Hello Hadit Vets,
I ran across your website by accident some months back, and have been reading these forums with interest. I think it has actually been therapeutic for me to read stories from my fellow warriors.
I have always thought that even though I have "things that I deal with" on a daily basis, whether they be physical or mental, it's nothing compared to the sacrifices others have given to this great country, so who am I to complain? That thought process all changed in an instant this morning when my VA rep called an informed me that the VA was awarding me 80% disability. If I wasn't at work, I probably would have lost it emotionally. For my country to basically say "We appreciate what you have done, we know it took a toll on you, and we want to help you" is the most humbling thing that has ever happened to me.
With that said, in my readings on this website, not only has it helped me in so many ways, but I have also noticed so many questions from people about the great unknown that is the VA Claim Process. So, I decided that whenever my claim was completed, I was going to make a post on here with as much info about my own personal odyssey, in the hopes that it make help someone as well, or at least make for some good reading while you’re waiting on your own claim.
I retired honorably after almost 22 yrs of service as a comms guy in Navy. I've deployed on a ship to the Gulf, been stationed all around our country and the world. I've also made multiple deployments to Iraq, AFG, and many other places doing spec ops comms support for men who made me proud to be an American every day I was with them. Humbling doesn't even begin to describe how I felt watching these brave warriors take the fight to our enemies day and night throughout the many years I worked with them.
As my time in the Navy came to an end, and my retirement date neared, a very good friend of mine told me to contact this officer he knew that would help me with a disability claim when I got out. I never really thought seriously about filing a claim until that talk with him. Like I said, I have had things that I have dealt with for many years, but I have never thought of myself as disabled. Disabled Vets are the true warriors who have been through a hell of a lot more than me, right? However, I have always respected my buddy's advice, and ended up filing a claim, knowing full well that it was most likely for not? Yes, I have a limp, my shoulders hurt, I have nightmares, etc., but I have all my limbs, my buddies were never killed in front of me, I was never blown up, so why would I get disability? But I filed anyway with the help of a great Navy Doc, and encouragement from friends, Shipmates, and family. So here it goes......
· I got hooked up with a great rep from AMVETS who filed a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) for me in Providence, RI, the day after my retirement, on 2 Oct 2013.
· Contentions: PTSD (New), Depression (New), sleep disturbance (New), bilateral Shoulder Pain (New), Bilateral Tinnitus (New), right heal (New), low back pain (New), bilateral knee (New), anxiety (New), Bilateral wrist (New), bilateral calf pain shin splints (New), bilateral hand / fingers (New), hearing loss (New), pre- cancerous skin lesions (New), rest leg syndrome (New)
· In late February I first found Hadit.com. I enrolled in eBenefits and MyHealtheVet soon after.
· Mar 3 - Got a letter in the mail from the VA stating that they couldn’t do an FDC and were switching my claim to “normal” or whatever. I didn’t understand that, but no biggie I guess ( I read on here that it’s bc of mental health claims).
· Mar 4 – Got a call from the VA that I had my C&P exams scheduled for 6 and 7 March. One with mental health, one for shoulders, feet, etc., and one for hearing. I went to all of them, and they were uneventful IMO, especially after reading so many horror stories on here about these exams. I was simply myself, and spoke honestly about things, and the docs seemed to be fair as far as I could tell. My mental health exam only lasted like 15 min, and the other about 40 min. Both docs mentioned "your record had more than enough info" or something to that effect. The results were available using the Blue Button in My HealtheVet very soon after my appointments. I skimmed through it but didn’t have a clue what it all meant in regards to a rating, except speculation.
· End of March - my claim moved from Gathering of Evidence to Review of Evidence
· April 19 – moved back to Gathering of Evidence. They said they needed stressor statement from me for PTSD. Like others having a tough time with events that have happened to them, I did not look forward to writing about stuff, but my VA rep said just send a quick summary, bc he didn’t understand why they were asking for it in the first place. He sent it in for me. My claim moved back to Review of Evidence the next week.
· May 30 – Moved to Preparation for Decision
· Jul 9 – VARO called and asked me to send them more evidence, which I had and emailed right to him. Noticed my claim moved back to Gathering of Evidence and thought “Sheesh….here we go again….hurry up and wait.”
· This morning, Jul 10 – My VA Rep called and told me I was rated at 80% total, to expect monthly checks to start Aug 1, and that a retro payment will be sent to me about 6 mo from now. My claim also skipped to Preparation for Notification this morning.
I want to add, that the most important thing that I have received is the help in dealing with these problems while on active duty and when I transitioned to the VA. There have been so many bad things said about the VA health care, and the claims process, etc., in recent years, that I find myself lucky to not have had any issues thus far. In fact, it’s been the exact opposite. It took a long long time for me to realize some things were not right within me, and that I needed to ask for help, which I’m sure many of you can relate to. It was one of the hardest things I have done, but also one of the best things I think.
I have been in therapy weekly, and taking many prescriptions for almost 4 years now and it has definitely helped me cope with things. All of the things I claimed were well documented in my medical record, and I was certain that there would be no question as to whether any of them were service connected; I just didn’t think they would rate anything. (Looking back, my depression probably has a little to do with my thinking).
Lastly, I want to thank everyone on Hadit for sharing your wisdom and personal insight on things. They have helped me a lot, which is why I told myself that I would share my story as well, in the hopes that I could help someone out there. If you’re still reading, sorry if I rambled a little too much.
Thank you all for your service to our country, and God Bless America!