1st time VA user - Need help.

Fall in. Answer up. Be accounted for. Post a memory, photo, greeting or question. If nothing else post that you are still alive because some of us are likely to be glad you did.
Randyw
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:41 pm

It's been awhile since the last post, such is the wait time between the beginning and the ending of this process with the VA. However, at least it has come full circle and I have, for the most part, arrived at a conclusion. The VA has reviewed, poked, prodded, and delved into my psyche and as a result have decided to change my VA benefits and rating. It has been a long journey, and what a long strange trip it's been. I began this trek just about a year ago this week, when I reached out to those on this forum and asked for help. I did feel that I was alone at the time I reached out. Hell, it only took me nearly 50 years to get to the point of even asking for assistance in the first place, and to my very deep gratitude, many replied, offered help, insight, and support. While those who responded on this site were the initial push I needed to move forward, it was everyone who followed my progress as I navigated this vast governmental ocean to try and address some issues that have been with me for a long time. I felt I was being supported by so many comrades it made taking the next step and the next, and next; easier and not to let anyone down, especially myself and my family.


The ending process is far different than I believed it would be. First of all, if you are considering making your own journey to get, update, or change existing disability benefits, get as many ailments, mental and physical as you can. The reason is the final rating is based on all of the issues you have that "Could" have been caused by time spent In-Country. I suppose if you are suffering in the extremes from one particular ailment, i.e., PTSD, you might get 100% just on that conditions alone. However, when I received the letter from the VA describing their findings regarding my particular case study, I found that I had a 10% disability for this, and a 30% disability for that, and an additional 20% for something else and it all adds up to the end number, which ends up to be your disability rating. Some things you expect to be a no brainer, may not even make the cut, for me it was hearing loss. I could document the incident in detail, I tested out with hearing loss with an expert outside the VA, who, by the way supplied an excellent letter supporting my hearing loss, and was retested agian with the VA's 3rd party medical vendor, however, the VA said it was not enough. I felt like saying "What?, I can't hear you!" Still my best advice is to have as many issues you can relate to the war, get opinions with written statements from medical professionals, and follow the lead of all of the very supportive and experienced Veteran Readjustment Specialist, Veteran Organizations, and the County Veteran Representatives provide. Still the process is far from fair, and I can only remind anyone interested in moving along this trail, DO NOT miss an appointment set up with the 3rd Party Medical staff the VA now uses to evaluate you. Everyone, except the government, knows; Life happens. Look at one of our own who is clearly qualified and earned the right to be awarded benefits and disabilities from Uncle Same; Jerry White. He had finally decided, like me, with the prodding of those close to him, to get an evaluation with the VA, he received an appointment, Jerry was out of the country, and asked if he could reschedule, the answer was, not only NO, it was HELL NO!! Though he could appeal. That is not user friendly, not at all.


For years my wife and my family said to me; "Please, you earned this, go to the VA and see about getting help." I listened, though I always felt I don't have any issues to see the VA about. Sure, I don't have any male friends, my emotions might be considered non-existent by some, and some other issues I felt did not warrant a visit to either the VA or a psychologist. I finally aquiesced and took the first step. Today, after a year, after keeping so many emotions, anger, and memories buried, subdued, and otherwise confined to those deep dark corners of my mind, I am finally able to, at least, speak about them, and much of the guilt I carried around for so long because I felt I did not do enough, and I came home when so many others did not, is now manageable. This is a direct result of weeks of speaking with a psychiartist who was able to point out the flaws in my arguments and provide a different perspective of how to view events that were, basically, holding me back. And, here I thought I had done such a good job in managing those thoughts, keeping them under control, and have learned enough to play well with others. The point was, I really had not, and thanks to this push from my family, the support from those in this forum, along with their recommendations, guideance, and their own personaly experience, I am in a much better place now.


I know I will never be 100% removed from that land of the green latreen, however, I do feel as though a great weight has been lifted from me, and if nothing else may have changed, that in itself, was worth the price of admission. I know I cannot speak to anyone esles state of mind and what might or might not prove beneficial to you, my personal experiences might be less than, might be equal to, or may even be greater than your own. So, what I can say with total certainty is; we are not getting any younger, and this process is both tedius and quite lengthy. The point is, the moment you put on the uniform and more importantly, the moment you stepped through the door of that jet in Vietnam and walked down the ramp to the tarmac and had that overwhelming heat suck the life out of you as you entered the Vietnam combat zone, you have earned every single thing Uncle Sam has available to you.

When Ron, Charlie, Robert, responded with their support, guideance and recommendations, it made me feel as though I was not alone. If you are thinking, even just considering, if it might be worth your time to make your own journey, at least from my perspective now, I believe it would be. Your going to be another year older anyway, why not give the process a try, remember, you are the same men who, with full equipment, crossed rivers and streams, sometimes over your head, you went down trails that you knew in all likelyhood were booby-trapped, and after an air insertion, lined up side by side with your brothers and faced those green tracers, and never flinched, well, maybe flinched, but pressed on. You did it for those next to you, those men are still out there for you, I know, they helped me to press on. While a lot of my support came from those who posted, it was also all those who read my posts as I went through this governmental maze, and never left a comment. I figured; maybe, they are going through the same thing I had been going through for the past 50 years and possibly my posts will help them. Now, my journey is just about over, there are a couple of small things I still need to provide to finish the process up 100%.


So, with all the issues I have been dealing with, I went into this process with 10% disabilities, and after all the poking, prodding, and evaluations by the government, I ended up with 90% disability. Again, I wished I had done this many, many, MANY, years ago; It's never too late. Well, I have, and feel much better about the outcome, maybe not so much of the process. Though I do have to add; nearly every person who advocated for me on my behalf was understanding, looking out for my best interest, and professional. The funny part of this whole process is; I never once spoke to or went into a VA facility, don't know if that is an improvement from the way it was done before, however it worked for me. I hope, if you are considering this for yourself, it will work for you.
I still have to provide a divorce decree from my first marriage so my dependents will be added to my benefits, though after that, I guess, I will begin to use the VA medical facility close to my home to get some procedures done and start getting my meds there as well.


Finally, I just want to take this time again to thank everyone, those who provided recommendation, their own experiences, and to all of you who read my posts, you do not have any idea how much that meant to me and kept me moving forward, when I was ready to just say; "F%&K it! If you take the plunge, I want to wish you all the best and God Bless everyone who supported me.


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

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:02 pm

Randy, glad you got to the end of this trail and are satisfied with how your efforts were rewarded in the end. I appreciate your telling of what you went through. Maybe someone who is on the fence about seeking help will read this string and will be encouraged to seek help now that you have detailed your personal journey.

It is also important to realize, as you pointed out, that positive results aren't guaranteed....as per Jerry White's experience for instance. But as you also clearly state, if someone reading this is thinking they need help, if it takes a year, what else do you have to do that would keep you from also pursuing a possible positive outcome?
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:21 pm

Niner, If my description of what it took, the good, bad, and ugly, to get my outcome, and like you said, there are no guarantee's, that might allow someone to consider going down this path, I would consider chronicling my personal journey time well spent.

I appreciate all of your support during this time and you kind comments, it really did my a great deal to me.

Thanks,

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

Postby Delta75 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:38 pm

Excellent summary of your VA experience Randy!

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

Postby Randyw » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:38 am

Jerry,

As with Niner, I want to thank you for your support, advice, and your personal experience with the VA. I am not exaggerating the fact; continuing to move forward with the VA would have been considerably more difficult without the support of you and all the rest. Thanks so much for being there.


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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Niner Delta » Fri Aug 24, 2018 3:08 pm

I haven't said anything here because I had nothing relevant to add.
But I have kept up with this and am very glad for you that it has helped you
more than just getting more money from the VA. Of course the money is great,
but feeling better is the best thing. Congratulations on seeing this through.
You and Jerry are among the very few that I actually remember from back then.... :D


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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Niner Alpha » Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:58 am

I posted this at the 6th of the 31st Facebook page.

Robert Stewart shared a link.
13 hrs
Anybody get to the point that they think that they need some help from the VA but are sitting on it, because they always have saddled up and moved on, like John Wayne, and thinking maybe the feeling will pass this time, like always? Sometimes the things we stifle while busy raising a family and having a career are put on the back burner and run from..until we are old and we have to stop running. With family grown and the career ended the past catches up with us and we can't run any more. And... many of us would rather take a bullet than ask the government... the VA... for a damn thing. Well.... if you maybe have something eating you and you aren't turned off about the idea of thinking about what you can do about it... take a look at this string at 6thofthe31st.com.

A guy from Delta Company had a come to Jesus meeting with himself and decided to seek help. It took him a year but the complete journey is here.

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=4043
Randyw
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:39 pm

Vern,

When I first arrived back in-country from the Hospital in Japan, Delta Company was already operating out of Vinh Kim, as I remember, both of the FO's shared a bunker, and it wasn't long after I arrived at the new Firebase, we had an attack of sorts, very early in the morning, someone touched off some CS gas and everyone was scrambling for the berm. I had been issued a new 60 and went to the front gate that night, eyes and nose running and no gas mask. So I do remember you as Niner Delta both at the Firebase and out in the field. As I recall you were from Port Angeles.

I do appreciate your sentiments, and you're right, it's more about feeling better. A year ago, I probably would not have even responded to this and now I am not as reluctant as before. The key though was talking about it, actually saying, out loud, describing those incidents and what and how they impacted my psyche; instead of keeping those thoughts and memories bottled up as I had done for nearly 50 years. So it seems like there may still be a lot of possibilities out there. I certainly am not a medical professional, however, I believe talking about everything with the shrink and everyone else on this site, has been instrumental on my way to a recovery of sorts. I don't know that everything will be peaches and cream, however, I seem to be a damn site better than I was a year ago.





Randy Whitaker

1968 - 1969

Delta Company
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Randyw » Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:56 pm

Robert,

I hope someone reading your comments feel compelled to move forward. The one thing I would add, is that at no time during this process for me, at least, did I ever step foot into, or speak, with a VA representative regarding my situation. It was Veteran Reps, County Veteran Reps, 3rd party medical clinics, and so on. I don't know if this is better or worse from before with the VA. It seemed to work for me, and seems to be better for the veteran, even if the process is long and drawn out.


Again, please accept my gratitude for all of your personal insight and experience regarding your dealings with the VA, without your outcome, I would have been a lot more reluctant to continue to move forward, or just say F%*K IT!! I do realize everyone's experiences and trauma are different and the way they might have dealt or continue to deal with the emotion and memory of war. combat, and losing friends are different as well. However, at least for one soldier, it was a worthwhile experience for me.


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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Niner Delta » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:29 pm

Randy,

Wow, can't believe you remembered I was from Port Angeles, your memory is certainly
sharper than mine....... :mrgreen:


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

Postby Randyw » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:39 pm

Here I thought most of my VA experience was now behind me. However, I received a surprise in the mail today, I received a box from TACOM, II SC, Clothing and Heraldry Product Support Integration Directorate. What was in the box you ask, every medal, new, which were listed on my DD 214. With the exception of the medals awarded to me by the Country of South Vietnam, and one I received from the Defense Intelligence Agency I received all new medals, including a CIB, Expert Marksmen, Rifle and Auto Rifle.


So the journey continues and I am not sure why, I never ordered these medals, at least I was not aware of ordering them, however, it was a nice surprise. Perhaps this is part of increasing one's benefits, really don't know.

Thanks,

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

Postby Niner Alpha » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:21 pm

The Government will give every veteran ...or their next of kin... one re-issue of their medals and bolo badges if they are asked for by filling out some printed online forms. And the medals will be engraved on the back with your name... unlike the ones issued in Vietnam.

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

Postby Randyw » Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:42 am

Niner,

I didn't even check the back of the medals to see if my name was engraved on them. Still, you're right, it was a nice surprise. Though I still do not remember ever ordering those medal. However, I did fill out an inordinate amount of paperwork while going through this process, so I may have signed the correct form to order those medals and just don't remember. There is a LOT I don't remember all that clearly these days.

Thanks,

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

Postby Niner Alpha » Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:08 am

Randy, if they aren't inscribed with your name on the back I'd be surprised. If anybody is reading this and wonders how to get a replacement...free one time..... of your medals as listed in your records ....check out this post in the links forum. They will sometimes give you the wrong bolo badge... like I shot expert but got a marksman badge. And I got a good conduct medal that wasn't replaced for some reason...maybe never recorded on the DD214. Then there was the second green wiener that I was handed in the 101st but never saw the orders for. But... mostly there. And engraved.

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1090
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Niner Delta » Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:29 pm

I sent for them several years ago and they included a Good Conduct Medal, with orders, that
wasn't listed on my DD-214.

Robert, you got a Good Conduct Medal after 2 years and I didn't get one after 3 years... guess you must
have behaved better than I did......... :mrgreen:


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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Niner Alpha » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:51 pm

I actually have the orders for the Good Conduct medal someplace. Anybody want to see what one looks like? :D

I got a friend who will remain nameless who served a year in Vietnam and three years altogether and got a good conduct medal but didn't get an Army Commendation medal..... and he didn't get any article 15's to prevent it either. If you didn't get a green wienie you really must have been ignored and felt bad after the fact of not getting one in Vietnam.....and that is really sad...kinda sad anyway. But the Army wasn't a real people sensitive and well managed and employee aware organization. What could an at-a-boy arcom cost them? Probably cost them $20 each to make and box one...considering the volume. It was the Army, however.
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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Postby Niner Delta » Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:11 pm

I didn't get a Good Conduct back then, but did get 3 ArComs, 2 with "V" device.
There is only 1 on my DD214, because the other 2 have my Social Security number wrong,
but my serial number is right.... whatever. I do have the paper orders for all 3, so I
can prove they are real, but prove to who....nobody cares...maybe I do.... a little.... 8)
I guess those 2 tell me that I did step up and do some things a little foolish in my youth, and
I tell people the "V" stands for Vern..... :mrgreen:
I think most of us got an Air Medal, too. Maybe some day I'll put together a nice box frame
like yours, just haven't got around to it yet...... :D


.
Vern.

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