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Joe Everyman

Seaman
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About Joe Everyman

  • Rank
    E-3 Seaman

Previous Fields

  • Service Connected Disability
    80%
  • Branch of Service
    Army
  1. Joe Everyman

    Just Another Noob

    Okay, that clarifies it for me. Thank you again, Berta. No, the character has always been honorable, but the reason was "for the good of the army" and they finally changed it last year from "unsatisfactory performance" to "physical standards". Sorry about the confusion. I will compose a response and use the IRIS portal. I actually had really good results with IRIS once before. I think you're right about filing it as a complaint because that was the only time I really received a rapid and positive response to my queries. It must send a flag to important personnel when a veteran uses IRIS as a valid complaint channel. I really appreciate the advice.
  2. Joe Everyman

    Just Another Noob

    Berta, thank you so much for the info. It was the Atlanta RO that decided my claim. I live in central Georgia, so it's not easy getting to Atlanta to address my issues. I've pretty much had to go it alone because I've found that the service organizations don't really assist in complicated matters. For instance, I tried many times to get information from various service organizations about how to change the REASON for discharge on my DD-214. Most didn't return my e-mails or phone calls. One guy asked me, "Well, what do you want to do that for?" Gee, I don't know, maybe it's because the Army screwed me over when it said that I had to be put out for "unsatisfactory performance" when the fault was not my own. Should I have them CUE back to an earlier date--say, initial service connection, since the fracture was never mentioned to me nor was a bone scan done? Or should I have them CUE back to the 2002 decision, or just this latest denial? How do I get the VHA to change my coding from "Back Strain" to whatever is actually wrong with me? I will try to be kind when I do it. Thank you.
  3. Joe Everyman

    Just Another Noob

    Thanks, Broncovet. I really need some advice, but I'm not sure where to begin or if I should start a new post, since this has been moved to the research board. Maybe I'll try posting it here and see if anyone responds. I was struck in the tailbone with a tire rim while doing my job in 1994. When I exited from service I was rated 10% for "low back and coccyx disability" and listed among the reasons and bases on their rating decision it states, "Service medical records note that in June, 1994 the veteran suffered trauma to the low back and tailbone." The radiology report for my initial C&P exam actually states the following: "Sacrum & coccyx: reveals some right lateral deviation of the last coccyx segment. This may represent a congenital variant, or maybe on the bases of a dislocation or possible fracture. If clinically warranted, a bone scan utilizing special sacral & coccyx views may be of value." The VA doctor put in the official "C&P Final Report" the following however: "Sacrum and coccyx revealed some right lateral deviation of the last coccyx segment, which may be congenital variable." At the actual exam, the doctor actually told me that the only thing the VA could do for me would be to have me come in once a month for physical therapy at which they would attempt to massage my coccyx. He failed to explain how this would in any way alleviate my pain. I couldn't make something like that up. For this, combined with osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine, I received a 10% disability. NOBODY EVER MENTIONED THAT MY TAILBONE MIGHT BE FRACTURED OR THAT I SHOULD HAVE A BONE SCAN DONE. After a couple of years, I decided to ask them to rate my tailbone or coccyx injury as a separate injury, and their official response, of which I no longer seem to possess a copy, was that they would not rate my tailbone injury separately because it was evaluated as part of the entire rating for my back condition. In 2002, they decided to increase my disability rating to 20% with no need to appeal, but they began referring to it as "osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine with coccygeus-sacral muscle spasm. Fastforward to 2007, I'm at a C&P exam for depressive disorder, and the VA quack proceeds to tell me that there is nothing more wrong with me than a strained back and that I'm just trying to get an increase in compensation by lying to the VA. I told him that that was not what the VA record showed and appealed the decision--ultimately winning in 2009. Fastforward to 2009, I'm at a VA clinic, and a staff member hands me a copy of my diagnoses print out to carry to the font desk. I read it over and was amazed and angered to discover that it actually says in the list of diagnoses, "Back Strain". I complain to the VA and the VHA, I complain to the hospital and to the patient representative department. They assure me that they have fixed the coding to reflect my actual service connected condition. I check up a couple of days later at the clinic and it still says "Back Strain". Now, fastforward to this past month. I get a response from the VA denying a claim for increased compensation for my back condition. This is their reasoning in a nutshell (the spelling and grammar mistakes are as they appear in the official paperwork): "examiner notes history of your back disability since 1993" "you reported symptoms of pain the lower back area that radiates into the sacrum and into the left hip area" blah blah blah blah... I'm skipping their break down regarding my osteoarthritis "The examiner notes a diagnosis of lumbar osteoarthritis with left sacroiliac dysfunction and coccydynia." blah blah blah blah... lots of notes about why my back condition is less disabling due to a change in the law even though the symptoms have worsened since the last C&P for my osteoarthritis... plus its normal for someone of my stature and frame... blah blah blah "the examiner reviewed the medical evidence an opined the athe current lumbar osteoarthritis with left sacroiliac dysfunction and coccydynia are at least as likely as not caused by the osteoarthritis of lumbar spine with coccygeus sacral muscle spasm" "based on a review of your records and historical account of your military injury the examiner states that you portray a classic type of mechanism of injury would have torqued your pelvis and led to a sacroiliac dysfunction which would involve muscle tightness and spasms of the coccygeus sacral area muscles. The examiner further notes that this process has nothing to do with osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine, and is a separate injury and or condition; most likely this is the main generator of your pain, not the osteoarthritis of the spine which is an age appropriate... blah blah blah" "The evidence does not show that torqued sacrum is related to the service connected condition of osteoarthritis of lumbar spine with coccygeus sacral muscle spasm, nor is there any evidence of this disability during military service." Long story short--osteoarthritis of lumbar spine with coccygeal sacral muscle spasm still only 20% disabling... claimed condition of torqued sacrum is denied for service connection... I sent away for the medical records from the C&P exam. This is what they reveal: 1. radiology report from this year: "x-rays of the sacrum and coccyx show calcific density on the right side of one of the lower sacral segments, which may represent old fracture at that site. Clinical correlation suggested. Radiolucent line seen in the segment just above this may be secondary to trauma... etc." 2. C&P examiner's actual notes: "Summary of all problems, diagnoses, and functional effects: Diagnosis: Lumbar osteoarthritis with left sacroiliac dysfunction and coccydynia" 3. C&P examiner's actual opinion in its entirety: "I opine that the veterans current lumbar osteoarthritis with left sacroiliac dysfunction and coccydynia are at least as likely as not (50/50 probability) caused by his osteoarthritis of lumbar spine with coccygeus-sacral muscle spasm" 4 C&P examiner's rationale for opinion "based upon the patients historical account of his military injury, he portrays a classic type mechanism of injury that would have "torqued" his pelvis and led to a sacroiliac dysfunction which would involve muscle tightness and spasm of the coccygeus-sacral area muscles; this process has nothing to do with osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine, and is a separate injury and/or condition; most likely this is the main generator of his pain, not the osteoarthritis of the spine which is an age appropriate... blah blah blah" Am I crazy or did the rater use the examiner's rationale, intended to clarify that this should be granted service-connection and rated as a separate injury, to say that the examiner's opinion was actuallly the opposite of what she stated it was? Pertinent facts and evidence: 1. service medical records from 1993 showing treatment for low back pain-- this is where the osteoarthritis began.... 2. service medical records from 1994 showing treatment for tailbone injury and diagnosis of "coccydynia" 3. radiology report on exit examination that showed possible fracture to my sacrum/coccyx, which indicated a bone scan that was never performed by the VA 4. current radiology report showing that my tailbone area was likely, indeed, fractured... leaving me without proper treatment from 1994 until 2010. 5. C&P examiner states condition was at least as likely as not caused by my service-connected disabilities 6. VA rater states that since the examiner stated that it is a completely separate injury from the osteoarthritis, it therefore cannot be service-connected NOW, FORGIVE THE CAPS PLEASE, BUT CAN ANYONE ELSE FEEL MY PAIN???????????? WHY ON EARTH WOULD SOMETHING LIKE THIS MAKE ANY VETERAN WANT TO GO POSTAL? GEE, I WONDER WHY VETERAN SUICIDE RATES ARE ON THE RISE????????? IS IT JUST ME, OR DOES A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF INCOMPETENCE SEEM TO PLAY INTO THE VA'S DECISION ON THIS????????????????????????? ADVICE OR SUGGESTIONS ANYONE?
  4. Joe Everyman

    Just Another Noob

    Thanks everyone... I do appreciate your words. I'm not sure where to begin with my situation in terms of posting specifics. As for the terminal part, I ruptured my pancreas in 2006 and almost died then. I have had repeated bouts of pancreatitis since then. The majority of individuals who get chronic pancreatitis do not live beyond seven years from the original diagnosis. When I think about taking the quick escape from pain, I sometimes stop taking my other medications. If I do that for three or four weeks, there is a good chance that my pancreas will finish the process it started. I have seen the results in my blood work from not taking my meds for two weeks and this last time it almost put me in the hospital. I made the mistake of telling the lady at the VA clinic that I sometimes think about stopping my meds and she put my name on some VA suicide watch list... said someone would call to check on me. That was four months ago and they still haven't called once (If I am rated service-connected for depression and take myself out this way, will my family get any benefits as a result of my death being due to service-connected illness? Wouldn't that be a laugh? I might end up doing my family a favor by going out with style, whereas if I keep fighting the VA and they turn me down and turn me down, I'm really just a burden to my wife and kids. Evil are the days which tell a man he is worth more to his family dead than alive.). Of course the pain involved with pancreatitis always pushes me back in the other direction. And, if I live long enough, I'll be a good candidate for pancreatic cancer. Either way, my path is the path of pain. I have familial hypertriglyceridemia, a condition which first manifested during service--though they deny that fact. The VA doctor at the clinic even said it was familial, but hey, why should the VA care what their own doctors say? I have the lab results from my service exit exam to prove it, but they say it was just some elevated results on bloodwork, and that hypertriglyceridmeia is just a fancy way of saying "excess triglycerides in the blood". My hospital records from the pancreatitis show "triglyceride induced pancreatitis". The diabetes is a result of the pancreatitis, but I cannot prove it. I will think about what all to post here for the other decisions. Thanks for the advice and info... I need to think about this some more before I do anything else. I'm not sure the best way to proceed on these claims. I think I need some insight and advice on how to respond. Please don't mind me. I'm so mad right now I could spit nails. I hate the fact that my family is going through hell while some jerk at the VA, who couldn't care less about the damage his or her flawed decision has done to us, goes on down the road to do it again to some other poor grunt. We really needed that money. Some day, somebody who doesn't have a family to think about or anything left to lose is going to send a message to the United States, its people and its government, that you cannot treat veterans this way any longer. Why can't somebody take steps to correct the problem now? Why do we always wait until we're in a crisis to respond? Julius Caesar came to power in part because he cared for his soldiers. He promised to look after the veteran--a thing which the quibbling petty senators found contemptable to do... America is on a course that will lead to great changes--either we can choose to make the right choices now or we can let the winds of change dictate our future. And history will repeat itself again.
  5. Joe Everyman

    Just Another Noob

    Berta, Thanks for all the meat to chew and the warm welcome. You know, they didn't even address the TDIU on the decision made in September 09. Any suggestions on that? And, yes, I'm going to file the paperwork. I was just so mad that I couldn't help telling them I knew I had them. It didn't make me feel much better though.
  6. Joe Everyman

    Just Another Noob

    Hey Bravo6--thank you for the welcome. I was 54th QM, 92-94, so you never know. It's good to see you here.
  7. Joe Everyman

    Just Another Noob

    Oh, and above all, don't be overweight. It doesn't matter that you were injured in the military while you were at your peak physical condition or that your injuries prevent you from exercising to any useful extent.... everyone will look at you as if your weight is the cause of your problems and/or pain... Even those who might otherwise be good intentioned will judge you for being overweight.
  8. Joe Everyman

    Just Another Noob

    Pete, when I got the explanation letter today, I called and told them to start a claim for me on TDIU while I work on showing them how they made a clear and unmistakable error on this rating decision. When I get done, they will pay me. I have the evidence in their own words. If anyone reads this actually cares for some advice--my best advice is this: when you deal with the VA don't let the guilt stop you from telling them the truth... don't hold back from telling them how it is on your WORST days... the strategy which has helped me most in navigating the BS at the VA is to think about playing cards--you have to know what to hold back and when... let them lead... give them a chance to show their hand... then use their own words against them in your appeal because 9 times out of 10 the jerk is going to deny your claim unless you have an obvious, visible disability or a very, very strong case... Do not give up... find your angle of attack and hit them and hit them and hit them.... use every appeal available... use logic.... do not believe everything they put in their response letter to you... keep everything they send you because if you have as much wrong with you as I do, you will eventually get some lazy shmuck who didn't do his homework, then you have them because they denied for "X" when you can show them that they already told you the opposite thing 10 years before... also, sometimes they are deliberately hiding valuable information that is kept with the actual rating decision in their files... if they say you have to show a, b, c, but you know that the VA guidelines actually state that you can skip b and c if you can show A and D instead, hit them hard with that.... in my appeal that won ultimately, I wrote that their response was irrelevant and showed them why... I didn't use an attorney, just their system against them. This is only what worked for me. You ultimately have to find what works for you. Even if this is not true, you must tell yourself that you are facing an enemy that wants you to quit, die, or kill yourself before winning. If you take that stance, maybe you will survive the BS long enough to get help like I did. Also, the more people who put their hands on the appeals, the more likely it is you will get to that one honest grape in the bunch... the one who won't sleep at night if they allow the VA to continue doing to you what it has been doing all along--or at least they might get you some vaseline to make it feel better.
  9. Joe Everyman

    Just Another Noob

    Thanks for the warm welcome folks... sorry about the pissing and moaning. I'll bite my tongue now, because nothing else I have to say right now will do anybody any good. Abe Lincoln is turning in his grave every time the VA opens its doors in the morning.
  10. I'm nothing and nobody special, but I'm here because I'm angry and have to speak up. This seems like a good place to say what needs to be said, and then maybe it will be easier for me to deal with life. About me: I joined the service during the first Gulf War, but spent my entire time in the continental U.S. I enlisted in Mortuary Affairs and worked on a rotation to the local county morgue as part of a joint training program between the army and local government. During my time at the morgue, I saw all manner of wonderful things, including the frozen screams which you may often find on the charred faces of little babies killed in a fire. I also saw fathers and mothers killed by criminals and little children beaten to death by those who should have protected them. I never served in war, but I never can forget their faces just the same. The army couldn't send everyone in my occupational group to the morgue all the time, so we were put to work in other useful ways, such as picking up cigarette butts and parading around to the satisfaction of touring generals. The other days? Inspection, equipment maintenance, reefer unit packing and unpacking 101, and, best of all, inventory--how many times do we have to count these body bags, sarge? Until I get tired, private. I joke, but this was life. Can't believe it? Oh, beautiful Fort Lee, how I've missed you. Only two hours from Washington, D.C. and no real peace time missions for my MOS. One day, they asked for volunteers and I, desiring a more meaningful service to our nation, stepped forward. That was my first mistake I guess. I was assigned to a battalion task force that would save Uncle Sam money by taking over the duties of a particular service mission that was previously contracted out to private industry. I possess an award certificate with my name on it proving that my efforts helped save our government $350,000. I did not serve in battle or take a bullet in the hip, but I was injured during the mission--doing my job and attempting to fulfill the honorable obligation of serving my country. I will not explain how I was injured, because it is a very personal matter. I will say that it was caused by another soldier through no mistake of my own manufacture. I was utterly blameless in the matter, and for my pains (pun intended) received an injury of a humiliating and intimate nature. I was no longer able to perform the functions of my MOS (heavy lifting a requirement) and remained unable to do anything, sleep on my back, or sit down for a period of about two months. Did the army send me home with a disability rating so that I could sponge off the government for the rest of my life? Did I meet sympathy or support as a result of my sacrifice? No, quite the opposite. I was put out of the army for failure to pass a physical fitness test and branded with "unsatisfactory performance" as the reason on my official paperwork. I did not know my rights or that I should have been examined medically to determine whether I was fit for service. I have lived for almost twenty years with the results of my decision to serve: constant pain and memories of mutilated babies. My VA disability rating upon exit from the service for my "service-connected" (non-combat related) injuries? 10%--that's right, I received about $90 a month and the humiliation of explaining to every potential employer why I was put out of the army for unsatisfactory performance. My problems and the $90 did not seem equitable, so I requested that the VA reconsider my rating 9 years ago. They rated me 30% at that time, which was still very poor compensation considering that I wasn't disabled enough to get social security, but was essentially prohibited from ever making a living wage. I have been unable to keep a job long term because of the limitations of my injuries, but I know that all of us veterans are just sponges soaking up tax monies so that others can work to support our lazy butts (SARCASM) and that VA workers really do care about us... (gag me, right). At that time, I also asked the VA to look at my depression symptoms, for which I was humiliated and called a liar by those wonderful VA representatives. One good and wise soul went so far as to claim that I was attempting to scam the government and should be ashamed of myself. I fought this battle for seven years, and won in the end. I also appealed the reason for my discharge (which has always been honorable) and was finally rewarded last year with a decision stating that I had not been treated fairly and the reason for discharge was changed to "physical standards". Basically, it means that the army was right to put me out of the service since I can't prove that I was unable to do my job when they made the initial decision, but they don't feel comfortable laying the blame entirely upon me. I am now receiving an 80% disability rating and cannot get a job. I cannot provide health insurance for my family. I do not get loads of wonderful benefits. I get $1800 a month and accusing looks whenever I attempt to get help for my pain. Even so, after almost twenty years on disability, the money I helped save the government in six months of my three years ($350,000) of active duty service is still much more than I have received (wonder how much interest they made on that money I saved them). I am currently dying of unrelated illnesses, so my family will be left with nothing shortly, as they get nothing unless I am rated at 100% disabled for at least ten years prior to death. So, it's a shame that I could not have died on the battlefield twenty years ago and saved American taxpayers all the money they've had to spend on me. Now, the punchline to this joke is that those unrelated illnesses are the result of a genetic condition that manifested during the service, but of course they denied my claim... immediately after I requested a congressional inquiry into why they were dragging their feet on the claim. Then they denied an increase in my service connected disabilities rating, and the reason? Well, if I'm reading the explaination letter they sent correctly, their reason is because the rating personnel misunderstood what the examiner put in her notes--which are quoted in the letter, and which the examiner explained to me during the C&P exam. Funny, huh? But the joke is one me, and all of you other vets who have been defecated upon by some drudge hack pissed about their boring government job and all those lying, complaining veterans like me (SARCASM AGAIN). Oh, yeah, while I'm at it... I had sleep apnea in the service but didn't know what the heck that even was... my bunk buddy complained about my snoring constantly, but no diagnosis until 5 years after service... I'm not even going to try to get that one service connected. But I'm a lazy sponging slug who is just trying to get over on the system, so don't mind me.
  11. When I click on link it says I don't have access that that part of board. I need help with my claim, but I cannot post. Can someone please help me? Thank you.
  12. Joe Everyman

    Problem

    I cannot view all forums while logged in. My Controls are inaccessible. I can't seem to do what I need to do to post a claim question. Could someone please offer advice? Thank you.
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