan ahead.(whatever thats suppose to mean)

  11. Stepfan Peterson January 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I’ve been reading these blogs for a while now and I understand the frustration some may be going through. I came home from Desert Shield, Desert Storm with very bad PTSD, have been in private treatment since 2007. I was an alcoholic till I had lost my Home. There was no Veteran’s organization to treat me that I known about for years, just lived with it and was tormented on a daily basis. I still Take medication from my VA doctor, But they seem to believed that medition will be my cure… Im here to tell you, you’re wrong..
    Stepfan Peterson RET USN
    And I need Help

  12. John January 25, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    As a Korean War Vet..Radio Intercept Operator who’s hearing deteriorated due to LONG sessions of intercept survielence (sp) would appreciate information on how I can receive VA services to regain my loss of hearing due to these rendered duties..Please advise!

    • Nick January 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm


      The first thing you need to do is get into the VA system. Once you register, they will contact you for a exam. After the exam, you then file for benefits based on the outcome fo your exam. If you have been going to a privater doctor for tretment, include those with your claim. That starts the process and you should hear from them in a couple of months. Good luck, Nick

  13. Carmen A Cantalupo January 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    VA tells me I can get anything and I was told I get Nothing but the run around Been trying for years to get them to help me Hey theirs the Door is the only responds I receive.

    • Shelshock February 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      You know what? I;m from the vietnam era, They called women in the Army Wacs back then. I was raped and sexually assualted in around 1978 and shortly an oversea resignment. 35 years later the claim has continuely been denied. But be that as it may.
      Speaking of VA entitlements. I’ve used them to go to college and I also bought my first home. Today I am still a honoralble discharge veteran considered among the 99% of civilians. But the only difference I can see beween myself and the masses of cilvilian during hard enocomic and housing time is that I am a veteran (homeless). And when casemanagers of the VASH-HUD (VA-HUD agreement to homeless vets) to me I had a choice to either give up my SSID income or the Section 8 Housing voucher under VA. Since I could not decied. VASH decided for me. Non-compliance they stated. HUD became bias in the decision. Me and my family became homeless. The final nail in this coffin VA denied the right to an appeal. OMG! After serving my country is this as good as it gets? Does no good deed go unpunished. Just call call me “Shelshock”

  14. Michael Neal January 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Nicholas’s claim greatly mirrors my own,I filed serveral claims from 1983 till 2005.I am a Vietnam Vet (USMC,Eco 2/7 1969-1970 and Desert Shield/Storm USAR 1990-1991). I filed for PTSD and COPD starting in 1992 and continued thru till 2005. I was awarded 40% for PTSD in 2004 and in 2005 I was awarded 30% for COPD, a year later I recieved Individual Unemployability.I filed all but a small fraction of the paperwork by myself but it was something I wanted to do. I fought that paperwork as hard as I fought in both wars. I believe it gave me a boost-up on my therapy. It made me feel very proud to be an American and A Veteran of both wars. Never give up ADAPT and OVERCOME ,SEMPER FI.

  15. Lemoris Alston January 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Mr Dalia, I am overjoyed that you had such success in getting expeditious actions with your claim. I have been waiting for 18 months while, the Lord knows what, is going on with my claim. It has moved forward and backwards according to the people I talk with at the VA. But the bottom line is I have heard nothing official. Maybe that is good news, who knows. I continue to go to the VAMC for what help that I can receive. The frustration is overwhelming.

    • Nick January 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm


      I understand your frusatration. THey have a website that you can log into to see the status of your claim. If you need the info, let me know. I would be glad to supply you with that info.

      Good Luck and keep moving forward. Nick

      • Chris February 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm

        I would LOVE that website address….

  16. Soloshadow120 January 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Here is what makes me mad concerning the VA claim process. I spent 25 years in the Army and just retired on June 11 as a MSG. I had back problems for 17 years. Then about 3 months, before I was suppose to retire I had major back surgery. They performed an Anterior and Posterior spinal disc surgery on 3 discs (L4-S1). I had to go through my Dr to get a medical extension for another 6 months. Here is a run down of somethings that I have wrong with me. I have Degenerative Discs Disease. DDD Cervical Spine along with B/L Hand Numbness/Tingling, B/L hearing Loss, Interverebral Discs Disease-Lumbar, Obstrcutive Sleep Apnea, Cervical Spondyulosis, Chronic Pain, Piriformis Syndrome, Segmental Dsyfunction of Sacoiliac Region, Lumbar Spondylosis, Lumbar Radiculopathy, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Right Elbow, Spinal Stenosis, Discogenic Syndrome, Herniated Sics (L5-S1), Arthritis (C7-T1), Eczema, Ulnar Neuropathy, Right Sciatica Nerve Syndrome. 2 Hernia operations. I did everything that I was suppose to do and I have medical prove of each and everytime I went on sick call, ER visit, Dr. visit and so on. But, I know of someone else, who didn’t have as bad back as I do, and they went through the MEB porocess and they medically retired them with 70% base pay and 90% VA, and he started to collect that money a month after he retired. And on top of that never left outside of the US. I served during Operation Desert Shile/Storm and on top of that I have a colonoscopy appointment next month, because since I had my back surgery my stomach hasn’t been the same. I have to walk around with a pillow if I have to sit on something that is outside and is a hard surface. now when I look on eBenefits it says that my claim in the Decision Process. It may take up to 16-28 days to reach a claim. How though if you keep on reading it. Those days are base on the average as of May 10. I can’t do nothing, because VA says that they can’t see me until I receive my claim percentage. WHERE is my help????

    • joubertor January 27, 2012 at 10:27 am

      Dear MSG,
      I feel your pain. I have been in the fight for 20+ years and have had to suffer y living homeless and in poverty and pain for all these years. I have had claims in and seen doctors and I get the same old story. Some people just get the help and others like me get shit. Im upset and love my service to my country but have been very discouraged and saddened by the thoughts that what I did for my country is not being returned by the promise they made to me with my benefits. That is the worse part of the whole deal. They have taken whatever pride I had in my service and trashed it.

  17. John Roane January 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Sounds good but as a 100% disabled Viet Nam veteran its difficult to call in to your primary physician to make an appointment. I had eye pain, called in several weeks ago left name, last four, and my cells number for contact and haven’t heard back since. I plan on walking in to find out what the procedure should be I suggest we all do that before we need to and get treated the same as I.

    • Loren L. Morse February 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      I am 90% Disabled Vietnam Veteran and i have been fighting The VA System since 1980 when i was discharged from The US NAVY for Migraine Headaches. The Navy was my career and than due to The Disabling Migraines i could not perform my duties. The Navy took advantage of my Migraines to discharge me Honorably but Administratively, it should have been Medical. In Feb. 1980 i applied for benefits and was told they would send me an appointment for Comp & Penn, i never received that appointment but they said they sent me one and since i didn’t show up for The Appointment they denied me benefits, after that i ended up Homeless for Three Years until i tried to commit suicide, a Social Worker (i will not name) at The Portland, Oregon VA Hospital saved my life and i was admitted to the psyc ward and was finally diagnosed for PTSD. Since than i have been trying to get my Migraines Service Connected from the time i filed for benefits in 1980—-I am still fighting for this. In my opinion of The VA Regional Office in Portland, Oregon–“The Benefits Councellors and Adjudicators Don’t Care About Veterans and Will Disapprove any claim that comes before them”.
      I deserve these benefits and they tell you to keep trying, Well its been over 40 YEARS now and i have submitted Clear and Unmistakeable Evidence (CUE) to Re-Open this Claim and yet The Regional Office sits on their Butts and hope i will not live long enough to get these benefits, its not their lives they are playing with, ITS Mine.

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