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About socomsam

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  • Service Connected Disability

socomsam's Achievements

  1. I've been enrolled in Voc Rehab for almost a year with very little progress. I recently expressed interest to my counselor about becoming a voc rehab counselor as I would like to serve my fellow disabled vets. My original goal was to go to luthier school to learn how to repair and set-up guitars as I do it as a hobby, but my counselor doesn't think it is a viable career. To become a voc rehab counselor, I need a Masters in Psychology. Long road for sure and I am not guaranteed a job with the VA, so I could face unemployment so I am having doubts. I was a video production specialist in the Army and did it as a profession for over 20 years since separating from the Army, but haven't been in the industry in several years. So..this leads to my question.. I can easily get back into the industry if I had some equipment (camera and editing gear). Will the VA pay for equipment without me going to school?
  2. I was just awarded 30% PTSD (took them only one month from my evaluation on April 4, 2011) plus they raised my percentage for my degenerative disc disease from 10 to 20% to a combined rating of 40%. I am relieved since I've been out of the service for 23 years. I am enrolled in the voc rehab program, but that has been a long slow road. I was a combat videographer in the Army (SOCOM) and have been in that profession since separating from the Army in 1988 but I cannot do the work anymore. It's too much for my back. I can no longer hold a camera for any length of time. I've unknowingly been dealing with PTSD for 23 since separating from the service and it has caused a lot of employment problems since. I just didn't know what was wrong. I've never held a job longer than a couple of years before something happens and I am fired or demoted. My latest job taken to make sure my family and I didn't end up on the streets is working in a factory, 12 hour shift, lifting heavy boxes and pallets. Aside from the physical strain on my back, the mental strain is causing far worse problem. My stress levels are through the roof and I have numerous panic attacks at work and constant heart palpitations, which causes me to panic, thinking I am going to have a heart attack or stroke. I want to quit so bad, but my monthly compensation is not enough to pay the bills. Does anyone know if you can get unemployment if you quit due to a disability? It seems they want you to be fired first, but my drive to not put my family on the streets keeps me going, even though I am running out of steam. Also, can someone point me in the direction of a successful Notice of Disagreement? Thanks
  3. In 2009, I was finally awarded 10% disability for a 1985 back injury while active duty with the US Army. After the injury, I received several months of physical therapy, so I was pretty surprised and dismayed at the low rating, but after 24 years but I was thankful I was even acknowledged by the VA. Also during my time on active duty, I was witness to some pretty horrible things in Central America, plus I was very close to impact of a C130 crash at Ft. Bragg in 1987. I filed a claim in 2010 and was awarded 30% for PTSD in May. I am pretty disappointed in the initial rating for both my back and my PTSD and would like to file an appeal because since I got out of the Army in 1989, I have not been able to hold a job for more than a year, I have panic attacks, I cannot fly and I am forced into entry level jobs that usually require extensive manual labor that makes the pain in my back unbearable. I currently work in a factory moving and lifting 40lb boxes and 70lb pallets for 12 hours. I just can't take it anymore and I am pointed out on attendance. One more call off and I am fired. Because of my PTSD, I have memory problems and find it hard to pay attention for more than a couple of minutes, so some of the managerial positions I've had resulted in termination or demotions. At 47 years old, there really isn't any options left for me. Last September I was enrolled in the VocRehab program, but after nearly a year, I am still in limbo and my counselor just sent me a letter stating she is pulling me out of the program for lack of progress (I've been waiting on her and have emails to prove it). What is the process to getting an appeal approved? I would love to keep working to some capacity, but because I have no college, I am always forced into entry level positions that wreck havoc on my back, which leads to extreme anxiety. I am really at the end of my rope with the pain and the depression and the sense of hopelessness is just overwhelming. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
  4. Wow..I wish I had good news. Went to my initial appointment in September. It's now mid April and I am still in limbo, even with repeated emails to my counselor. She is basically USELESS. I am so disgusted right now. Disgusted with these civilians getting paid a lot of money TO DO NOTHING. To string us along, hoping we'll just give up and go away. Going to write my Senator. This is ridiculous and an embarrassment to the government and the VA.
  5. I finally heard back from my counselor. I mentioned wanting to go to Luthier school (guitar building/repair) as I do it in my spare time, thoroughly enjoy it and it's easy on my disability. The only thing stopping me from gaining employment, or doing it as a business is getting certification from a reputable/accredited school. She told me "only if the skill is marketable skill in our area". So, is this the heart of the program, only allowing you to do something if it's marketable? Is the alternative the VA telling you what you are going to pursue because it's needed in your area? I know the goal is to become employed, or to find employment that is compatible with your disability, but I'll be damned if I am going to be a janitor somewhere because it needed in my area.
  6. I am still waiting to hear back from my counselor to see what track I am going to take in the program. I want to go to a guitar repair tech school as I do it on the side and I know I can make a living doing it if I had certified credentials. I was awarded disability just over a year ago after 22 years of being out of the Army. They only rated me 10% (I was probably at least 70% when I was originally injured back in 1985 since I did six months of physical therapy and I've been in pain ever since). As I stated in a previous post, I work in a factory and can no longer do my job and would quit tomorrow, but I need the income. Since I am hoping to go to a six month tech school full time out of town, how will I earn a living while at school? Do they pay a living expense?
  7. Thanks for the reply Pete. How long did the process take (from submitting your school information to your counselor to attending the first day)?
  8. As I said in my other post, I went to my VocRehab meeting on Sept 28th. I did qualify, took the test and that was the last I heard from them, even with repeated emails. My counselor just refuses to answer me. All I have asked her is for an idea of how long the process takes and what are my options regarding work (my job, which is a factory job, is way past unbearable because of my disability). That's it. I don't expect things to happen overnight, but to have some idea of the process would be helpful in planning for certain things. I even contacted my State's Department of Veterans Affairs to see what I could do in the mean time and they never responded. I am 46 years old and I come from the generation that only knows the VA to be inefficient, unresponsive and uncaring and it seems like it really hasn't changed.
  9. I was awarded my disability just over a year ago after 22 years. My counselor asked me the same thing and I honestly didn't think I was able to go to the VA, plus I've been afraid of my employers finding out I have a back problem. It's hard enough to get a job at 46 years old with no college education and having this sort of problem only makes my chances worse. If the factory I work at finds out I have a back problem, they'll let me go for sure and $123.00 a month will not pay the bills. I've been going it alone for a long time out of fear.
  10. How long does it usually take for things to start moving? I went in for my meeting Sept 28th and took the test. Few months? Several Months? I haven't heard one thing from my counselor since my meeting. I really am having a hard time at my job because of my disability. I missed last night and tonight because of pain. We are on an 8 point attendance system and I have racked up 4 points since April (my start date). I am extremely stressed out and losing hope in everything.
  11. Just got home. It was a great experience. I have an awesome counselor. Two and half hours in and out. My counselor let me take the test home because of my back and sitting that long. I guess it's not our grandfathers VA anymore. Thanks for everyone who offered help and advice. It's a blessing to be part of the veteran brother and sisterhood.
  12. I served with SOCOM from 1984 to 1988. After 21 years of red tape, I was just awarded 10% disability for a back injury while active duty. While active duty with SOCOM, I experienced a couple of situations that have bothered me since. First was cleaning up the wreckage (including charred bodies) of a Blackhawk Helicopter crash at Fort Bragg. I was initially told to take video of the crash (I was a 84F combat videographer), but after arriving, I was told to help in recovery. I remember seeing one charred body, but the eyes were not burnt and they were looking at me from the wreckage. I thought the guy might be alive, but when I went to see, he was obviously dead. When I went to pull his body from the wreckage, his head came off. I remember the smell was so bad, I threw up and had to burn my BDU's and boots. My second incident happened while deployed with 7th SPG in Central America in 1986. I was attached as a camera man and we came into a village in the Honduras/Nicaraguan border that had been visited earlier by Sandinistas. There were several bodies that had been skinned alive, and one guy had his face peeled off and he was still alive. One of our team had to end his life. I still remember him laying on the street, gasping for air. We also came under fire doing a beach assault. All of the video I took of these incidents was confiscated by men in civilan clothes and we were debriefed on not to speak a word of it. I am tired of keeping it a secret. I was threatened with an article 15 when I returned to Bragg for "losing the footage". The third incident happened while I was videotaping the annual 82nd Airborne Capex at Fort Bragg July 1987. While waiting to interview Socom Cm. Gen. James Lindsey, I began taping a LAPES. I was standing behind the bleachers when the C130 took a dive into the ground about 75 yards in front of me and a grandstand of spectators and skidded down the runway at Sicily drop zone and exploded in a mushroom cloud. The ground shook so hard and hot oil rained down on everyone. I stayed the entire day documenting what happened on videotape (I still have my copy of the crash and footage). It wasn't until a month later that I went home on leave and on my way back on the plane, I had a panic attack and was convinced the plane was going to crash. I was airborne and on my next jump, I had another panic attack and the jump master moved me to the front of the stick and let me exit the plane first. I was also convinced the C130 was going to crash. I also have nightmares of being in Honduras and hearing that man breathing and also of a toddler in the jungle and I hear it crying and falling, but I am not allowed to do anything. Then it sounds like it falls into water and I hear the child gurgling, but I still am not allowed to save it. I had planned on making the Army a career, but I ended refusing to jump or fly in any capacity, and because of my back injury, I ETS's (1988). Since then I've had nothing but odd jobs and I still will not fly. It's cost me jobs. I am always worried and depressed. When I hear a plane go overhead, I have to go outside to make sure it won't crash into our house. My wife says I too fearful of everything. For over 20 years I've been dealing with this and I am all used up. I can't see myself living to be an old man. I fear that I am going to have a stroke or heart attack at any second and die (I would actually welcome it). A friend who is a disabled Vietnam vet told me to file a claim for PTSD, but I am afraid too but can no longer go on this way.
  13. Going to my appointment on Tuesday. Any last words of advice? Anything to prepare myself? Anything I should demand? Thanks again everyone.
  14. I'm only 46 and I cannot see myself being a janitor for the rest of my life. That only adds to my depression. I already feel like I have no future.
  15. I check USAJobs daily, and have been for several years. Everything seems to require a bachelors degree. I also filed a claim for PTSD. They seem to be taking me seriously, which is a relief. Don't know if I have it, but I am certain I do. Panic attacks, severe anxiety, heart palpitations, insomnia and nightmares when I do sleep. Hard to concentrate, which has made it hard to hold a job over the last 20 years since ETSing. Just tired and exhausted dealing with it.
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