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Was told yesterday in training of all MST/PACT VSR/Rvsrs that our job is to bankrupt gov

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brokensoldier244th

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...and give out as much/many benefits as possible. This was by the training leader who used to work in Office of Field Operations.

While it seems sometimes that the VA is an antagonistic agency, there are those of us within it that do believe in what we do and TRY in our own small ways to get things moving, or out to the veteran. This meeting/training yesterday was a multi-RO level collaborative and continuing training/update for PACT Act and MST. We have it about every month or 2 to keep track of internal or external guidance changes for (mostly) PACT claims review and rating. This call had everyone from Asst directors (RO level), coaches, RVSRs, Authorizers, and peons like me on it. 

The mentality of the VA is not completely against veterans, although in individual decisions at a micro level it can seem that way, especially when magnified by the internet. Negative decisions for veterans, or VA f*ck ups from years ago are constantly brought to the foreground via forum searches or internet searches, and unless someone is prepared to do some digging and cross-referencing, at the top-level everything reads as 'current' information.

Many times it isn't, or prior negative decisions were based on older regulations since changed, and/or VA screwups (exam scheduling, documents shredding) are brought up from years ago, and made seemingly current. 

Am I blanket apologizing? Hell no, I know the VA screws up- its the basis of my job for the last several months to review specific claims that were denied 2,3,4 times from years ago, and I'm still finding claims that I get overturned. But still, I guess I posted this so that you all can see that there are pockets within the VA where people are trying to do right by veterans. Its part of why I applied to work there 3 yrs ago- I could get as much or more done 'inside' than from just helping people prepare claims on the 'outside'. 

 

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LOL. I understand. He wasn't advocating a blanket approval of every claim, but the context was that even if, say, a PACT doesn't apply due to no foreign service or some other thing, we can still award based on Direct basis, or secondary- basically, if we do a search on a veteran for exposure pathways/locations for PACT and don't find anything, just because the veteran submitted under PACT - don't consider it a done deal (this was for both development VSRs, and RVSRs) and deny, or in my case, stop developing, just because 1 thing was found unlikely. There are other pathways to service connection. It was a strong reminder to everyone to maintain situational awareness of other theories that could be explored, at least through an exam, or through a different and varied review of the existing evidence. 

 I got one yesterday where the veteran has been denied multiple times because RMC lost their STRs sometime in the 90s. I have about 8 pages of STR, however what I DO have shows - enlisted sound, a year later suddenly deteriorates, goes to Portsmouth mult times over a 4 month prd, and then is PEB'd as unfit.  Denial was based on no MH/BH markers in STRs....which don't exist. However, unexplained multiple sick-calls in a short period of time that corresponds with a claimed MST incident- that is a marker all by itself, and wasn't addressed by the rater. Veteran also has a pos VAMC medical opinion. 

Veteran submitted a request to withdraw claim- they just don't want to deal with it anymore- that's why I got it. They submit withdraw request, wait 30 days, withdraw claim unless they change their mind- that's the regulation.

After reviewing all the above, I think that I can get it in front of a rater to review and possibly grant without an exam (veteran is on SSA for MH, also) and without an exam or further trauma/stress to the veteran. So, I'm sending it to a rater anyway. If its granted AWESOME. If its not, the claim is withdrawn anyway based on veteran's wishes. I have a 30 day window right now to operate within, so I'm going to use it. 

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@brokensoldier244th I hope you are able to get that MST vet some justice. Glad you are looking out for them to attempt to maximize their benefits. I know that I rarely saw that happen with my VA claims. Good to know that there is someone who cares.

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 I have always admired your perseverance  and patience through the negativity towards the VA, of whom I have been a major contributor. The negative always outweighs the bad, and there are those vets who have been seriously harmed, emotionally, financially, physically, etc. and so I don't minimize their sufferings.

My experiences in the last two years have shown me that there have been improvements in the VBA side of things. I do however, cringe at the thought that bureaucrats are encouraging spending in ways that may not be good. Is there an argument for it? Sure, but approving claims and spending, spending, spending, is not (and it just cannot be) the best way forward. Albeit, it's a popular (and very politically) strategic position to take.

I'm "enjoying" my 100%, so I'll end my response there before I say any more.

Semper Fi,

Sgt. Wilky

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1 hour ago, brokensoldier244th said:

LOL. I understand. He wasn't advocating a blanket approval of every claim, but the context was that even if, say, a PACT doesn't apply due to no foreign service or some other thing, we can still award based on Direct basis, or secondary- basically, if we do a search on a veteran for exposure pathways/locations for PACT and don't find anything, just because the veteran submitted under PACT - don't consider it a done deal (this was for both development VSRs, and RVSRs) and deny, or in my case, stop developing, just because 1 thing was found unlikely. There are other pathways to service connection. It was a strong reminder to everyone to maintain situational awareness of other theories that could be explored, at least through an exam, or through a different and varied review of the existing evidence. 

 I got one yesterday where the veteran has been denied multiple times because RMC lost their STRs sometime in the 90s. I have about 8 pages of STR, however what I DO have shows - enlisted sound, a year later suddenly deteriorates, goes to Portsmouth mult times over a 4 month prd, and then is PEB'd as unfit.  Denial was based on no MH/BH markers in STRs....which don't exist. However, unexplained multiple sick-calls in a short period of time that corresponds with a claimed MST incident- that is a marker all by itself, and wasn't addressed by the rater. Veteran also has a pos VAMC medical opinion. 

Veteran submitted a request to withdraw claim- they just don't want to deal with it anymore- that's why I got it. They submit withdraw request, wait 30 days, withdraw claim unless they change their mind- that's the regulation.

After reviewing all the above, I think that I can get it in front of a rater to review and possibly grant without an exam (veteran is on SSA for MH, also) and without an exam or further trauma/stress to the veteran. So, I'm sending it to a rater anyway. If its granted AWESOME. If its not, the claim is withdrawn anyway based on veteran's wishes. I have a 30 day window right now to operate within, so I'm going to use it. 

O, Okay...what you said makes sense. Blanket approvals, and then a subsequent review down the road has been debated a lot as an alternative to the perceived constant denials, but that would be a bigger headache than what we have, and then you'd have any more turds coming out of the woods with claims that aren't legit.

Year ago, back in '05 or '06 I worked with a turd ball who was telling everyone that he was busted up, ptsd, all this stuff, just to get free money from the VA. He was a supply truck driver in Kuwait. That guy right there single-handedly kept me from filing claims because he was faking it, and that pissed me off.

I don't remember where I was going with that, but I'm glad you clarified that.

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