1st time VA user - Need help.

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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:56 pm

Randy, I think having this site and having made contact with guys I served with and also with guys like you who served there in the same battalion, even though sometimes in different years and different companies, has done a lot to help me make peace with my Vietnam memories. In addition to the site a major thing for me is that we do this chat thing on skype every Thursday night too. It's hard to believe it, even for me, but several of us show up every Thursday night without fail, if we are near a computer and have a connection to the internet...and all show up right on time. We've been doing it for years now. Maybe it's a case of "I'm ok and you're ok" ...or something like that keeps us hanging in. And the most amazing thing is that we only now and again talk about Vietnam.

Keep up the effort to make peace with your memories Randy. Your reports will help all of us in the long run. Maybe there is somebody reading this that will get some help after reading what you are posting.
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Charlie Salisbury » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:33 pm

I am so grate full to be able to hear another Nam soldier talking about their battles in their mind from this war!
My contribution to this situation is small, I hope your ending to this will be as good as mine ended up, that,s for sure! May GOD keep you through this time, you certainly are owed it!
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:51 pm

A question to those who have had either gone through the program I am embarking on or have otherwise tried successfully to get their VA disability increased, adjusted or set up in the first place. The question is; about how long does this process take? I realize it is different for each individual, and the variables probably include the VA facility you were involved with, one's particular military history, the doctor who gets assigned to you, and I am thinking, at least in the case where PTSD is being considered, the time spent with a Psychologist or Psychiatrist. Just a ball park figure would be nice.

One thing that Robert alluded to was the chance to talk to others who served, maybe not at the same time, but the same units and a lot of us under the same circumstance, helped him make peace with his memories. I believe there is some merit to that. I am not sure whether I am ready for that yet and while I will admit, the one re-union I did attend, down in Georgia, was close to therapeutic and cathartic in nature for me. However, it was about all I could do to face those I served with, and have not been able to do another one since. It did not have anything to do with those with which I served as to the reason I had difficulty facing them, it has been and continues to be the demons I am haunted by. Some might say, it is all in his head, and they's be right. My journey now is to hopefully change my demons to just memories.

Having never shied away from saying I am proud of my service and of those i served with, it is the twisted spin put on my memories that continue to intercede on my daily life in ways that are both detrimental and unforeseen; a fact that I have only recently come to terms with in both trying to understand and to vanquish from my mind. Thankfully, all who have commented and read my posts here have contributed to my beginning this trek and I, again, am very grateful.

Still, Ron, Charlie, and Robert have provided insight, understanding, and a first person narrative that has really helped me get started with this process. I plan on making it through to the end, regardless of where that takes me. These first steps would not have been possible without the contrabution of all who have commented and read my postings here.

Thanks for everything.

Randy Whitaker
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Charlie Salisbury » Sun Oct 29, 2017 10:51 am

I guess in my case Randy, I was pretty well messed up, so much so, that I was classified inside of 45 days and put on this program called The Fast Trac for Nam combat vets. They also had notes from me freaking out in a hospital, I was in the middle of dreams of ambushes I had set, they thought the pain medicine some how triggered that. Then I had gone to a Ft. Myers Vet center because in my mind I was coming unglued, the man I spoke to several times was a VA doc who was involved in Nam combat vets, just knew what to say to trigger my mind. He had me to draw out an ambush I set with the Cav. after I was done he got up and came over to me and told me to stand up, I was completely soaked in sweat, just plain agitated I guess, did not realize it at all. He took me to the VA at FT. Myers, the rest is history. I believe in the VA, and just by reading your notes, believe that you are going to get the help you need! In my case they keep me with a Doc every 90 days, in the group sessions I seem to cut up, they say because of nerves. It is very hard to talk about Nam, I am not at peace with every thing that I did over there, it is very hard for me to think I was involved in the things I did. Just very hard to talk about, in due time I hope to get pass alot of my demons. Randy, keep pushing forward, you will finally get to a place where combat vets can see they are not such bad folks after all. GOD has put you here for a reason, you have suffered enough! Charlie
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:47 pm

I hope everyone has a very satisfying Thanksgiving.

I have been through another session with Ms. Beltran. I have had to continue to dig deeper into those memories to draw out the emotions that a "Regular Person would have felt" before, during, and after those events that occurred to us, or me, in this case, over in Vietnam as a result of my combat experience. After each time I think I have remembered what happened, how I felt, what exactly took place, it seems I come up with another memory, not necessarily bad, just another piece of the puzzle as I try to put the thoughts in an order she can use to help assist me in my upcoming visit to the VA.

I still don't really get when Ms. Beltran says she is looking for those emotions that a "Regular person might have felt" not just the facts of an incident. I mean, for a regular person to be thrown into the hell of combat, without any training, without any sense of duty, or camaraderie, they would probably go crazy. The intensity of the whole event would be so overwhelming, a "Regular" person, would probably curl up in the fetal position and hope for a quick death. That's the problem I am having; we all were "regular people" until Uncle Sam got his hands on us. Then he rode us, beat us, marched us, ran us, and disciplined us right into what we turned into when an enemy, any enemy, tried to take our lives. We got angry, especially when one of our own would get injured or die and there was no one to take it out on, i.e., the booby-trap. With every explosion, with every cry of anguish, you got just a little more angry, a little more determined, and a little more focused on destroying the person or persons who were trying to kill you. Yet, most of time, the enemy was nowhere to be seen. I can't speak to everyone's thought on the matter, however, I can only say my anger grew to a point and festered there until I could find an outlet to get it off my chest, out of my mind, and direct that anger at someone or something. One of those outlets for me was January 12th, 1969. There were others, but that night in January when I kept getting shot at, kept getting wounded, really set me off. I took that rage out on the VC that night, trouble was, they took it out on me as well, and people died around me, my fellow comrades were wounded and were killed.

Regular people don't normally have that kind of rage nor do they live in such an unfriendly environment, and things I have been forced to remember were not, and are not pretty. If people died, did I do enough, should I have controlled my rage and stayed in one place instead of moving around to fight those fucking enemy soldiers who were trying to kill all of us. It was a decision I made for survival, did I make the right one? Could I have done more, should I have done more? I hadn't thought about that guilt for a very long time. That is one of the things that digging into those memories uncovered; a thought I had on the Dust-Off ride back to Dong Tam that night, right up until I felt that strange sensation of anesthetic rising in my throat as I finally succumbed to the doctor's effort to put me under.

So "What do I think a regular person would feel" seems like a stretch to me. A regular person would not have survived I think, a regular person would not have a clue. Still we were soldiers, we did what soldiers always do, we fight, not for some old fart in our government hierarchy, but for each other. I saw much bravery, I saw much courage, and even with their best effort, some still died, some still came away wounded, and most, myself for sure, came away changed. Changed in a not so very good way. Although, I felt a damn site better after being able to see, shoot at, and kill the enemy even though they did their best, I'm sure, to kill me.

There are still some things, I feel I am not releasing from those deep recesses of my mind, the guilt was one I had not thought about in a very, very long time. I think there may be more, different feelings a "Regular" soldier might feel, not so much a "Regular person" might feel. Those memories; they seem to still be buried and my mind is fighting back, not wanting to make it easy to uncover and to have to confront those emotions again.

I know, or think I know, I should confront those emotions to become whole again. The trouble, or the success, depends on how you look at it, I had putting those emotions down, burying them deep in the abyss of my mind and keeping them covered up all these long years, never to rear their ugly head again are beginning to stir. As a result of that successful burial so many years ago; I was able to live a pretty decent life, a life where no one but my deepest sub-conscientious was allowed to peek and it rarely, if ever did. Now with all this "Regular" people crap, it's beginning to bubble to the surface again. I am not sure I like the idea of that. Still, I am pressing forward, because I have heard and read, just on these pages alone, others who have gone before me have had various levels of success, I would like that as well.

It's those stories and and their frank, and to me, comforting, revelations that help me keep moving forward.

Thanks to all.

Randy Whitaker
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Ron » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:46 am

Randy,

Just wanted to say thanks for your appreciation of my help in you seeking a source of support for your ongoing condition(s). Please pass it on to any and all other Veterans who might be seeking service connected aid, to contact Vet Centers in their area or veteran organizations.
The assistance and processing is there for all of us, whether it's Korean, Vietnam or gulf era & middle eastern veterans. Don't wait until things become desperate and you're fitting another hurting battle long after experiencing combat. Do yourself a favor Veterans and seek that help that's available to all of us! :o

Welcome Home!
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Charlie Salisbury » Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:31 am

I am very happy that you are moving forward in this inner battle. I go along Randy thinking Iam really cleaning up my emotions and stuff, then bang, Iam right back there, right in the middle of some incident. It is very hard for me to get rid of Nam, just really hard for me. Also the VA does not want some of the soldiers I did battle with, around me you know? They say some of them are a bad influence on me.I suspect its the other way around, maybe I am the bad influence, you know? Keep up the fight, you will see a big change in yourself soon!
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:59 pm

Ron makes an excellent point regarding all veterans need to seek assistance from the services that are available. I personally wished I had followed his sage advice years ago. Regardless of how this turns out, without taking advantage of the services offered to us, I can guarantee the outcome, NO CHANGES. At least now, thanks to the support and the prior experience of Ron, Charlie, Robert, Jerry, and others have had with VA services offered to veterans, I am taking these steps now. I know everyone's circumstances are different, however, I can say, now that I am "In" the process, I really do wish I had started this earlier. Just as Ron alluded to, no matter the conflict, Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East, you have served, you have earned, and it is an entitlement that came from your blood, sweat, and tears. If you chose to brave the VA system today, you could be mildly or even wildly surprised by the outcome.

I will continue to share my experiences as I move through this process for medical assistance, for psychological assistance, for evaluation of any conditions I may have developed while in Service to this country. If any of you find this useful; seek out a VA counselor, seek advice from a VA representative at your local VFW, D.A.V., or other veteran related service organization, or go straight into the fire on your own. I am hoping I can say, "It's better late than never" so far it seems to be that way. Again, it will be different for each of us. Some will have to face demons that have been put, not so neatly, away for a very long time, others, whose demons still roam wild, will have a vastly different experience, I think.

In my personal journey, I have been directed to make contact with a psychiatrist as part of my evaluation, and one thing the Doc said made a lot of sense to me. "When you keep those emotions and feelings bundled up tight and believe you are in control of your emotional baggage and do not speak of them, they do not go away, they continue to influence you, on the other hand, should you chose to confront them, talk about them, deal with them, understand their influence over you, you will gain power over those emotions and return to a more normal life." Not sure exactly what that is, however, I wouldn't mind finding out.

Good, Bad, or, Ugly, regardless of how this process plays out, I can tell you now; now that I have begun, I wish I had started down this path much earlier than I did. if you're thinking about this, or you have emotions you are not or cannot control, or you feel you want to move forward with more emotional control in your life, please, consider the services that are available to all veterans.

Thanks,

Randy Whitaker
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Charlie Salisbury » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:03 pm

Randy, for me it changed my life immediately. To be able to sit with a Doctor and find and touch emotions that are in me from combat has been a life saver. I am not the same guy from 3 years a go, it's hard to explain I guess, for me the VA has been a wonder. They listen to you, their observations of me have really helped me to better cope with my life. I don't have education, it's hard for me to tell you the things on paper, I would be able to tell everyone better if we were just talking. God has truely blessed me with the VA I am involved with. I only hope Randy, that you will have the same possible out come that I did. I too wish that I had delt with this earlier in my life, but really after 5-6 turn aways, I just never went back. On what I know about my self now, I would of tried for help much more, that's for sure. Keep punching Randy, I believe something good for you shall come!
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:15 pm

I am well into December on my way to fixin what's ailin me and now I have had quite a few more individuals involved in my journey. I have been referred to a psychiatrist and have had 3 sessions with him, and just yesterday, I was referred to my Counties Veteran Center and was introduced to my next VA handler.

The psychiatrist is even more probing than Ms. Beltran in both his questions and his evaluations of the my answers. I thought Ms. Beltran knew how to press my buttons, however, the doc not only knows how to push my buttons, he is quite adapt at compressing those buttons to the point of pain. He insists it's good for me. He is the professional, so I am left in his care.

The thing about all this talking, it leads to memories, and those memories have led to past realities, realities I have worked ever so hard to keep buried. Buried so they'd not impact a "Normal" life. Personally, I thought I had done a very good job at controlling those emotions. Little did I know, and the doc has made clear, that much of what I could have done seems to have been restricted by things left behind on the battlefield. Things like anger, guilt, and a feeling of vulnerability. I believe that many of us, not just in our war, but most wars of our lifetimes, and probably all wars; lives would have probably been different for those participants, had their respective governments not turned boys into men then into warriors to be part of one the oldest professions in the world, the combat soldier.

Doc said my "normal" life has be impacted by those emotions I tried to keep in check and that talking about them, not letting them simmer beneath the surface and bringing the out to the light would benefit me, even now, all these years later. The juries still out on that thought, however, it is beginning to make sense.

What I don't or haven't talked about for all these many years are some of the reasons for my successes and my failures. That could and probably is true, which always led to my thoughts of a better life, only to run into emotional fences that were invisible to me; blocking my way. I have always thought I made a reasonable life and now, how my life would have been different. I also realize I cannot change the past, I will say, however, I am beginning to see the value in discussing a past and emotions buried and long controlled.

Buried yes, however, it appears I did not control those emotions and memories, they controlled me.

So, I have officially applied for a VA claim. I was told to file for PTSD, Tinnitus, Hearing Loss, and lower extremities. I have to get my personal physician, chiropractor, and psychiatrist to provide statements to support those claims. Most of the offices will be closed over the Holidays so I will pick up the journey where I left off; beginning in January.

I hope everyone who reads this considers the possibilities of seeking assistance, seeking help. I believe it is working for me; right now on a limited scale, and hopefully in a more impactful way as I go forward.

So I will say this to all of you, if it is within your powers; do have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

God Bless everyone,

Randy Whitaker
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Delta75 » Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:31 am

Merry Christmas Randy...glad to see that you are making excellent progress with the VA.

Jerry
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:28 am

Jerry,

Merry Christmas to you and yours as well. As to the VA, I do believe I am making progress, I am actually quietly optimistic.

Have a great 2018.

Randy
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Niner Alpha » Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:55 am

I'm following your reports with great interest,Randy. It's good to see with each new message that you seem to be more and more on your way to finding some peace with the memories that have impacted your life for such a long time. What you are doing for yourself is bigger than any Christmas present I can think of. Good you are making progress and sharing your journey with us.

Jerry, if you have embarked on the Vietnam journey you could tell us about your experience.
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Delta75 » Sat Dec 23, 2017 3:02 pm

Niner, we don't leave for Vietnam until Jan17; however, we are now preparing...buying all our required medications for 4 months, packing clothes, deciding what else to carry, carrying all my firearms to my neighbor for safe keeping in his huge safe, etc. Will drain the water lines and blow them out the morning that we leave our cabin....discovered a few years ago that "draining" is not enough for pvc piping in a cabin that is on piers. Water remains in any "sags" in the pvc pipe, and will freeze and shatter the pipes.

I believe that I have already mentioned to you that Lt Richard Dorn (Delta, 2nd platoon, 1969) will join us in mid-March and we will serve as his guides for one week.

Merry Christmas!

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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Niner Alpha » Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:31 pm

Looks like you have the preparations down pat now from experience, Jerry. Have a safe trip.
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Charlie Salisbury » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:17 am

I am really happy to know you are doing very well with the VA. I think that your experience is good info that other ex-soldiers can use, and maybe come forward to help! I like the one on one with the Docs, to me its better than a group session.I have been able to talk about things that were buried inside of me. They have put me on medication that has put a stop to the dreams I was having. Just the relief from that has been so helpful to my mind. All these years of dreams popping into my mind at night have stopped.....WOW! Randy, it takes great courage to tell fellow vets about what you are going through, my hat is off to you. Things will break for you, and I for one will be very happy for you and your family. GOD be with you!
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Ron » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:01 am

Randy,
It's good to hear about your progress in your much needed cure of what I call "a combat veterans ailment" where a shield has been placed about oneself.
You had a recipe for failure and I only gave you some of the chefs to assist you with the proper ingredients in seeing wonderful results. True, some temperatures and time will still needed to be adjusted, but in time everyone around you, including oneself, will compliment the outcome of your treatment. All it will take is a 'slow simmer' with the psychiatrist knowing how and what's required to help you. In time, between filing those claims and treatment, you'll begin to feel that load has been lifted.
I pretty much see some of the same issues you're going through as I have, in fact my wife, Jan, is viewing some our postings on this forum and has been pointing out some related issues. Is your wife reading any of this?
I'm not going to go into anymore about this matter as I'm sure you're in good hands now, but if, like I said, maybe if you care to give me a call (517-548-0650) you might want to discuss some issues or incidents further.
I'm not that far away from your residence, as I'm here in Howell. If you want we could also do Skype if you want.
Do what needs to be done, Randy, and soon I'm sure you'll be feeling better. Happy New Year and the best to you and yours, Randy. :D
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Thu May 31, 2018 7:31 am

It's been nearly a half a year since I posted last, such is the speed with which the VA travels. I have completed all tasks the Readjustment Counselor, Veteran Representative for my County, and the VA have asked, including seeing my personal physician, an audiologist, neurologist, podiatrist, optometrist, orthopedic specialist, and of course, my time spent with a psychologist. All paperwork turned in and I have been waiting for an actual face-to-face meeting with the VA to find out if they feel I am qualified, and, to what extent, to be awarded compensation for my Service Connected Disability, if any.

The reason for today's post is a change in circumstances I had not anticipated. It is nothing wrong, however, I just did not know, and no one in the process so far has mentioned this would happen. The VA, evidently, has partnered with a third party to conduct a pre-evaluation physical and consult with a veteran prior to the VA actually meeting with them. The meeting upcoming with LHI, the 3rd party, will consist of a Hearing evaluation, a PTSD evaluation, and a Diabetes evaluation, all in the course of one day; in my case, June 6th.

My question to all of you is; one, has anyone gone through a third party physical prior to your meeting with the VA, and two, how much emphasis do you feel the VA places on the results of this testing? The hearing portion of the meeting is what it is, I saw a specialist and submitted the results, and my diabetes and all the subsequent medicines prescribed can and do vouch for its authenticity, however, my main concern is with the PTSD.

I have spent the better part of 50 years struggling with issues, some out in the open, others, buried deep in the sub-conscientious, which, as I found out by spending an hour a week for months with my psychologist, have had a major impact on my life, livelihood, and relationships. Now I am going to sit down with someone for one hour and based on that hour will determine if my issues are real or imagined. Color me concerned.

Before I began this journey, I would have just said "F*#k it" and moved on; too much of a hassle. However, I believe I have actually been able to come to grips with a number of issues, some known and even some unknown, or, at least, issues I did not acknowledge. I suppose, if all I came away with as a result of this endeavor was to be a little better off mentally, I have to say, then it was a success. Unfortunately, that was not why I began this journey in the first place, my wife and family have been after me for the longest time to address my issues, to have the VA provide a medical support of sorts, what ever that means, and to not wait until it is too late, like dead and buried, to improve my mental and physical health.

I can't speak for any of you who may be reading this, however, I can ascertain certain mindsets of ex-vets, especially ex-combat vets and what some of you might be thinking; this journey is too long, "It Is", it's too much of a hassle, 'Right again", I have made it this far in my life without the VA, why start now, it's probably too late for me after all this time, "Still not sure on that one", and the one that I kept saying to myself, I don't want to be a burden; that last one probably doesn't apply to many of you, but to me, it's one of the reasons I have put off moving down this trail for so long. If any of those or other situations or conditions are preventing you or someone you care about from taking the steps required to address issues you have been dealing with, again, both known and unknown, you might want to consider taking those step;s to help yourself, for the sake of your spouse, family, and if you are lucky enough to have them, your friends.

To this point, I have found that everyone with whom I have had an encounter, in their professional capacity, has been kind, understanding, certainly demanding, probing, and in my opinion, looking out for my best interests and that includes those here on this site who have responded to my posts. It is a conversation I had never imagined I would have had with anyone else, EVER! It is not just those who have offered their support and guidance by responding to my posts, it is also those who are observing my trials and tribulations from the sidelines. Actually, your support has meant a lot to me. It is the kindred spirit, whether or not you have your own demons, or have already traveled down this road, you are my brothers, you have seen what I've seen, you have geared up and move down that trail, you faced your fears, you had my back, and I know for some, those memories do not go silently into the night, they can linger for a lifetime. So, again, I am grateful for your support.

I still have this upcoming meeting with the VA's service provider and the VA itself as hurdles I must overcome, however, I will forge ahead and see this journey to the end, for the good, bad, and ugly, of all of this. I now firmly believe this all is in my best interest.

Thanks for listening.

Randy Whitaker
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Niner Alpha » Thu May 31, 2018 10:13 am

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3rd party screening

Postby Delta75 » Thu May 31, 2018 10:44 am

Randy after all these years, after constant prodding by a friend, I finally met with a Vietnam Veteran advocate and he filed a claims form for me. While I was in Vietnam visiting my wife's family my neighbor who was screening my mail for me sent me a scanned copy of several appointments that had been scheduled with several 3rd party personnel (assumed to be paid for by the VA) . I contacted them and asked if I could reschedule as I was out of the country for 4 months (they were in San Antonio which is about 2 hours away from our cabin) and they said...No....that they would return my information to the VA and that I would have to work with the VA to reschedule. When I returned, I had received a letter from the VA denying all claims....partially because I had not been able to attend the scheduled appointments. They informed me that I could reschedule and to contact them as I has a year to appeal the denial.

I had assumed that most of my medical claims would probably be denied since most are all on the list of "not approved" as Agent Orange related...but.....just in case they are ever added to the list...I needed to make a claim.

The PTSD is another thing...they said that since my records show a CIB. 4 Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart....I could schedule an appointment to be evaluated....but after seeing what some of our guys have had to go thru to get any compensation at all, I believe that I will pass. I have apparently repressed it successfully for all these years, and I really do not want to re-live Vietnam in "hopes" of them agreeing that I have a "slight" problem...thus possibly "awarding" me a few hundred dollars a month. Heck....I am 73 years old with Stage 3 Kidney Disease (not recognized as caused by Agent Orange); therefore, I don't have that many more years to "repress" the past.

Good luck with your 3rd party screening...done I am told in order to "Speed" up the evaluation process, due to lack of enough qualified VA personnel.

Jerry
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Ron
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Ron » Thu May 31, 2018 11:26 am

Randy, I'm not sorry to hear about your venture into our world of VA claims, but upset to the fact it's what we now have to look forward too. "Been there, done that", but on a smaller scale as I dealt with only one (1) 3rd. party person for my PTSD evaluation, who I was informed was working through the VA as they (VA) was seeing an overload in claims. I'm not sure how much the Ann Arbor VA is handling our claim testing & evaluations, but then again I didn't ask or hear anything from my service officer on such issues. Took me about 2 in-person evaluations before the VA assigned a 3rd. party visit. If that came back a 'bust' then I would have said "screw it".
I believe we can't say "It don't mean a thing" as we've gone through too much just to throw it all away due to more system backup. Lift one foot in front of the other and push on, Randy, until your reach some degree of satisfaction through your service officer, American legion or other organizations.

How are you filing these claims; through VA Service Officer and their electronic processing or snail mail? I've noticed that some paper proccesses are not always the latest and greatest.

In the end I hope there's an easy solution to your frustration.
Randyw
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2006 2:02 am
Location: Rochester Hills, MI

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Thu May 31, 2018 6:52 pm

Greetings all,

Niner, not sure how the VA evaluates the hearing issue, the doctor I saw, a great guy, huge vet supporter, who provided a supportive letter indicating my hearing loss was most likely caused by sustained loud noise or nearby explosion that would be condusive of someone who was in combat for some length of time. That was from a doctor I paid for, so we shall see next week if the VA Nurse Practitioner who is slated to see me, will arrive at the same conclusion, if they do, you might want to consider giving it a try and see if the VA can assist with your loss.

Jerry, I am surprised the way you were treated by the 3rd party med team. I say that because I began receiving text messages saying I had an appointment with an organization called LHI, and they would send 3 text messages nearly every day. The text also told me I had up to 24 hours prior to the appointment to reschedule. Originally, I thought it was some scam and did not respond to the text. That is, until I received a FedEx from the VA with instructions confirming this arrangement, so I called and confirmed the appointment and will see what happens on June 6th. Apparently they will pay my travel expenses as well. What a coincidence having my appointment on the anneversary of "D-Day". I hope I far a slight bit better than our brothers who hit the beaches at Normandy.

Would still love to take that trip with you and your wife one day while I am still capable to Vietnam. I really would love to see the old A.O. one more time, with the locals, pleased to see me this time.

Ron, It does appear there is more minutia to trudge through to get to the actual VA now. You may be right, they are being overwhelmed by us Baby Boomers who survived and are starting to break down, both mentally, and physically. I am glad you have pretty much put this experience behind you, I am sure your wife is happy as well. Sometimes, I get pretty testy when I think of the reasons I am here in the first place and then think about my fate laying in the hands of someone who may or may not have had relatable experiences; who are otherwise going by some book that says if I act this way, I'm in or if I act another way, I must be a fraud. It kind of pisses me off and I'd really like this aspect of the process to be behind me.

All in all it was very nice hearing from everyone, I will keep you posted on my great adventure with the VA.

Randy Whitaker
Delta Company
1968 - 1969
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Delta75
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Delta75 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:52 pm

Randy.......as you probably already know...Lt Richard Dorn (2nd platoon/1969) visited us for a week in March. He stayed in a nice hotel in My Tho (($50 a night) and my sons and I picked him up each morning on my son's motorcycles to take him around the old AO. You would always be welcome.
Randyw
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Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2006 2:02 am
Location: Rochester Hills, MI

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:35 pm

Well, as far as I can tell, I have completed all of the requirements the VA has on its "to do" list for those wishing to establish a benefit or medical claim. I did go to the 3rd party health facility, the doctors saw me for hearing, PTSD, and Diabetes; and I must say everyone was very kind and accommodating. How their evaluation plays out with the actual VA remains to be seen. So now, I have my own recommended doctors, psychologists, and specialist reports, the 3rd party reports, plus I was informed by the County VA representative that the VA has ordered up all of my military and medical records. Up till that point I was in a category in which my claim was complete and moving forward, that was until I decided to add a letter from my shrink and the neurologist to my file, I found out my file was removed from that category and placed in a "Non-Complete" category. While still moving forward, I have basically been moved to the back of the line and will move forward from the time the VA received the additional documents.

My advice to anyone looking into going down this VA trail, please be sure to have all of your documents ready, in-hand, and any and all supporting documents before you get to the point where you will be turning in all documents for your claim process to actually begin with the VA.

In my meeting with one of the Doctors at the 3rd party medical facility, I was told to gather up all of my personal medical history and take them personally to the VA hospital and have them entered into my claim. She told me a lot of the time the VA relies on the preponderance of evidence, so the more you can gather and have included in your Claim File, the better off you will be. Now, I have two VA centers within a reasonable drive from my home, one, in Detroit, is newish, and is closer, the other VA center is in Ann Arbor; a little ways further of a drive. I am going to go with Ann Arbor, it is located in a College town, read that, LIBERAL town, and I am told the doctors all lean in that direction. So, at least in my way of thinking, I could get a better outcome if I am looked at by a group of liberal VA staff as opposed to those with a more rightward leaning.

Since I am more of a conservative in nature and do not always play well with others, I will make it a point to play nice when and if the face-to-face meeting with actual VA doctors, does actually occur.

As to the wait, I am back on the 3 to 6 month list while the VA apparently reviews, files, papers, awards, orders, doctors evaluations, both mine and theirs, tests, MOS's, authenticity, and anything else that can either approve or deny my actual claim. The way I look at it now; is if I only get a one dollar increase, it will be retroactive back to December of 2017 and I will get a nice fat check around $12.00 for the wait, hassle, inconvenience, and trouble of all of the hoops we are made to jump through as a veteran seeking to claim a benefit from Uncle Sam. You'd think we were trying to take money out of their pockets! I am half joking, however, the other half wonders why it takes so long, even before you actually get to see some actual VA staff member, and that....is no joke.

Still, as frustrating as all this has been, I am very disappointed, now, that I have waited so long to move forward on this endeavor. If any of you who are reading this and/or have been following the trials and tribulations of my trying to get a VA benefit claim; my only recommendation is, please seek out help or assistance with one of the many Veteran services, i.e., VFW, American Legion, etc, and most cities have a Veteran Service Center and often a County level Veterans service center. One of the best places I found to help was right here in these pages of the Battalion Message Board. All I had to do was ask, and those who had already been down this road were quick to respond with information that was most useful, timely, and accurate. I would say, without this group, both those who have actively engaged with me and those of you who are reading this, I don't think I would have continued. What I felt was the kind of support, at least for me, I needed to continue what I had put off, set aside, tried to forget about, for nearly 50 years.

To that end, I do gratefully, thank each and every one of you. I would not be where I am without your support and comments. That's not to say, the VA is going to grant my request for benefits, or increase my current 10% VA disability rating, all that remains to be seen. If not, at least I will not have to wonder what if? If they do, to what ever extent, increase my rating, well....Wooo HOOOOooo!!! For now though, I just have to wait another 3 to 6 months.

I was told at the 3rd party med facility that now, sometime down the road, I will receive a letter from the VA with how much, if any, my benefit rating will be increased and I will not even meet with the VA face-to-face. I am not sure if that is how it works these days, so it remains to be seen just how that part of this process plays out. I am also actively looking into the new Bill that President Trump signed into law that will allow veterans to use any medical facility to deal with a health issue. Sorry to say, today as I write this, I know hardly anything regarding this new law. However, if I do find out more, I will be sure to pass it along.

Finally, for now, I would like for all of you still on the fence regarding addressing your personal issues with the VA to consider getting the VA to process what you have coming and deserve. No, they do not make it easy, and yes, it is frustrating as hell. However, I can tell you, at least from my experience, everyone, from those in this group, to city, county, third party, doctors, and everyone else I have seen; everyone has been respectful, kind, and helpful when I explained what I was trying to do and answered all my questions of how I needed to go about it. If your still thinking it's just too much of an hassle, you'd be partially correct, however, we are not getting any younger, and now, when careers are ending, health insurance is climbing, old, lingering injuries, both physical and mental, are still their and perhaps getting worse. I believe and would certainly offer any insight I might have, I am sure others on this site who have been down this road, who have been so supportive of my journey, would offer their help as well. I would like to see you successfully on your way to some sort of a personal recovery; what ever that might mean to you.

Thanks everyone.

Randy Whitaker
1968 - 1969
Delta Company
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Ron
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Ron » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:02 am

Randy,

For someone who didn't know where to turn when seeking help from his fellow brothers you sure have a whole lot of info to pass on to others seeking help. You've come down that trail with us as your pointman, and now you're on your way to reap your rewards. Like they say "been there, done that" and the rest is history.

And you're very welcome, Randy, and hope everything works out in the end!



Ron Raymond

Delta Co, 68 - 69, 6/31st, 9th I.D.

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