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    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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    • So, my lawyer sent an IME w/ IMO and filed a supplemental claim solely for IU on March 20.

      It was closed on March 25, and va.gov just states claim closed and nothing more.

      Hopefully, I get good news.
    • Thanks for the responses. I am filing a new claim but will continue pushing the NOD. My new question is it stated in law or statute that if during the claims process the VA finds conditions that could possibly rate service connection that was not originally filed for, the VA will “invite” the veteran to file the claim on the claims form. Reason I ask is that my private DBQs, NEXUS letter, and even the VA nurse examiner's DBQs lists bilateral upper radiculopathy as present. If it is written in statute or official guidance it might qualify as a CUE. Just looking at all angles. 
    • Everyone needs to read our stories so they can try to avoid these screws by the va...
      Thank you, everyone contributes, good or bad, all of our stories will help others, and yes, they have been stated by others for ages, over and over, but we just get depressed, and the time turns into years as they screw us..

      Welcome to the department of Veterans Affairs!  I can honestly say, "been there, done that".  

      Even after winning my tdiu in 2017, it was back to the drawing board as VA hornswaggeld my effective date.  (but of course).  

      I finally won my tdiu effective date in Feb. 2020, 18 years after I first applied!!!  

      Here is how they managed to drag mine out 18 years:

      1.  They never adjuticated my decison until 2009, where they called it "moot".  

      2.  I appealed, said it was not moot because it could result in an earlier effective date and SMC S under Bradley vs Peake.  The judge agreed with me, and ordered VARO consider me for extra schedular TDIU, under 4.16 b.  

      3.  The VARO piddles with  the remand for 3 years, and hoped I wouldnt notice.  I noticed and raised cane until they adjuticated it.  (denied of course).  

      4.  Finally, after the baord denied again, I hired a lawyer, in 2014, and appealed to CAVC.   

      5.  The lawyer won a remand, got an IMO and I won tdiu in 2017.  But at the wrong effective date, even after 15 years.  

      6.  I hired another lawyer, Chris Attig, and appealed the effective date, and he won a remand for effective date.  Trip 2 to CAVC.  

      7.  Mr. Attig won a remand, and advised me to get another IMO.  

      8.  The board awarded my earlier effective date in Feb. 2020.  

           So, I do have advice fighting VA for TDIU, they fought and fought and I hung in there and won it all.  

      ADVICE:  Dont count on VA, they could easily throw your fax in the trash.  Follow up!  
    • "Keep in mind that due to the nature of the digestive system, VA would most likely combined your conditions and pay you at the higher rate to avoid pyramiding".    That is one of my main gripes.  They are only listing the GERD with hiatal hernia and ignoring the rest of my gastric issues such as the gastritis which I also had in service.  I included it in my 2007 request for increase and again in 2019.  The info from the civilian dr that stated I had the gastritis with H pylori was not even provided to the examiner in 2007, nor did he have my VA health records. The 2019 request was based on an EGD I had AT THE VA in Jan 2019.   I filed for an increase 6 Mar and they did an ACE on 27 Mar and downgraded to noncompensable on that date.  The only reason I was thinking CUE:  38 CFR § 3.326 - Under Examinations  it states (c) Provided that it is otherwise adequate for rating purposes, a statement from a private physician may be accepted for rating a claim without further examination".  
    • Enough has been said on this topic. This forum is not the proper forum for an attorney and former client to hash out their problems. Please take this offline
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Vync

Positive For Hepatitis C Antibodies; From Air Injectors?

Question

Hello everyone,

I just got a letter in the mail and don't quite know what to make of it. Hopefully you guys can help.

For the first time in my life I gave blood. I was always denied because I lived in Europe during the early 1990's, during the BSE/Mad Cow Disease time period. They recently relaxed that restriction to people living there for four or more years during a certain time period, but I lived there only 3.5 years during that time. The first time I gave blood was about three months ago and then again a couple of weeks ago. Today, I get a letter in the mail from the organization where I gave blood. This is what it says:

Test Results

Your blood tested repeatedly reactive using the ABBOTT PRISM HCV assay, a chemiluminescent immunoassay (ChLIA) for the qualitative detection of antibodies to the hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV). However, a second similar test, the Ortho HCV 3.0 EIA, an Enzyme Immuno Assay (EIA) and the detect virus detection method (nucleic amplification test - NAT) were both negative.

The test for which you had a positive result is not used to diagnose any infections. It can be positive for many reasons unrelated to your health. Diagnostic testing at a doctor's office would in most likelihood show that you have no infection. Unless you have specific risk factors, we do not recommend that you obtain additional testing from a doctor's office.

Then they go on to say that I cannot donate any more blood for at least six months, and then I would have to also have to test negative to ChLIA too.

I thought to myself about risk factors:

- Never used drugs

- No tattoos

- No piercings

- Mother and father are both negative to HCV

- Married more than once

- No STD history

- Had several surgical procedures (one in the military), but never administered any blood

- Was given only the first of three Hepatitis C vaccine shots. Did not need the other two because I was transferred and never deployed to combat

- When taking cholesterol-reducing statins, like Lipitor, it jacked up my liver and I had to stop taking them

- Never previously tested positive for HCV, but don't think I was ever tested for HCV antibodies

Then I thought back to something I read on here a while back. What about the immunization auto-injectors when I joined the military? In 1990, I was processed in at the MEPS center at Maxwell AFB, AL, and went to Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, SC. I would have to dig through my records to be sure where, but I remember us walking down the assembly line and getting immunization after immunization with those air injector guns and having blood drooling down my arm just like everyone else ahead and behind me.

Should I go to the doctor and get further testing?

I'm already 100% P&T. If I do end up being confirmed positive, would there be any benefits of filing a claim for it?

Thanks

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Yes follow up. For the best Advice I can give you is to talk to Asknod. This man is the guru on this issue.

Shoot him a PM.

Hang in there.

John

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Thanks JB, I am taking the letter to the doc first thing in the morning.

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Absolutely....ASKNOD is the Hep C expert here.....

The very first Air gun Hep C win was years ago.....not many since.

When I got email from another advocate on it, I called Monte Wilson ,Vietnam Veterans of America, the veteran's POA.

Monte told me their sole piece of evidence was a study done in England that associated Hep C with military air guns. I found the study they used but that was on probably four PCs ago.....

There could be an association between your Hep C results and those statin meds:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000226.htm

If a SC medication causes an additional ratable disability, the disability can be SCed as secondary.

This is a large pdf run down of the test that resulted in positive:

http://www.ilexmedical.com/files/PDF/HCV_Prism.pdf

But I think you will feel better about all this after seeing your doc.......

And I THANK YOU for donating blood.

I regret I missed the last 2 blood drives here in the boonies. Giving blood is such a positive way to help others. And COMMENDABLE!!!!!

And Vync, you did a great job, comparable to the best job any VSO would do, to go over those risk factors.

BTW,the vet who did win the first Hep C air gun claim had tattoos.

I think the Vietnamese barber in Danang circa 1964 on, might well have contaminated vets with Hep C with his razor.

The scuttlebutt from some Marines stationed at Danang who I know, was that he was a double agent.

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Hi Berta,

I really appreciate the feedback.

I checked the links you provided and the statins I took were a few years ago. I do have some of the common symptoms, but they could overlap with my SC conditions.

I went to the doctor this morning, explained the situation, provided a copy of the letter, and got a few of my questions answered. I explained about the air gun vaccinations and her eyebrows raised. She said that a lot of soldiers have no idea what they are being injected with. She explained having antibodies means I was exposed to the virus. It is possible that my body fought it off, but she had a lot of blood drawn to do more advanced testing and find out were I stand. I expect the results back sometime next week.

I also got to thinking of another potential risk factor. A while back I was using the VAMC toilet and it suddenly 'blasted' me underneath. Yuck. Yeah, last thing anyone would want to happen. I reported it to the closest VAMC nurse and they didn't do anything except tell me where paper towels were located. I went to the same doc I visited today and she did blood work and put me on preventative antibiotice. I am not sure if someone can catch Hep C from sewage.

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Vync--

Here's the history on Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) where your individual risks are concerned. Doctors and scientists knew about HCV as early as about 1984. The only test then was the Australian Antigens test (AAT). It was like a pregnancy test -yes or no. If it was positive you had Hepatitis B virus (HBV). This is bloodborne, like HCV. A negative result was indicative of Hepatitis A (HAV) which is always transmitted via the oral/fecal route. You get it on your hands and then touch your mouth or its in/on the food you consume (or the one handling it who goes to the bathroom and doesn't wash the hands). Nevertheless, there were increasing numbers of service members and Vets coming down with all the hallmarks of hepatitis-the yellow eyes and skin (jaundice), light clay-colored stools, very dark urine and high blood lab tests on a liver panel. (SGOT and SGPT aka AST/ALT). The ATT said nothing. No hepatitis at all. It was obvious these guys had something. People with HAV get better. Fast. These Vets continued to have high AST and ALT numbers like I did long after service. I tested positive for B on the first ATT in November 1992. My AST/ALT were 138/200 which is off the map. Normal is 10-30 on both. 40 if you drank a lot.

In 1989, Dr. Edwin Southern discovered the single strand RNA of HCV. He'd already developed the Western Blot test addition to the ELISA test to discover HIV. He created the Northern Blot to discern HCV. Fast forward to 1992 when it still wasn't widely known in medical circles. The blood banks were the first to begin testing in early 1992 and the supply was declared safe by December. From then on, anyone who claims they got it from a transfusion had to prove it happened before 1992. Actual commercial testing for this was a crapshoot. They'd give you the Northern Blot test about five times. If you came up 3/5, you had it. By the late 90s they were developing the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test which was very reliable and also much faster.

Now, there are a magic number of you out there who were exposed to it and it probably happened if you were in the military before 1998. Oddly, that's when the DoD suddenly decided that the jetguns were "unable to be proven to be sanitary one hundred percent of the time". After 1998 the incidence of HCV in the military plummeted but according to the VA, that had absolutely nothing to do with the discontinuance of jetgun usage. I believe the disease got into the military during the Vietnam War for several reasons. Many were drafted who had a history of drug abuse but were accepted anyway if they were currently in remission (clean). Going down a shot line is a bloody gauntlet as most know. If a guy flinches, it slices like a knife. Everyone after that got bloody. Sanitary precautions could never put that Pandora back in the box. I believe that in the first Gulf War, another large number enlisted and a few of the more marginal were accepted. True, also, was the large number of Weekend Warriors who served. They got hosed along with everyone else. Again, HCV is a versatile little bug. It can live at room temperature (60s) for three months- even on a dry surface. A jet gun was the Devil's playground for this disease in this environment.

By 1995, scientists were dragging Interferon back off the shelf, which hadn't worked for Cancer or HIV, and trying it out on- who else- Vets (around 1996 in LA). VA started testing Vets without their permission to see what the prevalence of this was nationwide. This began in the mid-90s. When it was obvious the rate was about 10% and as high as 60% of Vietnam Vets, they quit testing. They began again in the 2004s- again- without telling Vets. We've had quite a number who find it in their VHA VISTA electronic records at the VAMC or CBOC Release of Information Office (ROI). They are dumbfounded that VA would not inform them of it. We at asknod.org don't find it strange at all. VA has a storied history of "failing to notice the Vet was at all ill".

​Now, a small minority of you lucky rascals, about 28-32%, actually caught this critter and somehow, by superior breeding in your families, developed an immunity to it. You are a carrier but cannot ever come down with it yourself. You can transmit it to others via a blood transfusion (rare) so the blood banks are rather skittish about taking any chances. You're on the "B" list until there's a national emergency. You've stated all the usual risks, Vync, but there are a few others. Acupuncture, an EMG test with unsterilized needles or any procedure like tattooing where needles penetrate the skin-even cutaneously. Think piercings. Sex has been proven to be a much larger risk than VA would like to admit. If they could make STDs willful misconduct, they'd be happy clams. Look for that some time in the 2020s.

HCV is very linear unless you drank a lot. If so, it occurs faster. There are 4 stages using the widely accepted Metavir scale (0-4). There are 4 grades of speed of progression of the disease. I'm Stage 4, grade 3. Each stage is generally 10 years give or take 2-3. It is determined by a liver biopsy. I got mine from a transfusion Sept. 16ish, 1970. I came down with what appeared to be Hepatitis A 89 days later. Six weeks in the hospital and six weeks of light duty. Hepatitis A, however, generally lasts for about 7-11 days. They didn't have the ATT test at the civilian hospital I was at in 1971. Shoot, they probably only had it in fancy New York hospitals. If I got it (the ATT test) in Seattle in late 1992 from a civilian doctor, the HCV test obviously wasn't out there yet. VA didn't get it until about the mid to late 90s and then quit testing for it as I mentioned earlier.

The best news for last. Gilead Science, Bristol Myers and a hoard of European medicine makers are all on the cusp of an oral dosage that doesn't make you sick, go blind, get DM2 or thyroid cancer. It takes twelve to sixteen weeks and is 95% effective against the most stubborn varieties- Genotypes 1A and 1B. It is still 65 % effective on my type (3A) so that's what I'm striving to stay alive long enough for. The release date is rumored for January 2014. My autoimmune AO diseases make me ineligible for a liver transplant so its Win or Die.

HCV is extremely difficult to eradicate because it's a shape shifter. Just as your body develops a perfect white blood cell to do battle with it, it metamorphoses ever so slightly and the body's defenses can't "see" it to attack it and are forced to begin the attack anew. The new drugs arrest the incubation cycle rather than try to fry the body with Interferon like a napalm strike for a year.

Precautions for you? Don't share your toothbrush or razors with anyone. If you cut yourself, clean up spilled blood with a ton of undiluted bleach. It can only be transmitted via blood to blood such as a person with an open cut themselves gets your blood into their wound so the chances of transmission are almost nil if you observe normal hygiene. And, of course, thank you Vync for your unselfish contribution to America's continued freedom. Many hear the call. Few sign on the line. Fewer return.

Clear Prop

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    • By asknod
      If any of you need definitive evidence for VA claims concerning Hepatitis C and the possibility of infection via a jetgun, I received rather damning evidence useful to your claim submission. 
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      3.  The VARO piddles with  the remand for 3 years, and hoped I wouldnt notice.  I noticed and raised cane until they adjuticated it.  (denied of course).  

      4.  Finally, after the baord denied again, I hired a lawyer, in 2014, and appealed to CAVC.   

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