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About PNC

  • Rank
    E-3 Seaman
  • Birthday 03/07/1952

Profile Information

  • Military Rank
  • Location
    Northern Michigan
  • Interests
    Hunting, fishing, oil painting, anything outdoors.

Previous Fields

  • Service Connected Disability
  • Branch of Service
  • Hobby
    Wood Working
  1. PNC

    Actinic Keratosis

    I wanted to pass along to my brothers and sisters in arms that there is hope, light and yes, even success at the end of the tunnel. History: I served almost 20 years, with 11 years in the Marine Corps and 9 years, 5 months in the Navy. My primary duties in both branches were administrative in nature. My final discharge was in 1989. In 2010 I was diagnosed by a VA Hospital Physician with Actinic Keratosis. Basically pre-cancerous and cancerous skin lesions due to the over-exposure to the harmful rays of the sun. I was seen off and on at the VA for removal of lesions through mostly freezing; cryo-surgery. After actual surgical removal of a lesion in 2015 I filed a claim for service connection. This was initially disapproved because the VA Physician who examined me at C&P (who was not a dermatologist) decided that because I had not reported to sickbay with a major sunburn and any time while in service and that my administrative specialties had me indoors, that over exposure to the sun was not likely. Bottom line: After filing a NOD which was disapproved, and then filing an appeal to that decision I was recently approved for service connection for Actinic Keratosis (Skin Cancer). Things that I wish to pass on: 1. I did this all myself without the aid of a lawyer or other representative. I felt that those people just would add another link in the already heavy chain of VA paperwork. Granted, not everyone could do this. But, being an administrative specialist, basically for the government, I understood the process, and just worked the system and was very patient. 2. My time in service was 1969-1989. Over-exposure to the sun was not taken seriously, and who ever heard of sun block? Not me and I am sure millions of others. It may only be a myth, but when your drill instructor tells you that if you report to sickbay with a sunburn, you might be charged with damaging government property. How many of you remember that? 3. Yes, my administrative specialty kept me indoors for 6-8 hours per day. But what about the rest of the time. PT, command formations and functions. How about liberty and leave? All time out of doors and all the time on active duty and subject to 24/7 recall. 4. I believe there were several things that won my appeal for me: a.) Finally having a C&P Exam outside of the VA by the new claims contractor QTC who knew what Actinic Keratosis was, measured the scars caused by the removal of lesions, and knew that this skin condition may not manifest itself in skin lesions until years even decades after over exposure. That the effects of over exposure are cumulative and that one really bad sunburn is not the root cause for the disease. b.) My argument was based on the fact that while I was an administrator, I was still a Marine and Sailor who was outside for a major portion of every day. That almost 14 years my service was in geographical locations close to the equator. And that having entering the service at 17 and leaving at 37 years of age; 70% of my life at the time I filed my initial claim had been spent in the active military. c.) And, while the current military recognizes the need for sun screen and skin protection (I provided evidence of current Naval Medicine Regulations), they certainly did not while I was on active duty. So, take heart if you have filed for service connection for Actinic Keratosis. There is hope. If you are seeing a VA Dermatologist, get copies of treatments and surgeries. See a civilian Dermatologist if you can. Explain your years in the sun and over exposure. Ask for a letter stating their medical opinion on the cumulative effects and the length of time it takes to appear as lesions and cancers. Use your memory and records to document your duty assignments and their geographical location. The closer to the equator the more dangerous the sun's rays are. If you have pictures of outdoor activity shirtless, in shorts, etc., send them along as evidence in your claim and/or appeal. Be patient and persistent. The VA knows that there are millions of us out here that most likely could claim the same thing. To me, a non-combat veteran, I liken it to the denials for Agent Orange. Many of us unknowingly were exposed in the performance of our duties. Mike H. SSgt/USMC and PNC/USN, 1969-1989 Semper Fi
  2. Thanks for this PCW. My NOD with additional evidence was received 1/14/16 at Evidence Intake, Newnan, GA just posted on EBenefits 2/3/16. Plan on mailing out additional evidence; MCRD PT and Parade Deck Photos, Shellback Initiation and Steel Beach Picnic photos on flight deck of USS Midway in Indian Ocean close to earth's equator, copy of VA's own Informational Poster warning of sun damage, and other information. Can not afford civilian doctor opinion statement but have also included online information from Mayo Clinic and Skin Cancer Foundation in evidence packet. Have also disagreed with C&P Examiner not being dermatology certified. She was an allergist and internal medicine specialist and only mentioned a "rash" in my medical records with no reference to geographically close proximity to sun's rays, nor the cumulative nature of it's effects toward later manifestation of AK. Have third treatment in a year appointment at VAMC Saginaw on 2/18/16 with finally having a biopsy done on one AK that just never has gone away and is beginning to look like one of those "horn" lesions (Squamous Cell?). Hope this helps anyone else with AK. Frustrating that the VA Docs do not review current medical literature available to anyone. Would save everyone a whole lot of time. Might actually make the VA follow it's own mandate to help the veteran file his claim.
  3. To wingnut73 - Thanks Shipmate. Thought I might have to go that route since VA doesn't follow own rules and Doctor doing C&P was neither a dermatologist or cancer specialist and didn't ask any questions about duty stations and conducted the entire examination from her chair about three feet away. Only reference in denial letter for SC was a note about a "rash" I was seen for. In your case did you make any reference to existing legal precedence cases or Benefit of a Doubt Statute? Clear now for squamous cell but going back to VA Saginaw in February for treatment and biopsy of a lesion that just won't go away. BTW spent 4 years on carrier USS Midway out of Yokosuka, Japan - Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, The Equator; etc.
  4. New to site but have already posted initial inquiry under PNC 1/23/16. Just wondering if CASDERUSSELL from 2012 ever got approved for in-service. Almost same situation. I was admin specialist for USMC and USN. Was mostly indoors but always outside for PT, formations, etc. For almost 14 years of my almost 20 years total active duty I was stationed in geographical locations where over-exposure to sun was highly probable.
  5. How does one prove in-service connection for Actinic Keratosis when problems and lesions may not manifest for years or decades following over-exposure to sun? Denied and submitted NOD.

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