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Opinion on Personal Statement

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Rick Rex

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I am writing to provide additional information in support of my claim for benefits related to my diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, and Chronic Pancreatitis as well as other diagnosed illnesses, in which I believe are connected to my military service, due to exposure to Trichloroethylene (TCE) at Edwards AFB as applicable under the PACT ACT and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) during my active duty service at Edwards AFB.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) as a Superfund site due to the contamination of trichloroethylene (TCE).  TCE contamination was found in soil and groundwater at the base.

A number of US Government agencies studies and scientific reports have clearly shown trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure to Parkinson's disease including a study published by the United States Department of Defense in 2011. This study found a nexus between TCE exposure and an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease among military personnel.

The EPA has also listed Pancreatitis in the SuperFund document for inclusion of illnesses that trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination at Edwards could contribute to or exacerbate the development of pancreatitis among individuals exposed to the contaminated environment.

In 2006, I received a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, bringing with it symptoms like tremors, stiffness, balance and coordination difficulties,  and sleep disturbances, profoundly affecting my daily life and work capacity.  

I was also diagnosed with Chronic Pancreatitis, Hypertension , Diverticulitis, Focal Epilepsy, Kidney disease Depression, and other conditions where upon I was granted Social Security Disability benefits in 2009, dating back to November 2006, due to my disabilities and inability to work.   

Having been designated as disabled by the Social Security Administration, I firmly believe that the Veterans Affairs should also recognize my disability in order to receive disability benefits, as it can clearly be demonstrated as service connected by other governmental agencies.  

Both institutions evaluate disability based on similar criteria, and my condition impacts my ability to work and function effectively. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect consistency in their assessments to ensure adequate support for individuals like myself who require assistance due to disabilities.

The experience of applying for Social Security Disability was incredibly insulting and emotionally distressing.  

Suffering with my depression, I even reached a point where I contemplated suicide because of the negative feedback from the initial examiner, who made false and factually incorrect statements on federal documents. 

Feeling absolutely helpless seeking earned aid from the government I gave so much to in serving.  I was treated like a liar, an alcoholic (I’ve never been a drinker) and someone whose character was in question, which was an absolute insult upon insult given my service to my country.

My psychiatrist, through counseling and medication aided me to get through this miserable time of helplessness and suicidal thoughts.

It was only after seeking legal representation that the truth emerged, identifying the false statements, the insults, and the falsification of federal documents by the government examiner that led to my rightful approval for SSDI.  

I cannot express how absolutely devastated I was to experience that type of treatment from a government I served so faithfully and sacrificed for.  

My integrity was proven time and time again, during my active duty in the performance of my duties.  I was recognized on numerous occasions with quarterly awards; and receiving a yearly award two years in a row, an accomplishment that had never been accomplished before or since in my career field.

During my military tenure as a Contract Specialist and Warranted Contracting Officer at Edwards AFB, I honestly believed I encountered TCE, in various locations like the AFRL Rocket Test Stand, North and South Base, and NASA, Aircraft Wash Rack, and other locations where I became exposed by dust, dirt and standing ground water while fulfilling my duty obligations to insure contractual compliance and requirements.  

Additionally, my family and I resided in Base Housing at Edwards Air Force Base. During our time on base, my daughter developed Pancreatitis, leading to her diagnosis as a Type 1 diabetic.  

Tragically, she eventually passed away due to complications of that disease.

Also while assigned to Edwards AFB, I experienced a motorcycle accident during my active duty, that resulted in a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); leaving me unconscious; and with amnesia for two days.  Consequently, my performance in my duties suffered, as reflected in my later Airman Performance Reports.

In other scientific studies and reports.  The combination of TBI and toxic exposure increase risk of Parkinson’s Disease in a more than additive fashion, providing additional support for a nexus of an in service relationship.

In regards to my depression; I get feelings of worthlessness and guilt for not being able to perform regular tasks.  

I struggle with cognitive challenges such as difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things.  

I get into ridiculous arguments with my wife over the stupidest reasons, afterwards I would uncontrollably cry about how childish and immature I had become.  Emotionally hurting my wife who is just trying to help and care for me, and my condition.  

My wife has to constantly remind me to take my medication, and often has to tell me I have to eat.  

Basic conversations often leave me confused, requiring my wife to explain slowly and clearly so I understand.  I dread going out in public, fearing judgment for my tremors, and find myself avoiding interactions due to frustration, anger, and anxiety.  

I find I have a very short tolerance for people.  I have no feelings of empathy, or interest in having almost any conversations with them whatsoever.  

Enduring constant pain every day, I haven't had a restful night's sleep in ages, frequently waking up multiple times during the night with body pain and headaches. 

Besides Parkinson's disease, a TBI, and depression I've also been diagnosed with several other conditions that have emerged since my initial diagnosis.  

I became addicted to numerous opiate medications, taking over 120 plus tablets of Vicodin and Norco a month.  Luckily, with great effort and help from my wife I was able to stop and quit taking those opioids, and just accept the pain and take over the counter medications to help deal with it.

I also quit taking Gabapentin, as it was making my brain too foggy, severe mood changes, and my body sluggish.  

These are my current medications I take;

Carbidopa/Levodopa 25-100MG, 3X a day

Glimepiride 4MG, 2X a day

Trazodone 100MG, 1X a day 

Levothyroxine .175MG, 1X a day 

Amlodipine Besylate 5MG, 1X a day

Losartan/HCTZ 100/12.5MG, 1X a day

Metoprolol ER Succinate 25MG, 1X a day 

Clopidogrel 75MG, 1X a day

Atorvastatin 10MG, 1X a day 

Tamsulosin .4MG, 2X a day 

Metformin 500MG 1X a day 

I also use THC Edibles as additional supplement for my Parkinson’s medicine; various vitamins and supplements to help control the degradation of my body due to these diseases.

I work hard at physical and brain exercises to help keep me balanced and health at best I can.

I have attached supporting documentation, including medical records, diagnostic reports, and statements to substantiate my claim. 

I respectfully request that the Department of Veterans Affairs thoroughly consider the above and all the evidence provided, especially those most favorable to me, in order to properly evaluate and approve the benefits to which I am entitled

I truly appreciate and thank you for your attention and effort in this matter.

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Welcome to hadit.  Sometimes, when dealing with VA, less is more.  

For example, you posted:

Quote

Having been designated as disabled by the Social Security Administration, I firmly believe that the Veterans Affairs should also recognize my disability in order to receive disability benefits, as it can clearly be demonstrated as service connected by other governmental agencies.  

This is somewhat true, but not necessarily so.  You can be disabled from social security, but it depends on what social security counted you disabled FOR.  It should show that in your SSD letter.  THose disabilities need to be SERVICE connected, or at least those you are seeking service connection for.   As an example, if you were disabled from a car accident after military service for social security, that wont get you disability with VA, as its not service connected, because your car accident was after service.  So, be sure you have, or are going to seek VA disability compensation for all the disabilitiy conditions listed on your social security disability.  

Social security will count you disabled if you are disabled for any reason.  VA insists your disability is from service connected conditions.  

I suggest you leave in the parts about suicide ideation, and psychiatric treatment.  If you have been treated by a private (not VA) doc, include the doctors name, and, you will need to sign a release of information if you want that as evidence.  

However, I would NOT include anything getting legal representation, addiction to opiates, or how hard you work.  Remember:

Quote

VA can, and does, use anything you say against you, so often you can "say too much".  How do I know?  Because I did it also.  

Now, Im "Sargeant FRiday" (Just the facts maam).   I like to plug the facts into the Caluza elements, which are required for service connection.  

1.  Military Service:  Edwards AFB (dates of service).  I was exposed to 

TCE contamination was found in soil and groundwater at the base. Edwards AFB is apparently a Superfund site due to this contamination.  Source:  EPA :https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0902725.   I seek benefits under the pact act.  

I also suffered a TBI.  (Show evidence of time, place of TBI in service)

2.  I seek VA benefits for the following: my claim for benefits related to my diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, and Chronic Pancreatitis as well as other diagnosed illnesses, in which I believe are connected to my military service, TO INCLUDE MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS as so diagnosed by a doctor, and (TDIU).  

3.  Now, you need a nexus.  Check your medical records, and see if a doctor says your (conditionS) are at least as likely as not due to exposure to TCE or other toxins, or to TBI.  

Good luck to you, sir.  Do you have a local VSO?  Given your TBI, and your experience with SSD, you may need some help with VA, also.  You may be able to find a VSO at your local VA medical center.  Keep us informed, we can help with denials and much more. 

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I would leave out the references to your other family members, and to SSA. VA will already know that you are SSDI/SSA, its part of what we look up. The references to your family may be useful if they were discovery for court, but VA disability is about you, and only you. if it didn't happen to you or wasn't experienced by you, it didn't happen.  I would simplify your support statement down to the bare minimum of What you have for a service connection event and any treatment in service or complaint in service, something that shows you have a current disability now, and then briefly explain how you think they are related. Posting studies about things that you weren't directly involved with (like medical trials, for example) doesn't do much for you because the studies aren't about 'you', they are cross-section of other people. VA, for good or ill, is only concerned about you- its like the MST claims I work on- you may have a personal trauma event/PTSD or similar because of something you witnessed, but for MST specifically if you saw something happen to someone ELSE its not an MST based claim, because MST by definition has to be experienced by you.

 

Bronco pretty much covered the rest. 

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Posted (edited)
On 3/28/2024 at 7:49 PM, broncovet said:

Welcome to hadit.  Sometimes, when dealing with VA, less is more.  

For example, you posted:

This is somewhat true, but not necessarily so.  You can be disabled from social security, but it depends on what social security counted you disabled FOR.  It should show that in your SSD letter.  THose disabilities need to be SERVICE connected, or at least those you are seeking service connection for.   As an example, if you were disabled from a car accident after military service for social security, that wont get you disability with VA, as its not service connected, because your car accident was after service.  So, be sure you have, or are going to seek VA disability compensation for all the disabilitiy conditions listed on your social security disability.  

Social security will count you disabled if you are disabled for any reason.  VA insists your disability is from service connected conditions.  

I suggest you leave in the parts about suicide ideation, and psychiatric treatment.  If you have been treated by a private (not VA) doc, include the doctors name, and, you will need to sign a release of information if you want that as evidence.  

However, I would NOT include anything getting legal representation, addiction to opiates, or how hard you work.  Remember:

Now, Im "Sargeant FRiday" (Just the facts maam).   I like to plug the facts into the Caluza elements, which are required for service connection.  

1.  Military Service:  Edwards AFB (dates of service).  I was exposed to 

TCE contamination was found in soil and groundwater at the base. Edwards AFB is apparently a Superfund site due to this contamination.  Source:  EPA :https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0902725.   I seek benefits under the pact act.  

I also suffered a TBI.  (Show evidence of time, place of TBI in service)

2.  I seek VA benefits for the following: my claim for benefits related to my diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, and Chronic Pancreatitis as well as other diagnosed illnesses, in which I believe are connected to my military service, TO INCLUDE MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS as so diagnosed by a doctor, and (TDIU).  

3.  Now, you need a nexus.  Check your medical records, and see if a doctor says your (conditionS) are at least as likely as not due to exposure to TCE or other toxins, or to TBI.  

Good luck to you, sir.  Do you have a local VSO?  Given your TBI, and your experience with SSD, you may need some help with VA, also.  You may be able to find a VSO at your local VA medical center.  Keep us informed, we can help with denials and much more. 

Get a copy of your Social Security CAVES Report.  Social Security does a much better evaluation and has no limitations in medical reporting with regard to etiology.  The family statements are in there.  Hopefully, when interviewed, they said, "since he came back from the service."  They will have interviewed any employers, or friends you mentioned as witnesses of you disability.

Rely heavily on the CAVES report in your brief and statements to the BVA stating as I have above.  That the SS examiners have no pressure to avoid mentioning etiology (cause) from VA supervisory pressure including on the VA contractors to keep their contracts and SS physicians are not limited to following the examination wherever it goes.  Their statements are unbiased against the veteran's service connection though it may not be stated in the VBA terms.

Edited by Lemuel
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