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About Firewalker

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    E-3 Seaman

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  • Service Connected Disability
  • Branch of Service

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  1. Hello All! So, I was initially 50% for PTSD and during my appeal I applied to VR&E as my therapist convinced me I should persue it and thought I would be a great candidate. I told her I wanted to become a therapist and she thought I would be great at it. She has worked with me for 2 years in both individual and group counseling and feels I have alot of wisdom and insight in trauma. Anyway, I saw VRE counselor last summer he said I definitely qualified as I had a severe work handicap and he said they would in no way pay for me to work in the psychology field due to my mental health history. I attempted to convince him, but he said it was a no go. Instead, he approved me for working with plants in horticulture. So I was approved to begin courses for this spring. While I do enjoy gardening and being outside, pragmatically, I really don't see this as some great employment outcome. After doing research, it seems that even with a degree in the field essentially, you will be making just above minimum wage....at best, 12 bucks an hour. So just last week, I received a call from my lawyer that my appeal was complete and the DRO called her personally to report that I was granted 100% P and T for PTSD. My current dilemma is this. I am not very passionate about the horticulture pursuit as a career path. I only wanted to go to school if there was an actual economic benefit that made sense and for something I was really interested in. I don't know what to do. I am also scared if I pursue this that my rating could one day be jeopardized. I have been homeless 2 out of the last 3 years so the money is a big deal. I dont want to go through that again. Any thoughts or suggestions?
  2. I just got off the phone with my lawyer. The DRO called her today and told her they awarded me 100% SC P&T for PTSD!. So I guess it was a good thing afterall! I'm in shock! I cant believe this great outcome!
  3. With VA They can't give you two Mental ratings/only One! That's what I don't get....Why did they add the Mental disorder if I'm already rated for PTSD and they can only rate me for one mental disorder? It seems like more work? They have me service connected for PTSD already so why would they initiate another disability in the same category? The C & P seems to say it is hard to differentiate what is influencing what cause my problems are all psych related. Are they trying to just combine all my problems into one mental disorder category? For psych stuff you only get 10, 30, 50, 70 or 100 percent. And since I'm all ready service connected with the PTSD the contention at this point is functionality. And I am 100% per their regs....My SSDi is soley based on psych stuff as well. I appreciate your input, however I still am not sure where they are going with this? Could they be trying to work against me saying I have mental disorder not service connected and deny my increase to 100% PTSD? Keeping me at 50%?
  4. Wow! That is awesome! Congratulations! How can you work though? I don't get that? Is it in a family business or something? I havent been able to work since 2012 because of my stuff and still fighting for the proper assessment.
  5. Hey Buck. Thanks for responding. I'm still confused though. My only VA disability is PTSD and that was rated at 50%. I filed an appeal for an increase and TDIU just in case they don't give me 100%. I've been on SSDI since 2012. I'm not sure what SSDI is for exactly...PTSD or Mental Disorder...I dont know. VA Homeless advocate helped me file that years ago. I guess I dont understand how the Mental Disorder new thing fits in. Are they trying to help me by getting that service connected as well? But I thought you could only get a rating on one mental condition. I'm really confused.
  6. I currently have an appeal for an increase in my PTSD rating and TDIU. I noticed today that the RO has added mental disorder in the pending disabilities section as NEW. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I never filed for this they just initiated it. Will this help or hurt? It seems alot of confusion in deciding my appeal stems from my mental problems and PTSD that cant be differentiated.
  7. Firewalker

    C&P Exam/ PTSD-MST

    I don't know what to think now with my appeal....The DRO ordered a new DBQ but just reviewing hospital records from April hospitalization....no exam with me present. That was completed a week or so ago. Today on ebennies i noticed in my appeal that they added mental disorder as part of the appeal with today's file date. Is this a good thing? What does this mean?
  8. Firewalker

    C&P Exam/ PTSD-MST

    Yes...last summer..None of this is good tho... I've lost everything since I started getting flashbacks in 2011...I have no quality of life anymore. I wish I would have never remembered any of this and I could have continued living the decent life I had managed to assemble....my home, my husband, my children, my work......all gone since spring 2013. Im glad that my intial DRO granted the decision in my favor but the decision is not accurate with the facts of my disability. I never saw this exam until a couple days ago though, that's why I posted it....her remarks are causing problems now with the appeal....all her contentions saying that my life is shit now due to alcoholism and bipolar and shitty childhood and everything and anything other than the rape. The issue is the severity of my functionality and why am I so dysfunctional. She didnt get that right either....I've been at 100% level since Aug 2012 by VA's PTSD functionality scales.. but she put me at this level in her report..... [X] Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity b. For the indicated level of occupational and social impairment, is it possible to differentiate what portion of the occupational and social impairment indicated above is caused by each mental disorder? [X] Yes [ ] No [ ] No other mental disorder has been diagnosed If yes, list which portion of the indicated level of occupational and social impairment is attributable to each diagnosis: Unspecified bipolar and related disorder causes occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity. Alcohol use disorder casues occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks, although generally functioning satisfactorily, with normal routine behavior, self-care and conversation. PTSD causes occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks, although generally functioning satisfactorily, with normal routine behavior, self-care and conversation. _unt!!!!
  9. Firewalker

    C&P Exam/ PTSD-MST

    Good question Buck. I ask myself that alot. WHY was I arrested at the scene? FUBAR!!! Assault and Battery I believe. I was covered in blood......and the assailant was too....I fought for my LIFE! He was trying to kill me...That's what people never talk about with rape and I dont get it....my rape experience was extremely violent and rageful,......Granted he wasnt as messed up as I was, but I guess they just wanted to remove us from the scene in the barracks and then question us separately. When they arrived I definitely was not hysterical...I was totally depleted...couldnt even speak....utterly exhausted....could barely walk...they cuffed us both and took us away in 2 separate vehicles and I have no idea what happened after that. I dont remember going to the hospital or talking with the MP's or anything....I remember being sent back to Ft. Hood and what transpired later. At the time I was traveling in a performing show....Army Soldiers Show and we were going to many different bases up and down the east coast at the time. I believe I was in Ft. Belvoir, VA but Im not sure...some base in Virginia...I remember seeing boats...Anyway.....the assailant was a 'friend' and castmember of the show. The whole think was surreal...like a scene from a David Lynch film...Firewalk With Me...bizarre! My disgust with this examiner is her repeated attempts at negating the event EVER EVEN HAPPENED!!!.... : The veteran reported that she was raped (see statement for details) and that it was reported during service. There were no records found in VBMS. then she does it again.... . There is no significant evidence of a military sexual trauma. She then goes on to contradict herself.... Describe one or more specific stressor event(s) the Veteran considers traumatic (may be pre-military, military, or post-military): a. Stressor #1: Rape in 1989 Does this stressor meet Criterion A (i.e., is it adequate to support the diagnosis of PTSD)? [X] Yes ... Is the stressor related to personal assault, e.g. military sexual trauma? [X] Yes [ ] No If yes, please describe the markers that may substantiate the stressor. there are no markers of the assault ....infuriating!! By definition...markers are the weakest form of evidence...like residuals.... Therefore, for PTSD claims relatedtoMST VA has relaxed the evidentiary requirements and looks for “markers” (i.e., signs, events, or circumstances) that provide some indication that the traumatic event happened. These include, but are not limited to: • Records from law enforcement authorities, rape crisis centers, mental health counseling centers, hospitals, or physicians • Pregnancy tests or tests for sexually transmitted diseases • Statements from family members, roommates, fellow Servicemembers, clergy members, or counselors • Requests for transfer to another military duty assignment • Deterioration in work performance • Substance abuse • Episodes of depression, panic attacks, or anxiety without an identifiable cause • Unexplained economic or social behavioral changes • Relationship issues, such as divorce • Sexual dysfunction After reading her statements I really wanted to get a thick lead pipe and do to her what was done to me....then when I was finished with her I'd tell her it was all in her head...it never really happened....condascending _unt....she would have never survived Im so angry I have to stop.... Anyway, I did get a rating of 50% for PTSD/MST 10 days later despite this examiner's ineptitude. I really feel like she needs to be held accountable for all the horrible things she said and her assumptions and insinuations after skimming over my life. Disgusting POS I filed my NOD 4 months after the decision and now my appeal is at the DRO's office awaiting a decision.
  10. Firewalker

    C&P Exam/ PTSD-MST

    Hey Buck. I appreciate you taking the time to read over it. Yh...I was infuriated after I read the exam....so much bullshit adlibbing and lies! She didnt even get any of the rape information correct either....there was no incident in Kentucky at all....the rape occurred in Virginia in May 1989....cops came and rape report was filed....and like I said...I was handcuffed and arrested ! then sent back to my permanent duty station at Ft. Hood where my NCO took pictures documenting how messed up I was and the doctors gave me painkillers and sent me home on medical leave for 2 weeks only to be shuffled around to other units afterward where the 2nd attempt was made and I fought him off ferociously and didnt bother reporting it because obviously at that point why...they did nothing the first time when I did report it ....oh yeah....arrested me!!!...the whole thing was a circus. That examiner is nuts....she says there are no markers and no evidence that it occurred(BS!!!) but then says I do have PTSD from stressor #1...the rape....huh? wth? make up your mind?
  11. Firewalker

    C&P Exam/ PTSD-MST

    That is the thing though....there is no documented evidence of any mental health diagnosis prior to me serving other than my own confession of a suicide attempt at 15. I didnt have any diagnosis of anything until after I served. In 1993 after I managed to talk myself out of the state institution....still crazy as hell...I walked 15 miles barefoot to the Baltimore VA Hospital twice and they refused to help me....I dont have a rating for mental health....I heard you could only file for one mental health condition or something like that so I chose the PTSD cuz the reality is after the rape I totally lost my shit in service....I truly dont think I have Bipolar....how could I if for almost 20 years I never took meds and was never hospitalized...that just makes no sense....Do you know how to gain access to psychiatric files for inservice time? I remember about 15 years ago I got medical records from the VA...paper ones sent to me and there were no psych records at all...that was the whole reason I got them!...Anyhow, I've been homeless so many times I dont even have the files they did send to me....you tend to travel light.....this whole friggin system is so hard to navigate when your head is as screwed up as mine...and my lawyer is worthless
  12. Firewalker

    C&P Exam/ PTSD-MST

    Hi Seminoles. Thanks for taking your time and reading over it. Im a nervous wreck right now....literally shaking. It was really difficult to post that. It took all my nerves. There are many problems with this exam. Many inconsistencies on the examiners part and straight out lies as well. I guess first off I just wanted to post it and see what people thought about the exam and its contents and their opinions on ratings outcomes then I would clarify things. I agree your points about mental health issues and childhood abuse are pertinent and need to be clarified. I had a very difficult childhood and I attempted suicide the first time at 15 yrs old. I was taken to the ER and sent home after the attempt....no psych evals, no hospitalization, no treatment, no diagnosis,nothing....that was 1985 in the rural town where I lived. A year later I graduated from high school and during that whole senior year the Army recruiter would come to my house and interact with me every month. Point being, if I was mentally ill or unfit to serve why was I allowed to enlist? Obviously the US Army thought I was fit enough to serve. Personally, I feel like that recruiter saved my life getting me away from that situation. My first mental health evaluation was in the service after the rape....summer of 1989. I have no idea if I was given a diagnosis, I was suicidal, alcoholic and they just shuffled me around to another unit afterwards. No counseling, no therapy, nothing. The rape happened 6 months before my ETS and I was so disgusted about what transpired( I was actually arrested and handcuffed after the rape cuz I fought back so hard and the bastard was xxxxxx up!) and how the Army didnt give 2 shits about what happened. Fast forward to 1993. My first involuntary commitment. 3 yrs and 3 months after I got out. I have no idea what the diagnosis was...I was totally insane in a State Mental Institution where more horrible traumatic shit occurred. My question is....how can they differentiate between childhood trauma causing PTSD or mental health issues or the rape being the straw that broke the camel's back? Getting a proper diagnosis is tricky too...Bipolar was the new thing back in 93 and it seemed anything they didnt know what to do with got slapped with that diagnosis. I've been seeing a VA shrink for 2 years straight now and he isnt convinced I have anything other than PTSD. From 1993-2011 I had no therapy, no meds, and no involuntary committments. If I were truly bipolar how is that even possible? I didnt start having any problems again until 2011 when I started having flashbacks about the rape which I literally had not thought nor spoken of since it happened in 89. That is in the exam as well.
  13. . Other, if any: No response provided. 3. Stressors ------------ Describe one or more specific stressor event(s) the Veteran considers traumatic (may be pre-military, military, or post-military): a. Stressor #1: Rape in 1989 Does this stressor meet Criterion A (i.e., is it adequate to support the diagnosis of PTSD)? [X] Yes [ ] No Is the stressor related to the Veteran's fear of hostile military or terrorist activity? [ ] Yes [X] No If no, explain: not related to military conflict Is the stressor related to personal assault, e.g. military sexual trauma? [X] Yes [ ] No If yes, please describe the markers that may substantiate the stressor. there are no markers of the assault 4. PTSD Diagnostic Criteria --------------------------- Please check criteria used for establishing the current PTSD diagnosis. Do NOT mark symptoms below that are clearly not attributable to the Criteria A stressor/PTSD. Instead, overlapping symptoms clearly attributable to other things should be noted under #7 - Other symptoms. The diagnostic criteria for PTSD, referred to as Criteria A-H, are from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5). Criterion A: Exposure to actual or threatened a) death, b) serious injury, c) sexual violation, in one or more of the following ways: [X] Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s) Criterion B: Presence of (one or more) of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred: [X] Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event(s). Criterion C: Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic events(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following: [X] Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s). [X] Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders (people, places, conversations, activities, objects, situations) that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s). Criterion D: Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following: [X] Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world (e.g., "I am bad,: "No one can be trusted,: "The world is completely dangerous,: "My whole nervous system is permanently ruined"). [X] Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others. Criterion E: Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following: [X] Irritable behavior and angry outbursts (with little or no provocation) typically expressed as verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects. [X] Sleep disturbance (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep). Criterion F: [X] Duration of the disturbance (Criteria B, C, D, and E) is more than 1 month. Criterion G: [X] The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Criterion H: [X] The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., medication, alcohol) or another medical condition. Criterion I: Which stressor(s) contributed to the Veteran's PTSD diagnosis?: [X] Stressor #1 5. Symptoms ----------- For VA rating purposes, check all symptoms that actively apply to the Veteran's diagnoses: [X] Depressed mood [X] Anxiety [X] Suspiciousness [X] Chronic sleep impairment [X] Disturbances of motivation and mood [X] Impaired impulse control, such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence [X] Persistent delusions or hallucinations 6. Behavioral Observations -------------------------- The veteran was seen for 60 minutes. Her VBMS file and CPRS notes were reviewed prior to the interview. It was explained to the veteran that these exams are not full psychological evaluations, but rather evaluations for rating purposes that include questions and language dictated by the VARO. The limits of confidentiality were explained to her and she agreed to participate in the C&P evaluation. She was alert, fully oriented and cooperative. She was well groomed. Her reported mood was good, her affect was flat. Speech and thought content were within normal limits. Thought processes were logical and goal-directed. No evidence or report of delusions or hallucinations. Memory and attention appeared grossly intact. Insight and judgment were intact. The veteran denied current suicidal or homicidal ideation. 7. Other symptoms ----------------- Does the Veteran have any other symptoms attributable to PTSD (and other mental disorders) that are not listed above? [X] Yes [ ] No If yes, describe: manic and psychotic symptoms are managed at this time with risperidone (IM) 8. Competency ------------- Is the Veteran capable of managing his or her financial affairs? [X] Yes [ ] No 9. Remarks, (including any testing results) if any -------------------------------------------------- The veteran's bipolar disorder, when she is noncompliant with medications or using alcohol, has contributed to severe functional limitations, loss of custody of her children, loss of her home and inability to work. She is likely able to function in a work environment that is low in stress as long as she maintains medication compliance. There is no significant evidence of a military sexual trauma. Nevertheless, her PTSD symptoms are based upon trauma experienced both prior to and during the military. She has been in treatment for PTSD since 2013. Her bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder, both of which have contributed to severe impairment in functioning, are not causally related to the PTSD. Her PTSD symptoms, when other disorders are managed, cause less impairment and have responded well to treatment. NOTE: VA may request additional medical information, including additional examinations if necessary to complete VA's review of the Veteran's application

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