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About mrthing2000

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    E-3 Seaman

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  1. I took a look at her post and I'll have to PM her on how she did it. I can't seem to find this (probably simple) answer--when I make a claim, is it for each and every condition in a system, or the system--which could have many parts. So something like pes plantus, broken toe, plantar fasciitis--for example, are all foot-related. And they all apply to both feet, except the broken toe. So am I making 1 claim, 5 claims, etc.? I've been reading the VASRD and probably confusing myself more than anything else. But at least its a start to see what is compensable, etc. I'm assuming that conditions that were present in the MEPS physical cannot be considered for a claim, unless perhaps they were 'aggravated' by service?
  2. Thanks--get right on that. Thankfully it was from September of this year. We were getting ready to move in October so it was horrible timing. I knew this would be 'strike one' and I'd probably get stuck going the attorney route. It absolutely killed me that I was 'missing appointments' I didn't even know about. Bastards. Had I known, I would have gone. Tell me about one 2 days after the fact?! 'Oh, you probably didn't get the letter yet.' I took extra care to make sure they knew I was mad about that, and pointed out that I'd need a jet to go 350 miles in 45 minutes to make a x-ray appointment on the same day. 'Oh we could make it for your town a few days later, if you want. We just make the next available appointment.' Do they just assume I have nothing to do all day except go to appointments all day, every day?!
  3. Thanks--I don't know if I expect the attorneys will make much difference in the beginning to me, since its either the VA and/or the attorney saying 'go do your homework'. But I'm finding as I already thought, much of the medical record is completely missing, etc. What remains is over 4" thick, and it has a lot of evidence (good). I was in tears reading some of it. There's a huge part of me that wants to give up on the VA process already. Its painful to relive a lot of it. For some of these claims, they are legit but I'm going to have a hell of a time finding evidence in support of them. I was hoping not to go the buddy letter route--one guy with the best knowledge was a tentmate, and a huge jerk. We parted on very bad terms. A few were like that. After being bullied by some of them, just the thought of contacting people I've tried to avoid for over 10 years is horrifying. I can get letters from other people, I suppose. My other problem I'm having already is eHealth, or forgive me if I am using the wrong terminology for it. Whatever 'the thing' is that has the VA Blue Button--when I use it, it is missing a ton of records. It shows some of the newer appointments, results, etc., but nothing from 2007 onward, except maybe a flu shot. 2007 was when I had a barium colonoscopy for suspected IBS/Crohns/parasite (which was 'inconclusive'), when I was diagnosed by the VA with depression, etc. All that was within 2-3 months of discharge, at the moment. I can't tell when I had the initial diagnosis for sleep apnea, but 'of course' I expect it was outside a year of discharge, just short of 2 years. I would like to figure out the IMO process soon. But for me, probably means I need to find an in-network IMO provider or prepare to pay $$$. I'm looking into the Burn Pit Registry at the moment, but not expecting anything on that.
  4. Thanks for the advice--this is truly great stuff and very helpful especially to newcomers to the process. Well, its complicated but I sort of was denied. The VSO here submitted a bunch of forms 'on my behalf' without telling me. I don't even recall signing them. I had butted heads with the VSO since she was unfriendly, hostile, and didn't lend herself to answering any questions I had. I remember that she printed off a bunch of forms, spelled my name wrong on them (and gave me the biggest eyeroll and sigh ever when I asked her to fix it) one form for each claim (I think), and told me to 'go check my records' and bring back what I had. Well, it took me months to get them and go through them--and then QTC came calling. No one had ever told me that QTC was a contractor that schedules appointments. Apparently the VSO had submitted my info in June, pretty much right after I visited. So now I was being scheduled for all sorts of appointments I didn't know about, one I had already missed (!). First thing I noticed, an appointment in the same day as another, but the second appointment was an hour later, and 350 miles away. But to be nice, they had included directions for me I talked to them about this, and apparently had an appointment scheduled that I didn't know anything about, and had missed already. And another one the next morning. Apparently QTC doesn't ask when you want an appointment, and think you never have anything to do. I asked to cancel these and allow me to reschedule--basically I said, 'let me call you'. And they said that was okay. I guess not! Sorry for the long explanation, but to summarize, I was denied on basically every claim because "I had missed my appointment" on some of them. Others said something like 'your service record has no mentions of....' (not surprising to me), and the others said something like 'there is something in your service record about this, but your claim is denied due to a lack of a diagnosis, etc.' So I don't know if the VSO had put these in as a FDC, or a standard claim. But filing it without me knowing it, especially when I was working diligently to get records--jeez. I am currently looking for another VSO. So, I guess I was denied by default. Makes me mad. As was typical in my career, always obstructed through no fault of my own.
  5. Many thanks--much reading ahead. For what its worth, is it worth it to get a VA disability attorney in the process, or does that complicate things?
  6. If the servicemember did not have a diagnosis in-service, does that change anything? I was diagnosed by the VA in 2009 with severe sleep apnea, given a CPAP, etc. But I left the service in 2008. Anyone who had the (mis)fortune of knowing me, knows I gasped and snored like a chainsaw. Reasonably I had it then also. But minus a buddy statement, I'd have nothing to that effect.
  7. Thanks so much. Its a daunting task and beyond complex! The VSO here was completely unhelpful, almost hostile to me. I'm looking at going to another VSO to see if I have a better fit. Or maybe just work without them. I'm spending a lot of time reading the Hadit site. Good info, though I come up with some very specific questions that don't lend themselves to easy answers. If I knew the answer to these 3, I'd be way ahead on the process: Say I broke my right foot in-service. But then my left feet had problems also. Do I file a separate claim for EACH foot? If I have several different issues for 'a system' (as I understand it), are each issue a separate claim? Or am I claiming the 'whole system' that could have 7 issues in it, rather than 7 separate claims? Say I claim sleep apnea--but they gave me a CPAP and it works well. In my head I still have sleep apnea. But the CPAP is effectively treating it. Is the fact the intervention is working, negating the rating % until it becomes uncontrolled/unmigitated/ineffective? Something like, you claim it, but they say your intervention is working great--so 0%? I could see this true with a hearing aid for hearing loss, etc. Hopefully you can tell what I'm asking here. Final question: is there a list of what conditions are under what system? Quite possibly I have no idea that something is claimable. I expect the VA to fight me on several things. I spent more time fighting the system than the purported enemy. At least I know the intentions of the enemy (!). So far my dealings with QTC have been idiotic. One appointment here at 10am, but at 11am I have to drive 350 miles for a x-ray? Seriously stupid stuff. Thanks for the support, and I hope to pass it on too.
  8. Hello all. I am new to the disability comp process, and I'll be the first to admit--it sort of freaks me out. There is a lot of complexity to it, and I consider myself fairly learned and understanding of science and causation. Years ago I interned at the local VA hospital, and my dad retired from 20+ years in the VA civil service. Its a bit different walking in the door as a patient. Okay, I had a book practically written below, but I'll keep it short: Really didn't expect basic training to be as hard as it was--the constant screaming, lack of sleep, etc. It WAS NOT like 'Scout Camp' like my recruiter and retired USAF neighbor said. I never had more than 1-2 anxiety attacks before this. It was a struggle. Took a psych eval maybe 2-3 days into basic training. I was referred to Behavioral Health for a followup. They were concerned about stupid things like "I weight myself often". Um yep, I was a bit chunky. Whatever. Released to duty no problem. Tore the heck out of my feet in basic training, had PT waivers, missing big toenails and a lot of pain for months, bled through my shoes, horrible. Post-basic training, tore hamstrings in PT session--put on about a monthlong PT waiver Developed severe bronchitis. USAF docs treated me like I was faking it. It wasn't 'a cold'. I got really bad. Nearly hospitalized. Took 3 weeks+ to recover Had an uneventful year in the Air Guard, then ran into some older guys who basically hazed me. I was about 3 paygrades lower, and 20 years younger. It was awful Broke up with a girlfriend after getting ready to move across country--my unit 'was concerned I was depressed' Had a field exercise that didn't go well. They asked for feedback in an email. Was a little 'too honest'. Nothing I said was wrong, but I clearly did not like where I was, who I was with, and did not trust them. Probably shouldn't put that in an email. To this day I stand by what I said. Some good guys, some idiots. Was sent for a psych eval for 'erratic behavior'. Initially cleared. Nope--sent for another one. I said screw that, these people are jerks, and I transferred into the Navy Reserve. Had 2 good years there. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Graduated college, moved across country. Wasn't enthusisatic about the hassle of drill weekends. Wasn't making anything as an E-4. Prospective employers were always wary 'so you can get called up', and 'oh, so when do you get out.' I realized I needed to cut ties. I was out of college. Did what I came to do. See ya. 9/11 happened and I was nearly recalled to Active Duty. But I lucked out, stayed in my civil service job, and was transferred to the IRR per my request. I kept up pooints for good years in the IRR, but had no real intention of going back. Had a change of heart, and economics were getting tight. Re-enlisted and went back to the drilling reserve. Found a loophole in my previous contract, and intentionally took a demotion to change career fields. Muhahaha. Then advanced first cycle each time. A year later, was an E-5. Took all the extra orders I could. Did pretty well. Spent a year on and off active duty orders in the reserve. Job market sucked and I liked traveling to new places. New York City was a highlight. Went twice. But wife got into nursing school. We'd have to move. You go where you have to. And she was busy as hell. Loans were piling up. I figured--take a deployment. In the meantime, I volunteered to go to New Orleans to help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. And en route, got hammered by Hurricane Rita there (anybody remember that?). Started having sinus issues from the mold that was now everywhere (not in my service record) Started feeling extremely depressed, slept every free moment I could (the post-deployment questionnaire shows that somewhere) A few months later, got the magic phone call. Deploy now if I wanted, but not with my unit. Or not. But I knew I would probably get yanked to go to Iraq with the Seabees (now I was one), Korea with the Coastal Warfare unit I was now in, or maybe not get yanked for a year. But eventually I would. Economics rule. I opted for NOW. But the catch was--it was with the ARMY. And it was a year-long. And it was Afghanistan. The deployment sucked--why would you expect different? I enjoyed a lot of it. But the issues I felt during Katrina got intense. The isolation from the real world sucked. I was fighting the 'just war'. But we didn't do much anything most of the time. We were ON the front lines. Basically not doing anything all day. I was trained for all this combat stuff, and was stuck all day on the tiny FOB. And if you don't engage the enemy, they come to you. First night of tower guard, gunfire. Turns out if was a runaway 50cal on a Humvee. Tracers into the sky. An accident. And accidents, more than anything else, were to mar the deployment over and over. In short: Stationed with ABSOLUTELY IDIOT medical types who didn't document anything. Totally worthless people. And now it matters more than ever. Broke a toe on my right foot (have the x-ray for that) Howitzers are loud. Mortars 40 feet from your tent are louder (tinnitus really sucks--but need formal diagnosis) Body armor and Humvees don't mix well off-road (2-3 weeks in physical therapy) Anxiety sucks. Got demoted with a feud with my CO, and he ended up relieved of command a couple of weeks later. But anxiety was worsening, and now I was having up to 15 attacks PER DAY. Son of a bitch tried to ruin me. Had a former co-worker I knew in my civilian days, take a mortar shell to the helmet. He woke up in Germany. 9 people didn't Had to go to a funeral for 2 fallen airman. They died in a suicide bombing--getting MAIL in Kabul--and if they waited 1 day, it came by helo. Some COs don't understand that's an idiot risk. Made a quick enemy with my CO over the issue. And then it spiraled. He demoted me, but then was relieved of command. LONG LONG story. Smashed in the face with a Humvee door (not in service record) Finally got tired of anxiety attacks, saw an Army psychiatrist. Guy basically said 'too bad, deal with it, and sent me back to the front lines'. Anxiety attacks now were almost continuous. Was deprived of sleep constantly because a few CO-loyalists though it fitting to assign me extra duty whenever possible. No joke--sleeping maybe 2 hours a night for days/weeks on end. Was sleeping instead of eating lunch. Slept every free moment I had. Base was attacked a few times. That sucked. But I was more upset about missing lunch--serious. Started to notice I was detached from my surroundings. Sort of felt invincible in terms of the war around me, but extremely vulnerable too. Was more suspicious of people. Feared my own people more than the Taliban--absolutely dead serious. Was stuck for months hosting the Local National Detail--basically locals who could work on the base doing menial tasks. They got paid for janitorial stuff mostly. And I had to drive and escort them to the BURN PIT. Sometimes 5 times a day. It was awful. And some Army guys threw ammunition into the trashcan. Nothing like rounds going off when you drive down there. Seriously. A car battery sounds like a car bomb. Crazy. Could have been killed by a mortar that blew up just feet out of the tube. Had it not been an illuminating round... Had many suicidal thoughts during the deployment. Instead, just volunteered for crazy stuff. Figured result would be the same. If we had any medical issues at all, the Navy tried to hold us hostage at Norfolk. I had to sign out AMA (Against Medical Advice) so I could finally go home after being gone 13 months. Post deployment: Had extremely strong irritable bowel symptoms 1-2 months later. This had plagued me at Fort Bragg and intermittently throughout the deployment. Had a barium exam. Horrible. Results: inconclusive. Something has plagued me since, and it has been 10 years. Very strong anxiety, PTSD, and particularly depression. Formally diagnosed at the VA hospital. Finally had something. Meds: Prozac. Moved across country for Graduate School: may have experienced a manic episode. Adjusted meds. Felt better. Diagnosed with SEVERE chronic obstructive sleep apnea by the VA. Been on a CPAP now for 7 years. Struggled with a lot of change. Medications had side effects, things were rough. Been on a mental health see-saw for years. Changed meds to Cymbalta. Bad idea--if I took it an hour later than usual, I started to feel withdrawal Changed meds to Wellbutrin to address worsening anxiety. It did not work. Had almost immediate depression severity. Had to discontinue after 3 weeks--was literally suicidal. Scary as hell. Change to Pristiq. Seemed better than other choices. Took that for 2 years. Moved again, new doc prescribed Lamotrigine as a mood stabilizer. Took for 1 year Recently, sleep really got bad. Prescribed Ambien Anxiety attacks nearly daily. Prescribed Adivan. Eventually doubled the dose just to sleep. Having recurrent dreams of being isolated, stuck in the Navy, in trouble, etc. Finally fed up with the doc, transferred to the VA. Initially thought the pyschiatrist was a bit weird. But she said a few things that amazed me. And unlike the previous psych doc, she listened to my concerns. Changed sleep meds to Tramadol. Changed meds to Clonipin for PTSD, anxiety. Still taking Pristiq and Lamotrigine. Feeling somewhat better but not where I want to be, but closer than before Oh yes, and my feet are killing me now. I wonder if my foot geometry shifted after the broken foot and basic training injuries Overall, its been a real struggle. Survivors guilt, being abused by some peers and superiors, some issues from PTSD, and a propensity to want to talk about things, but nobody wants to hear your story. No one. Everyone wants to believe the Afghan campaign was the 'right war'. And they don't want to know we tried but basically failed. There were no war heros in my FOB. One purple heart. A LOT of close calls. And tons of accidents. Tons. It took me almost 10 years to finally march myself into the VA and say 'finally, let's do this'. I have pain, nightmares, anxiety attacks, and I've not tackled them. I go to the VA and feel out of place--30 years younger than everyone else there. And 'I'm not as bad as that guy' feeling. And especially thinking someday about re-enlisting, and not wanting a foot of paper to need a waiver for everything. But then I realized, its very unlikely I would re-enlist. And I was getting older. I had the time. Let's roll. I am wary of the VA, just as I was wary of the medical departments all along. There is so much missing in my service records. Our unit corpsman didn't write anything down. It will be a struggle to argue service connectivity for many things, being that its been 9 years since I came 'home'. It sucks. I remember times/dates/places vividly. That may not matter. But its a fight many of you know all too well. I have questions. Many. And truly, thank you for your service. We weren't all patriots. Some needed money for college, others to feed their families. And many drafted without a choice. Most old, and a few young ones. But we are all veterans.
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