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Home From Iraq, Cant Work.


martin

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Hello everyone, my name is martin spears, a returning Iraqi war veteran. i have been in the military (active and reserve) for 22 years. i missed the 1st gulf war, i stayed at camp pemdleton on ACB. this deployment was my real first combat experience. i was an embedded advisor to the Iraqi 3rd Infantry Div. our living condition were deplorable compared to our active duty conterparts. we lived with,trained, and fed the Iraqi's and took them out on combat missions.(i have 65 that i took my guts out on) we were known as 'dances with wolves' as we went native with these people. when i came home for the last time, i was on the Syrian border, firing my weapon on july 23rd, i was home drinking a beer at home on july 28th. i was discharged the following week. i8 returned back to my civilian job. (i am a police officer) i wasnt permitted to take any vacation time i had on the books to decompress.i was told that someone had been baby sitting my slot, and i could take off later. so,i came back 6 weeks after firing my last shot. i was O.K. until Nov 20th. i was having such weird physical symptoms, i thought i was going to drop dead at any moment, not to mention sleeping all the time. well, things got worse. my wife forced me to go to the local V.A. here in Houston. i was going over the deep end fast, and had thoughts of something I HAD NEVER thought of..suicide. i was diagnosed with PTSD, and given medication. its been an up hill battle. august 17th i was called in to the captains office who said i didnt write any tickets last month. my reply to that was, i had a large amount of call, and reports, and i didnt feel motivated to go sek extra activity, i am tired physically, and feel like i have the flu half of the time. i then said i was diagnosed with PTSD and am on medication. they freaked out, sent me home from work,and said dont come back until you get a release from your doctor. well, my doctor isnt releasing me. he feels i cant handle the stress of being a policeman anymore. i think my job set me up for failure. now i was 2 years short of a full county pension, now i have to settle for a medical which isnt anything to brag about. whenever i go and check in at the office periodically, the big wigs come out of their offices and start giving me the old grip and grin, really sucking up. i think their afraid i'm going to sue the dept. i filed a claim through the V.A. last i was told my GAF was 45 last month. i have a wife a 4 kids that depend on me.i am down to 2 weeks of sick time on the books, and i dont know if my retirement will even be approved.i have proof of stressors, i was awarded the usual awards like a CIB,purple heart,bronze star, and the usual campaign stuff. everywhere i turn i run into a brick wall, all because i told my job i was being treated for PTSD. well, thats it. i joined this forum, because we all have something in common, were vets, and were getting screwed one way or the other. what ya think, any input would be appreciated. i dont know what i'm asking for actually...just feedback.

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Martin, check into the family and medical leave act. Also check into wether or not the County has a Long term disability policy. Get the paperwork and have your doctor fill it out. File a claim with the VA. The VA is going to take some time to kick around the claim so you need to be prepared. ALso file for SSD benefits. That may take another extended time period. I am going to advise you to go ahead and get a disability attorney. This attorney can cut through the red tape with the county and the SSA.

Good luck. I hope it all works out quickly for you.

Another thing to consider is to go to the VA personnel department and check into the VA police officer positions. The Work is not as stressful as a Road Policemen. Just walking and checking the parking garages. Besides, The pay aint too bad either. You can look them up at www.usajobs.com type in Houston for the search area.

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Martin,

Please file a claim (form 21-526) for VA disability compensation ASAP, for your self and your family.

It seems like (from your post) you have never filed a claim with VA so this would be your first. It will be very important (down the road) that you list every possible disability you may have from your active duty on this first - and original claim.

Also, it is important that you file the claim within one year of discharge.

These are areas you might want to study quite a bit.

Good luck,

carlie

http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-.../38cfrv1_02.tpl

http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/M21_1MR.html

Edited by carlie (see edit history)
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Welcome Martin,

Do you have a copy of your SMR's (service medical records) yet? You can get any of your buddy to write statements for you to help with your claim. After you file the claim, since your stressor is combat related, the VA will send you the stressor letter be specific and tell it all...I've heard that they want the very gory details that may be very difficult for you...I use a micro cassett recorder and just turn it on, and start remembering and talk until I want to stop, then you can have it transcribed onto paper on the VA form to submitt. Make a few copies of course before sneding it all to the VA. If your just starting out a accordian style folder to put all of your copies sent to the VA, or hand deliver them and get the date time stamp on the copy for your file, then you will have a neat VA folder where you can easyly find all of your VA papers, etc.

Just a suggestion to make it easier dealing with the VA.

I'm sure that the "top dogs" at the police dept where you work. are being real nice to you now!!! They don't want a law suit for the dept., county, and each individual involved in not letting you have the needed down time for debriefing/counseling prior to returning to work like you requested.

What do you think about counseling for you and your wife/kids to help to get through this? It will help you all understand better what is happening. I just mention this because I have been married three times, and didn't have anyone suggest it to me back when I first had symptoms.

Hang in there with the VA and SSD claims they take time, and I used a lawer on the third time I was turned down for SSD and he got it for me...well worth the money!!!

Use the CFR and M2-1 and any other rules and regs that the VA has in your favor while writing up your initial claim.

Several people suggest using a VSO when filing the initial claim, and then making sure that you are pro-active in the claim..who else has as much to loose or gain than you!?

Your going to get through this brother,

hang in there and remember that your not alone in having PTSD.

Semper FI!

BoonDoc

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Martin

It sounds like a playback of what many Vietnam vets went through except there was not concept of PTSD. I would file the claim right away for PTSD and you can flesh it out later with the stressor letter and the reat. You want to do as Carlie said and file for every single disability or medical condition you have during the first year after discharge. The feeling tired could be some disease or something we don't even know about yet, but may discover in the future like Agent Orange illnesses.

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thanks to everyone for the replies. i will take everyone advice to the heart. thanks to the vietnam vets and before, that did their duty, and never got their proper recogniton. I recognize you folks. when i first went into the military, they were my mentors, and taught me well on how to stay alive in combat. thanks for your service to our country. we are all brothers. we all know what it means to be a veteran. people who never served, and never put themselves in harm way, will never understand. "you just have to be there".does that make sense? i know it does, because we can relate to each other..god bless, god bless america.

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You got great advice here Martin. Thank you for serving us! and Welcome Home-

I bet 'home' is not at all like you thought it would be.

Sounds like what these Nam vets went through all over again-

I suggest one more thing-I will attach the TDIU form. If your doctor is willing to write a statement as to how your PTSD has rendered you unemployable, this would be great to attach to the TDIU form. Also under the Remarks question you can refer them to a separate page and tell them a little about your experiences in Iraq and how your medication renders you unable to work.

The side affects of all meds can be found on any good medical site on the web for drug info.

You have the combat awards and the PTSD diagnosis and VA should definitely concede that you were exposed to stressful events.They will want to know what some of them were but I see no problem in getting a PTSD rating. The PH alone is proof of a major stressor and they usually award 30-50% for award of the PH with PTSD diagnosis.As others said, be sure to tell them of any other medical conditions you have too.

As a military retiree -I imagine that you get Mil retirement pay?

A service connected combat veteran does not get an offset to their retirement once the VA determines they have combat related disabilities.

This link shows what I mean:

http://www.military.com/benefits/military-...al-compensation

In essense the amount there for 100% VA SC rating (2,393 per month for single veteran) becomes CRSC -

and is not offset to your retirement.

This has to be applied for too.

Your doctor is right and even though this can be a stunning fact, that one can no longer work due to service, there are many other ways a veteran can fulfill a productive life. Many here are 100% service disabled and they willingly help other vets to get their proper compensation. Your doctor is correct. The stress of the occupation you had would only add to the stress you have from Iraq.

"i was awarded the usual awards like a CIB,purple heart,bronze star, and the usual campaign stuff."

They aren't usual Martin-they describe great courage in the face of the enemy and also support an inservice injury.

Make sure the Gun Shot wound is listed as a disability on your claim.If there is major scarring and/or the scar is painful tell them that too.

I imagine this is difficult for your family. There is a wealth of information on the net as to PTSD and also there might even be a spousal PTSD support group around or something at a vet center that the family could participate in.

They could even come aboard here and talk to us about PTSD.

Many civilians think PTSD is a brand for someone who is 'mental'. They don't have a clue what it really is.

Employers and even family members and friends can add to a veteran's stress when they are unable or unwilling to realise what PTSD really is.

If you put any ordinary person into a superextraordinary situation like war-

they are altered and cannot -and should not-be expected to be the same again.

I sure appreciate what you said about Vietnam vets and you are so right.When I became a VA volunteer in the 1980s and worked at a Vet center -my life as a civilian was altered too-forever-by Vietnam veterans.

I saw first hand how employers and friends and family members resented the fact that their veteran was different.My own husband -who I met at the vet center-was forbidden to bring up Vietnam at family gatherings.When he was diagnosed with PTSD in 1983, that diagnosis meant to his family- that he was just plain nuts. I feel sorry for them.They could have learned so much from him. I sure did.

I have met hundreds of PTSD veterans and not one of them was nuts at all.

Are you near a vet center or are you still in touch with your unit from Iraq?

We here understand what you are going through and you are in great company.

Decompression-the mil is supposed to be helping with that-but I bet there are many men and women who dont know they even have PTSD at discharge so what would the mil decompress?

They are leaving too much up to newly returning veterans to do this themselves.

I am glad you came aboard here. You are not alone and we will help you.

TDIU_form.pdf

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Martin,

First of all, Welcome Home! I know it may not feel that way right now but at least you've found a community that appreciates your service. I'm sort of in the same boat with you right now, except that my 'work' is actually going to school; I should've graduated in the Spring of '04, but with the PTSD, it's been an uphill struggle.

I would recommend that you look into the Soldier's and Sailor's Relief Act, it may have something to do with the amount of leave time you should've gotten when you returned. (Yes you should've received ample amount of time to decompress, without penalty.) It also says a lot about promotions you may have been entitled to while on active duty.

A lot of people here will tell you that you should be award a certain percent compensation with your GAF of 45, I'm not saying they're wrong, but I wouldn't expect them (VA) to give you the highest amount on your first decision. (Although I sincerely hope they do) Be prepared for a lot of paper work and file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with anything they give you.

My first GAF score was 41 and my first decision was for SC PTSD at 30%! I filed NOD and got 50%, and I'm appealing that decision too!

Best of luck, our thoughts are with you and your family,

Gerald

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Thanks Devil dog (OORAAH!),pete,john,BoonDoc,timetowinarace,carlie,ans stacy, for all the nice replies. i'll take everyones advice,some of which i have already done. i never thought about an attorney for disability. i filed a claim for ptsd and hearing loss. ( our HUMMER got hit with an 82mm IED,in Tal'Affar,iraq, night mission we were sitting on top of it and didnt know it, until we took off,hadji remote detonated the round.it exploded about 15 meters to our left rear, and i was the .50 gunner who got hit,and cant hear very well now from it. we got out of the kill box,licked our wounds, and went on about the mission ) i had a hearing test done at the V.A. and confirmed severe hearing loss. i was diagnosed by 4 different psychiatrists who said the same thing,and confirmed my ptsd. what sent me down hill on ptsd (i think) was when two of my team members were killed south of Rabiah on august 5th,2005. i came home 6 weeks earlier than my scheduled unit rotation, because while at a combat outpost,( probably the same thing as a firebase for the vietnam vets)i was recovering from another bout of heat exhaustion, just came off of a mission, fired my last rounds, it was 130 degrees. i was given a red cross message saying my wifes mother had been killed in a fatality car accident.i didnt come home to the best of conditions,just glad to be alive. i was trying to deal with my wifes loss, 2 weeks later i learned two guys in my team were KIA. i guess i feel guilty as i wasnt there to say goodbye, and didnt have closure. after all, you break bread with these guys at chow time.i didnt have time to decompress and get this stuff off my chest,as i was concerned about my wife and kids. i put my stuff on the back burner,thinking i would be o.k. i learned one thing..i'm only human, and i'm vulnerable like everyone else is. i really started to get depressed,and here i am.i gave the V.A. my DD-214, my orders for my CIB, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, after action reports, mission backbriefs, etc. i also gave them the medical records from when i was finally treated for shrapnel the following morning from when we got hit.i hope i covered all my bases. Thanks carlie for the vote of confidence on your reply,and everyone too.i do stand corrected on my choice of words "the usual awards", i think what i meant to convey was that i didnt do anything anyone else wouldnt have done...everyone have a good one...martin spears

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Marty, please, let me know if you rec'd the e-mail about USERRA. I rec'd what looked like a come-back but there was no adnl verbiage. If you did no, please, e-mail me direct at ole_navy_goat@yahoo.com or my work e-mail thomas.mccann@state.tn.us . I typically do employment outreach services in TN but have gotten involved in assisting locally with claims. The folks that are giving you advice have typically been through what you're faced with and know the ropes. Anything you need in regards to fighting the VA, make sure you continue to consult the board of elders.

Also, anyone that would like a resource listing to use or pass on to their acquaintances just shoot me an e-mail to the work e-mail. It contains job hunting, military, disability and educational assistance sites. Granted a couple of entries are Tenn. specific but could easily be modified for use in your area.

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Marty, please, let me know if you rec'd the e-mail about USERRA. I rec'd what looked like a come-back but there was no adnl verbiage. If you did no, please, e-mail me direct at ole_navy_goat@yahoo.com or my work e-mail thomas.mccann@state.tn.us . I typically do employment outreach services in TN but have gotten involved in assisting locally with claims. The folks that are giving you advice have typically been through what you're faced with and know the ropes. Anything you need in regards to fighting the VA, make sure you continue to consult the board of elders.

Also, anyone that would like a resource listing to use or pass on to their acquaintances just shoot me an e-mail to the work e-mail. It contains job hunting, military, disability and educational assistance sites. Granted a couple of entries are Tenn. specific but could easily be modified for use in your area.

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thanks olenavygoat. i have wriiten down the information, and will check the web site in the morning. i did try to send a reply to you, but i'm still trying to get a hang of maneuvering through the web site. i guess my first attempt was a no go.i appreciate the input. i'll let ya'll know whats up.i'm keeping the faith, and motivation up. thanks to my newly extended friends..thanks everyone,you all are too cool..matin spears

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thanks olenavygoat. i have wriiten down the information, and will check the web site in the morning. i did try to send a reply to you, but i'm still trying to get a hang of maneuvering through the web site. i guess my first attempt was a no go.i appreciate the input. i'll let ya'll know whats up.i'm keeping the faith, and motivation up. thanks to my newly extended friends..thanks everyone,you all are too cool..matin spears

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