The Forgotten

My father served in Vietnam in the late 1960s. When he came home, he was spit on and called a baby killer. He was one of too many. Everyone hated him and everyone that put that uniform on. That was a horrible time for our military.

As our country engages more and more across the world, spreading our military might too thin, their overall support dwindles. I watched as everyone wore their American Pride well during the First Gulf war in 1989. But the political landscape capped that quite well – “It’s all about the oil.” Everyone listens to the media.

And then one horrible day that has spread across the world, 9/11 ripped through our lives, everyone’s lives. And our national pride soared once more. For a while, anyway. And then everyone started listening to the media again. The spun any part of “The War on Terror” as a waste of money, Bush’s War, the daily death count. I was confused when the new phrases came out – “Where’s the weapons of Mass destruction?” No one could think that a plane would be a weapon of mass destruction, or bio-weapons. All they cared about was seeing the nukes. Where were the nukes? Unfortunately, we gave them plenty of time to get those out of their country. And when we couldn’t produce a cache of weapons that the media wanted and the fact that we weren’t getting out of there any time soon, the phrase changed to,  “Support our troops, but not the war.” How can you support that which engages in the thing you don’t like? It was a complete conundrum for me that still leaves me scratching my head. Just ugh.

Why do we continue to hate on our military?

According to a report released in March 2016 by the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, the greatest number of Veterans still comes from the Vietnam Era, closely followed by  peacetime only Veterans and then The First Gulf War. Yet, everyone focuses their attention, and money, on those Post-911 veterans, which only account for 13% of the total number of Veterans in that census.

Thirteen.

And yet, they are the ones who receive the attention, the focus, the help. They are the ones that all the charities gear their marketing efforts towards. In 2014, there were 19.3 million veterans living in the US and PR. Of those 19.3 million veterans, only 3.8 million have been awarded a service connected disability. Other statistics include: 7 million served in Vietnam, 5.5 million served during the Gulf War era (representing service from August 1990 to present), and 2.5 million served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, when I say that 2.5 million served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m sure that is an accurate number in the sense that there were 2.5 million people deployed to those areas. However, it is a well-known fact that of those 2.5 million people quite a lot have been on multiple deployments. So, in essence, there aren’t 2.5 million veterans of those two wars. The RAND Association explains it best –  in troop years, rather than number of deployed. At present, I have been unable to locate the exact number of Iraq and Iran Veterans. However, RAND is stating the strength of approximately 554,000 soldiers in December 2011. The VA is reporting that it has seen approximately 860,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans utilizing their Health System.

As the US Veteran population ages, the older generation numbers will dwindle. This is only natural. But with our continuing efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of veterans from these two areas will undoubtedly surpass the Vietnam era.

I am in no way trying to downplay the younger generation of veterans. By no means. What I am trying to point out is that Every Veteran Matters. 

And that’s how ALL these benefits/charities SHOULD be run. But they’re not.

I lived through my husband’s combat deployment. He experienced it. Still experiences it. Every. Horrible. Moment. And how many people remember Kosovo and their atrocities?

Only those who went there in the beginning.

So why is it that only the latest veterans, those post-911 combat veterans, are the only ones to get any benefits, any assistance, anything from anyone?

We are not ones to ask for assistance or help. We are those people who would offer up our help to others, no matter how bad off we were. But this last year has put us in a bind. With my medical insurance premiums and cost going up, the services and prescriptions covered going down, we’ve pretty much wiped out our savings. The VA hasn’t paid for any of the procedures he’s gone through since they stopped working back in 2012 or so. I can’t remember the last time he went. They don’t pay for any of his pain medications. So we are forced, now, to go seek civilian help.

He’s been going to a civilian neurologist since we moved to Florida and he’s been doing Botox injections in his neck and shoulders for his dystonia. For the past two years, all we had to pay for was the doctor visit for this procedure. Now, we have to pay for the Botox and the doctor visit. At $1000 every 3 months, that’s a no go. So he hasn’t had this since October of 2015. His pain is ever-increasing.

I did some digging and found out that now the VA Pain Center can do the Botox injections for him. I also want him to try ketamine infusions, as it’s helped a couple of people with their chronic pain that no pain medications have been able to touch.

In January 2016, I called for a VA neurology consultation so he could possibly be seen for both Botox injections and get a referral for the ketamine infusions. February 3, 2016 was his appointment and the VA neurologist evaluated him and said he’d refer him over to the VA Pain Center where they do the treatments. March rolls by and so does April. OK, we knew we’d have to wait, but I had him call and check anyway. Come to find out, February 4, 2016 another neurologist revoked his referral due to “having a civilian neurologist and received Botox there.”

Um, no! Just no!

So he had to fight to get that referral reinstated and he had his fist consult with the VA Pain Center in May 2016. Despite having previously been seen there, with quite a few procedures that eventually failed, and records to show for it, the evaluating “doctor” decides to “try” a procedure he had, that failed, twice, since he hadn’t been there in several years. He kept trying to say it was “new” when it really was the exact same procedure he’s had there before. We are convinced he was fishing to get TheHubs to say, “no, I don’t want to do that” just so the VA could deny him benefits because he refused a recommended treatment. But TheHubs suffered through this treatment in June 2016, which seems to have made his pain worse. They have scheduled his Botox injections for the end of October 2016 (a full year without Botox, so it’s like starting completely from scratch.) And to top it off, they can only inject HALF of what he was getting in the civilian world. HALF! How the heck is that even going to help when his full dose only took the edge off the pain!?

Not only do we have to deal with all his VA and civilian doctors, TheBoy had to have surgery on both his feet last year. Now he’s in braces, which we are still paying on. And, of course, my medical issues. And last month, our A/C died. At 95 degrees, in Florida, you don’t want your A/C to die. I had just emptied out our savings to pay off all the medical bills and then this happened. Everyone in my support groups were great, giving me places to apply for assistance, in the hopes that someone, somewhere could help me with the payment of a brand new A/C handler and compressor.

That’s when I found just how frustrated and forgotten TheHubs REALLY feels…

Out of about 35 organizations I tried, only 2 were open to all eras. But both of them were out of money. Everywhere else, you had to be a post-911 combat wounded veteran. I was crushed. All the charities I see out there, helping people with all kinds of needs and assistance, and we don’t qualify. Just like the VA Caregiver Program or any of the “automatic benefits” these veterans get without having to fight for their compensation Retreats, discounts, even a day at an amusement park (even *if* he could go with all those people) are not an option for him. Heck, even just a simple tool box for veterans, and we were denied.

Nope, we have to fight tooth and nail for everything he deserves. He has always called it “The Forgotten War.” I understood it. But now, I am seeing it as “The Forgotten Veterans,” too. It breaks my heart. And what about my dad? He had to wait 30 years before the government would even acknowledge the fact that they used Agent Orange. Luckily, now they have automatic diagnosis that fall into the Agent Orange category. But, really, any assistance that my mom might need, like the Caregiver Program, is lost to her as well.

I just can’t believe that we are a NATION OF NOW, a reactionary force to whatever happens to be in your face at the moment. And since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are still ongoing, because the returning and broken veterans are so young and so plentiful, more people see them, see their wounds, and want to help…them.

I want to know where we can go for ALL era veterans. I want to know why we continue to discriminate and forget about those that came before. I want to know why we can’t recognize and help them too! This is only a small portion that adds to the 22 veterans a day that die by their own hands. I only hope I can keep his hope from fading!

LadyJai

 

 

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VA Appeal Update #2

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PTSD, TBI, Sex and Relationships

After 26 years of marriage, we’ve only just now started opening up more, having conversations about these very topics. I have not been able to put them into words yet. I am still processing. But this….this post explains it all. I will return here and re-read and re-read until I can understand it better. I don’t think I can fully understand what goes on in his mind. I don’t think he ever wants me to, either. But this blog post helps me tremendously. I do hope it helps you too.

Life After War

You came back different. Changed. You can’t really describe  it, but you’re not yourself. Not who you used to be. You’re angry. Blow up at stupid shit. Lack other emotions. Feel numb. Tired. Disinterested in stuff that used to be interesting. Tense. Sleepless. Have nightmares that scare the hell out of you. Forget shit. Can’t focus. You miss your buddies. Miss the war. Miss the ones you lost. Miss feeling like you used to feel. Before.

He came home. Different. Instead of you being able to step back and let him take over sharing the household, childcare and financial responsibilities, you have to take care of him now, too. He’s angry. Silent, except when he’s mad. He can’t remember shit. Seems unmotivated. And distant. He’s up all night; keeps you up all night. Spends more time on the sofa than in bed. Keeps loaded guns around the house. Is edgy…

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Building A Support System

I’ve come to realize, these last few years, that it is very important for caregivers to have a support system in place. Without it, we would go insane. I spent nearly 13 years thinking I was alone in my struggles, that no one could ever understand my home environment, my husband’s issues, and the daily struggles we go through. Now, after being introduced to the military caregiver community, I know that despite the different situations that got us all on this path, we all share the same struggles. Maybe not at the same time, but we have or we will. We are all on the same road, just at different points. We can offer up advice to those just starting, or gain knowledge and wisdom from those further along the road. I was blessed with this realization and with the group I formed a bond with, and the one person I spoke to daily. I actually had my first friend in 10 years.

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And then the S*%t hit the fan.

Even though we were all experiencing similar issues and in a group to SUPPORT one another, drama still unfolded. I don’t do drama well. And when I start seeing favoritism and rule breaking, especially when it harms the entire group, I had to say something. And when I spoke up, I was the one ostracized and then the bullying redirected my way. I couldn’t stay quiet. I stood my ground and lost everything because of it.

It’s been 8 months since that happened. I was devastated. I lost my support group. I lost my friend. I lost my lifeline. I started slipping back into the darkness and began listening to my demons again.

This time, though, I knew I could get out of that funk. I knew there were others out there that were living similar issues. I knew I just had to find them. It was a struggle for sure. I went through several new online support groups. None of them really clicked. Some even dissolved as soon as I joined due to previous drama of their own. Others I am in are not very active at all.

One group formed out of the dissolution of another and I was invited into it. Since then, it has grown and I have been pretty active in there. It’s not as quaint as the previous one and the growing numbers make it a tad hard to connect with any one individual. But another good thing came out of this group. Since we’ve grown so large, and the caregiver community is so spread out, we have branched off into state groups as well. This may be a bit more manageable, as well as closer both physically and emotionally since we are all in the same state and in smaller numbers.

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I feel like I’m back on the track with an online support system. I have forgiven those from the previous group who left me broken. I have an online support where I can go and ask a question and offer assistance and prayers when needed. Now, though, I have to find people I can go to locally that I can ask if something were to go catastrophically wrong.

There have been times I had to take TheHubs to the ER where we had to wait and wait and wait. We usually waited so long that we had no food and no one to come bring us food, especially for a growing boy. This is when I realized I needed a local support system as well.

Unfortunately, I’ve always been one to never ask for help. I will gladly give of myself to others in their time of need. But when it comes to me, it’s like I just don’t want to burden anyone with my issues. Why do I do this? I am human. I have problems. Everyone has problems. And I don’t think it is a burden when someone comes to me with a problem. But my problems I view as burdens. Why? I have yet to figure this out. And I have to consciously acknowledge this and accept that I am human and my problems are not a burden to others who want to help and have offered. This is sooooo hard. Even though I have my parents close by, they are still a 45 minute to an hour drive from us. And it’s still hard for me to tell them all that we struggle with. Plus, they have their own lives. Even though they are retired, they still are always on the go, so when appointments come up for us that do not mesh well with school or work or other activities, I have to rearrange schedules or take time off work. That aspect is getting a bit easier as TheBoy ages though. But still, I worry about what would happen if…

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to accomplish a local support system? How to allow myself to let go and ask for help when I need it? Anyone?

Maybe I just need lessons on how to be a good friend because it’s a two-way street.😛

LadyJai

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Anxiety, Depression, And Secondary PTSD
You Are Not Alone
My poem about depression and hope, entitled Pieces

The Little Things

I realized that I have always been the one to love the “little” things. Those small tokens given to me by friends and loved ones are the ones I hold dear. Not the obligatory Christmas, birthday, or Valentines gifts. No, it’s the ones that come “just because”.  Those are the ones I cling to. The ones I find tucked away in a drawer or a box after I’ve forgotten about them. But I never throw them away.

I have a tiny crocheted bear that was given to me by a very close friend when I was in 9th grade. I found it again a few years back when I was going through my boxes I had all my England stuff in. I have notes from friends we passed back and forth to each other in school. I even have a silly little piece of paper with a “I love you” note from TheHubs from when we first got married tucked away in a binder I used to carry. I have a 3×5 card from him that he wrote telling me not to worry because I will be home soon. I have it pinned to my cube wall. Another note on my wall is from my son when he was 5 and a poem he wrote me when he was 7.

It’s always the small things that mean so much!

A few years back I was cleaning out the mess beneath my bathroom sink. But when I pulled out my basket of hair stuff, I found a card my husband had given me, I don’t know when. I just sat there on the floor of the bathroom, reading and feeling the love. Now I carry it around in my bag to work so when I need a reminder, I just pull it out and smile.

My husband is not much of a wordsmith. I know that. But sometimes just the simplest of words can really hit me in all the feels!

Yup, you guessed it, it made me cry.

Of course I told TheHubs I found it and what it said. And of course, he said, “Absolutely true. I will never regret asking you. I love you.”

Then, a few days, maybe a week later, TheHubs showed me a video on YouTube. I’ve heard the song before and really like it. But TheHubs hadn’t heard it before. He said he heard it on the way to taking TheBoy to school and he thought of me and it made him cry. It was how he felt about me.

Again, the tears flowed again.

But all these tears are happy tears. They are the little things that mean so much to the heart and to the soul. They are the positives we all need to find in our own lives. I am so glad to have found them and to share them with you. Because I know, if I share them, someone out there will be thinking about their own little pieces of positive.❤

I wrote this letter to John Legend thanking him for his song, All of Me, around out 25th Anniversary. However, I do not know how to get it to him. I tried to win his Valentine’s Day Sweepstakes he had last year where he auctioned off a chance to have him sing at your wedding. While it would not have been our “wedding,” we have always wanted to renew our vows on our 25th. With our life, his pain, and always the lack of money, we never got a chance to have our vows renewed and had a honeymoon. I would have so loved for Mr. Legend to sing this for us. But I am so happy for the lovely couple who did win it. If you have the time, click-through to watch the video. It was just beautiful!

I do hope that one day he WILL read it and understand the depth of the impact that song had on us.

Dear Mr. John Legend,

I wanted to take the time to write you a letter regarding your song, All Of Me. I’m sure you’ve heard many a story about this song and how it is so incredibly perfect; but I’d like to share with you my story and how it has impacted my life.

The first time my husband heard your song, really listened to it, was right after he dropped our son off at the school bus stop. He told me he sat there, parked, with tears streaming down his face. When he told me this, it brought tears to my eyes.

Our story is much like a fairy tale, at least in the beginning, maybe even now but in a different from normal way. It’s not really love at first sight so much as two souls, destined to be together, finally finding one another and holding on. Five days after we met, he asked me to marry him. A month later we were married. December 22nd we celebrated our 25thanniversary. We’ve beaten so many odds, so many things that would have torn even the best couples apart, to get where we are today.

I’ve been paranoid since day one that he’d leave me. Because my father was in the Air Force and we moved around every four years, it’s been difficult to keep relationships – friendships and boyfriends. They either failed after a period of time or they disappeared into the wind. And because my upbringing has shaped my view of myself, I’ve always blamed myself for their failing. For me, it’s been hard to accept that he would be around so long. To this day I still have sad dreams where he leaves me. I never truly understood just how much he loves me.

My husband is also a disabled veteran who suffers chronic migraines, chronic neck pain, PTSD, and TBI. Before we had the diagnoses, before we had it managed, we didn’t know how to communicate. I think being a man is hard enough when our boys are raised not to show emotion. It’s a sign of weakness. But to be a soldier and to have emotional issues is a hundred times worse. They tell the soldiers to “Buck up. Charge on. Embrace the suck. Deal with it. Get over it.” But they never tell them how. They are left broken, not only on the outside, but on the inside as well. So when all these emotions, all these fears, and nightmares manifested inside him, things didn’t go well in our house. It didn’t help not knowing what the problem was and all the medication and medication changes really messed up his brain chemistry, too. He never knew how to tell me what was going on in his mind. Most of the time it came out through anger – not at me; but I always managed to feel it was my fault. He never knew how to express himself without saying something wrong. So he kept it all bottled up inside him. Silence killed me. I always imagined the worst. But I loved him. That’s all I could do.

It wasn’t until he sought help that he started learning how to express himself and communicate. In his learning he began teaching me. That was about five years ago. He has opened up to me about what has happened. I doubt I will know everything. But it doesn’t matter. We are communicating and learning. It is a never-ending education. One in which we both must practice.

I think the last two years have been incredibly hard. There was a time my husband rationalized. Because he always feels he is a burden, because his depression has affected me and our son greatly, he felt that I’d be better off without him. He didn’t tell me this at first. I had no idea. We were going through another medication change and I just thought it was his body adjusting to it. I never saw any signs. He wore his mask well. He only told me about it after his epiphany and after he spoke to his doctor about it.

Honestly, it scared me. But I was grateful he didn’t follow through. Lord knows we have enough medication at his fingertips that it would have been so easy for him. But he didn’t. And for that I thank God.

I thought I buried it so I could move on and continue doing what I always did. However, it must have hidden in the darkest of shadows, poking at my subconscious, taunting me because by Christmas 2013, I had fallen into my own dark abyss with no light to guide me through. I thought I was alone, that no one would understand what I deal with on a daily basis. To look at my husband is to look at anyone. He’s even had someone remark in a snide way, “Well, you don’t look disabled.” You cannot imagine how deep this cut him. But he put on a smile, a mask, and said, “Thank you.” To this day, it still eats at him. As for me, when I have had to decline invitations to social gatherings, and explain that we cannot come because of my husband, potential friends’ eyes would glass over in complete incomprehension. After a while, we lost all our friends, and any potentially new ones would stop asking. We were alone. I was alone.

I’ve tried to live my life as positively as possible. I learned to surround myself with positive people and cut out the negatives during my husband’s Kosovo deployment in 1999. I’ve always wanted to help other people find their own positives when I was growing up and I’ve also tried to share that with people on my blog. However, it wasn’t until last year that I realized I need to cut out my inner negative in order to keep my positive life going. Three years ago I came up with the phrase, “Find the positives, no matter how small, in every situation.” I tried to hold on to that when I fell into my pit last year; but the demons screamed louder and blackened the light.

By the time I couldn’t stop crying, I knew I had to seek help. I researched and found a group of military/veteran caregivers and took a chance at their Caring for the Caregiver seminar. It was definitely and eye opener and set me on my path to recovery. My year of healing began January 2013 and will continue the rest of my life. Now, a year later, because I took the time to heal, I can now help my family again.

Being positive is one of the hardest things to do, especially in the face of hopelessness. To me, though, it is the only way to get through life. I love your positivity you exude in your work and your life. You truly are an inspiration. Your release of All of Me hit it big on my 45th birthday. I believe it was a message.

While you wrote that song for your wife, you’ve given my husband a voice to express his feelings for me. While I never truly comprehended the depth of his love, 25 years later, I am starting to understand. Every time your song plays, he tries so hard to sing along. He grabs my hand when I’m near, looks at me when I’m not so near. His eyes glisten and his lips tremble. Most times a single tear will fall. My heart is filled with so much love. I still don’t quite understand, but maybe I’m not supposed to. Maybe I’m just supposed to accept that he loves me so deeply, that we were meant to be together until the end of time, that we are two halves of a single soul merged together forever.

Last week, my husband was sitting on the edge of the bed, listening to your song again and he cried. I hugged him and cried with him. And then he told me that he tried so hard, and for so long to memorize that song for me so he could sing it to me at our 25th anniversary dinner. His traumatic brain injuries and PTSD make it near impossible to commit things to memory anymore. It frustrates him to no end. But this, this just made him sad and angry. He just couldn’t remember the words. Not only that, he couldn’t get past the first verse before he started crying again.

Because we got married so quickly, because we didn’t know each other well when we did get married, and because the military has kept up hopping around since, we didn’t have a honeymoon let alone an “our song.” Now, 25 years later, with the greatest of thanks to you and the love you have for your wife, as well as your gift of poetry and song, All of Me is now our song.

From my heart to yours, thank you.

LadyJai

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VA Appeal Update #6
Advocating For My Wounded Warrior
John Legend – You & I (Nobody In The World)( LIVE from Citi ThankYou)

When The Fog Burns Off

Several weeks ago, my husband called me while I was at work.
Nothing unusual about that.

However, this time his voice was broken and quiet and he said, “Something happened.”

My mind raced within a microsecond of what could possibly have happened. My throat closed. My stomach flipped.

Before the sobs took hold and the line went dead, he managed to tell me of the memory that the fog had shrouded from him since the incident happened in Kosovo back in 1999.

My own silent panic raged inside of me while I dropped everything at work and sped home. He was no longer answering the phone. The more I tried, the faster I drove. Even if we had someone who could go check on him, I knew he was in no state to answer the door. Had I called 911 and had a sheriff go out, it probably could have made things a thousand times worse. I just had to get home as fast as I could.

I already had a plan in my head if I were to get pulled over by the police for speeding. I would have handed them my driver’s license and told them to meet me at my house because my husband was in full PTSD meltdown and I needed to get there as fast as I could. (Honestly, in hindsight, I probably should have called 911 to let them know what I was doing. Not sure how that would have ended though. Would they have come to the house? Would it have made TheHubs worse?)

Once I got home, I found him huddled under the covers, won’t come out from under them. I called his VA doctor and between me talking with him and the nurse talking with him while I held the phone to his ear, we finally calmed him down.

But that memory of his time in Kosovo, that memory that his brain had protected him from, still lingers.

PTSD never gets better. No amount of therapy or drugs can make it so. I don’t care what the VA says. PTSD is something that will haunt the person for the rest of their lives. They, alone, are the only ones who can manage it. Living with someone who suffers PTSD is not so haunting, but it does affect everyone it touches in some way. Those of us who live with, and love, someone who suffers with these demons has to learn to adjust. And the only way to learn is through communication between everyone involved.

I am blessed that he is comfortable enough, trusts me enough, to share with me his demons. But I am also cursed with the knowledge of those demons and knowing that I will never be able to take them from him.

LadyJai

 

 

Related Articles you may like:

Our Story
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Positives For Last Week – #CelebrateTheSmallThings – 5 February 2016

I’m a bit late posting my Celebrate the Small Things. But the positive is, I’m posting now!:)

Obligatory VA selfie!

Obligatory VA selfie!

POSITIVES FOR THIS WEEK:
1) My Hope Bucket for “something to work” for TheHubs has been refilled. I have to remember it’s the VA we are talking about so that Hope Bucket needs to have a filter on it so I don’t let it run away on me.
2) After dealing with the many ID-10-Ts on the road on Friday, we saw a RANDOM ACT OF COMMON SENSE while pulling into Taco Bell so we bought the guys lunch.
3) Took Ms. Rose (the older lady I helped after an accident back in December) to the store and bank since she hasn’t gotten a new car yet. I feel bad for her. She’s always telling me she wishes I were her daughter. She buys me things when I tell her not to. I feel awkward with her, but it’s a good thing to help her out. But I’m still always awkward.

What are you celebrating this week? 

Thank you to our lovely host, Lexa Cain for taking over and continuing the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. I would also like to thank her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom – without them, I’m sure this would be a daunting task!

To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa’s Blog, and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLit)

LadyJai

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VA Appeal Update #6

I contacted the VA Under Secretary, in hopes to either speed up the process or at the very least, let them know about the gobbledygook woman that did his C&P.

Again, they just “passed the buck” on the whole thing. We did get an “update,” if you want to call it that.

Here’s what we got:

STATUS OF APPEAL:  Your husband’s appeal began in July 2011 when VA received his Notice of Disagreement.

BVA VIDEOCONFERENCE HEARING:  On 07-24-14, a videoconference hearing with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) was requested. The next step in the appeals process will be the scheduling of that hearing. Your husband will be notified in writing of the date and time of the hearing.

 A hearing is not required. The wait for a BVA videoconference hearing can be long as there are limited slots available. The St. Petersburg, FL Regional Office – which is where the hearing will be held – received many requests for BVA videoconference hearings prior to your husband’s July 2014 request. Those requests are filled based on date order.

 If your husband decides to withdraw his request for the hearing, the appeal would then go directly to BVA for their review. (provided no additional evidence has been submitted requiring Regional Office action) Please know that he is entitled to a hearing – it is his choice whether to have the hearing. If he decides to withdraw the hearing request, that written, dated, signed statement should be submitted via:

·         fax to VA’s Evidence Intake Center at (844) 531-7818
·         or mail to Evidence Intake Center at –
Department Of Veterans Affairs
Evidence Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Newnan, GA 30271-0020

APPEALS BACKLOG:  The appeals backlog is large. Regional Offices and the BVA are working those appeals based on the date they were received. I apologize for the long wait which I know can be frustrating. The Under Secretary has repeatedly requested additional resources from Congress to help VA work appeals more quickly.

EXPEDITING AN APPEAL:  However, please know that an appeal may be expedited for a veteran who is terminally ill, homeless or otherwise experiencing very serious hardship. If your husband is in one of those categories, he may request that his appeal be expedited based on such circumstances. To do so, submit that request in writing with documentation of the hardship to the VA regional office in St. Petersburg, FL. Documentation of severe financial hardship could include such things as copies of bankruptcy proceedings, eviction notice, past due bills, utility shut-off notices, etc. Submit the request and the supporting documentation via:

·         fax to VA’s Evidence Intake Center at (844) 531-7818
·         or mail to Evidence Intake Center at –
Department Of Veterans Affairs
Evidence Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Newnan, GA 30271-0020

 If your husband does not fall into one of the above categories, then his appeal will continue to be worked in date order. That means it may be a few months to many months to even more than a year before the next step in the appeal, which is the scheduling of the BVA videoconference hearing. Again, I apologize for the long wait – but I want to give you a realistic timeframe.

 CHECK STATUS OF APPEAL:  To check on the status of the appeal, please call 1 (800) 827-1000. Your husband’s representative, Disabled American Veterans, can also provide updates and assistance.

I hope that this information is helpful to you and your husband. As noted above, the next step in the appeals process will be the scheduling of the BVA videoconference hearing. Your husband will be notified in writing of the date and time of the hearing.

This waiting is expected. I grew up in the military. Everything was hurry up and wait. But this is absolutely ridiculous.

Let the “more waiting” ensue.

LadyJai

 

 

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