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Meniscus Tear and ACL Completely Torn - Service connection advice?

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Any advice appreciated. Do I actually have a valid claim? I suck at this stuff and want honest advice.

I was a Loadmaster who experienced frequent tears in my right knee since 2012. I stepped on a roller wrong and something popped, knee swolled up and couldnt put much weight on it for a week. This usually happens every other month. Seperated in 2014. I usually just rested for a week or so as it healed up and I would usually just shift my weight on my left leg and hobble around. At my date of seperation, I went to the VA and put down my Right Knee as an issue. "Right Knee Instability".

In 2014, seen the VA rater and they asked me how I could use it. I was blatantly honest. Looking back, they were trying to find reasons not to service connect me. Being honest, I told them that I could technically run on the knee, but it would randomly "pop" if I stepped on it wrong and swell up, and be unusable many times throughout the year, each year since 2012. So on their rating decision, they said because I had the ability to run, they completely denied my claim. So I did not do an appeal.

Fast Forward to 2023, it just feels normal to use my left leg more dominantly for everything. Well, I stepped sideways wrong on my left knee and came crashing to the ground. Went to the doctor. Fully torn ACL. I had surgery to have a brand new Cadaver/ACL put into my knee. Just now finishing up Physical Therapy.

I have no medical evidence while in the USAF other than the day I left, filing the claim and making statements with there being an issue. Does anyone have advice on how to proceed?

I still have Meniscus tears on my right knee. Am still somewhat primarily using my left knee with my new ACL as my more dominant knee out of habit, and somewhat because I am scared to rip my Meniscus. I am still in my late 30s, so I just feel like having knee issues since my 20s is not a normal thing.

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If you received no type of in service treatment or medications for your knee problems then this is a tough nut to crack.  However if you have or get a current diagnosis and/or medical treatment notes from a doctor or medical specialist describing you knee injury symptoms and if you can convince the doctor to write a nexus opinion statement that he/she believes your knee medical issues are a direct result of your service as an AF load master in service then this would be a tremendous help to you.

Also submit any buddy statements you can attesting to your duties as a load master and they witnessing your injury and pain from such injury.  Family member statement can be of some benefit.

You will have to file a new claim or a supplemental claim with new evidence to the VARO VA raters and submit copies of all the above plus any service records listing your military occupational specialty (MOS).  The VA probably already has all this on file from your previous claim.  If this is a new reopened claim then you will have to use VA Form 21-526EZ.  The Supplemental claim form for new evidence is VA form 20-0995 and must be filed within one year from date of your denial letter from VA.

Do not volunteer any information to the C&P examiner such as you are doing just fine and you can run on your knee/leg.  That is just plain stupid.  Good luck.  Others will be along soon with more advice.

My comment is not legal advice as I am not a lawyer, paralegal or VSO.



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As a follow up to my first comment it would also be helpful to provide photo copies only of any photos you have showing you manhandling heavy loads inside or near the ramp (outside) as a active load master.  However, the above mentioned medical evidence is most important for you to stand a chance of winning a claim.

An accredited DAV, VFR, Legion, etc. VSO found at a VA regional office can be of great assist in your claim/s. They charge nothing to vets and you do not have to be a member of any of their organizations.

My comment is not legal advice as I am not a lawyer, paralegal or VSO.

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