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 Post subject: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Vetera
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 10:44 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:17 am
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Location: Topeka Kansas
Your Gulf War Unit: 4-5 FA Ft. Riley Kansas
Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Veteran

By James A. Bunker
President
National Gulf War Resource Center

I have been working with veterans all over this country of ours in their fight with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The one thing that stands out is this; the VA has many Regional Offices throughout the country, and few rate veterans’ disability claims in the same way. It does not matter if it is a claim for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Gulf War Illnesses (GWI), or something else. There seems little uniformity or standardization in the methods used to decide these claims from one region to another. This is not right! When all factors are identical in two different veteran claims, a veteran in one state will be approved for a 50% disability and the veteran in a different state is told that the disability is not related to their service. Where are the standards? Did these Rating Specialists (RS) not all get the same training? They all have to follow the same law; CFR 38. The VA has published a book that all of the RS’s are supposed to use in adjudicating claims. It is called the M21-1R. Yet despite these clear cut instructions, we see vast disparities from one VA region to another.

The problem as we see it is that RS’s are poorly trained and over-worked. Their daunting workload quite obviously has prevented many of them from remaining current on new protocols and training letters. They have to get through so many claims in a day and are not given the time for reading training letters or new instructions from headquarters. Perhaps it’s time for the VA to conduct a “Training Stand-Down”; much like the military conducts periodic Maintenance and Safety Stand-Downs in order to address ongoing organizational and safety deficiencies.

The VA can add all the new RS’s they want, but if these people are not properly trained in claims adjudication policies they will continue to make the same mistakes that have resulted in a huge backlog of appeals that the Board of Veterans Appeals is faced with in Washington, DC. The VA needs to do a better job of training the workers they have now. Then, as new RS’s are hired, they can get help from those who know the right methods to use in deciding a claim.

The cases I get the most upset about are the Gulf War Veterans (GWV) claims. I have been focusing on these types of claims for many years. These should be some of the easiest to work on given the clear-cut language contained in the laws concerning “presumptive” conditions for Persian Gulf War Veterans. Yet I see so many that are denied. A lot of the denials include the same language; the RS denying the claim because there is no proof that the medical problem started in the service. Had the RS read the law, he or she would have noticed that GWV’s have until 31 December, 2011 for the signs or symptoms to develop. In other words, the symptoms do not have to have started while the veteran was on active duty! It is clear that far too many RS do not understand what “presumptive” is all about when it comes to adjudicating claims by GWV’s. Perhaps we need to give them a checklist that will help them. In all claims there are two parts. The first is the hardest, and that is proving that the veteran’s illness is due to their service. The second part is determining to what degree the veteran is disabled, expressed by a percentage, 0%-100% disabled.

Here is my proposed RS checklist for GWI;

1. Was the veteran present in the theater of operations during the timeframe established for the Persian Gulf War? () Y () N

2. Does the veteran have an undiagnosed illness or one that is a medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness that is defined by a cluster of signs and symptoms or any diagnosed illness as outlined in VA regulations to a degree that warrants presumption of service connection?
() Y () N

If the RS marks yes to both of these questions, then the veteran’s disability is to be considered service connected (SC) under Section 1117 Undiagnosed Illnesses due to service in Southwest Asia. All that remains is a determination as to the percentage of disability.

For some of us, mostly men, admitting they are sick can be problematic. The common thing for us veterans to do is to “tough it out” and down-play how bad it really is. A veteran needs to tell their doctor the truth about how bad it hurts and how they have a hard time working. Be truthful at all times.

The last part of my complaint about getting GWV’s service-connected is the VA’s outdated computer check-in system. A GWV may have 4-6 problems but is only able to have one listed for their check-in. Then, when the RS looks over the veteran’s file he/she does not see all of the problems that the veteran has because the VA’s computer system cannot handle it. This will affect the claim in terms of the percentage of disability they are awarded. The veteran must ensure that the examining physician at the VA adds all complaints to the comment area. If the physician refuses to do so, the veteran should go to the VA’s ER for the other problems. Also, have someone keep track of when you are ill and how bad it gets.

The last thing I would like to talk about is Veterans Service Officers (VSO’s). There are some good ones and some bad ones. A veteran should not pay pay too much attention to who the VSO works for (DAV, American Legion, VFW, etc.) because it does not matter. The important thing is how well the individual VSO is versed in the laws concerning PGW veterans. The veteran needs to talk to the other veterans in their area. Having a good VSO involved with the claim will make a lot of difference in the outcome.

Finally if the veteran has a scar, and the VSO wants to file it under section 1117, the veteran should get a new VSO. Scars should never be filed as an undiagnosed illness. There is a nexus for the scar to your service. When your VSO files it as an undiagnosed illness he is causing a delay in getting the veterans claim approved.


James A. Bunker
President
National Gulf War Resource Center
2611 SW 17th Street Suite 1 B
Topeka, KS 66604
785-221-0162
Toll free 866-531-7183
WWW.NGWRC.ORG
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_________________
James A. Bunker
Executive Director
National Gulf War Resource Center
2611 SW 17th Street
Topeka, KS 66604
785-221-0162
Toll free 866-531-7183
WWW.NGWRC.ORG


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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Vetera
PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:26 am 
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Lifer
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Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 8:41 am
Posts: 874
Location: Missouri
Your Gulf War Unit: 3rd Bn 17th Field Artillery
Quote:
A veteran needs to tell their doctor the truth about how bad it hurts and how they have a hard time working.


The doctors don't listen! I have had more than 200 appointments since Oct 2005 and have get less than 15 minutes with the doctors ... how can they understand in such a short time?

The doctors are rigidly embedded in their structured world and cannot/will not move outside of their linear thought process.

I do not trust the doctors or the hospitals or the VA as a whole. They are in it for themselves and do not give a rats ass about the veterans!

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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Vetera
PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:13 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:53 pm
Posts: 418
Location: ky,
Your Gulf War Unit: 72nd. ENGR. CO. 197TH INF. BDE. 24TH INF
when i went for my gulf war exam, the doc said that "there"s nothing wrong with you, i think it was about 20 mins vist, no longer than 30 mins topps. that exam was a joke :evil: my kids get a better exam for school, than they gave me.the VA is pretty screwed up system. its been several yrs. since i"ve had the exam though it might be diff now. it could"nt be any worse( i don"t think ).

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197th. INF. BDE(m)(s)
24th. INF.DIV
18th AIRBORNE CORPS
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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Vetera
PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:35 pm 
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Good Soldiers Never Die
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Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:36 pm
Posts: 1009
Location: North Carolina
Your Gulf War Unit: 24th Infantry Division, 197th Infantry Brigage, 72 Engr Co.
I think the docs @ that time they started the Gulf war physicals believed it to be BS. So, they treated us as such.

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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Vetera
PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:10 pm 
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Senior Vet

Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:53 pm
Posts: 418
Location: ky,
Your Gulf War Unit: 72nd. ENGR. CO. 197TH INF. BDE. 24TH INF
ya it was pretty much a joke at that time. wonder if its any better now...don"t know if we could retry or not .

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197th. INF. BDE(m)(s)
24th. INF.DIV
18th AIRBORNE CORPS
SAPPERS FORWARD!


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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Vetera
PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:41 am 
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Lifer
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Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 8:41 am
Posts: 874
Location: Missouri
Your Gulf War Unit: 3rd Bn 17th Field Artillery
It aint any better. I have been fighting to get a complete gulf war physical for almost 5 years. I got the phase I physical in 97. I waited until 2005 to see the VA again because I was so fed up with the first phase.

In 2005 I started demanding the Phase II and to date still haven't gotten it. The VA has an established protocol to follow, but they won't. I'm so frustrated with their attitude about undiagnosable stuff.

The last word I had with my Primary Care physician was that I am not in as much pain as I think I am and they can do nothing for me until technology catches up ... we'll see you again in a year. "If don't like this and want to change primary care providers I'll support your request".

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210th FA Bde
DS (OPCON) 3/2 ACR, GS 1 ID
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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Vetera
PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:50 am 
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Senior Vet

Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:53 pm
Posts: 418
Location: ky,
Your Gulf War Unit: 72nd. ENGR. CO. 197TH INF. BDE. 24TH INF
sounds like they"re giving you the run around Top. i go to a va clinic in my town, its pretty good as far as just plain doctrin goes. but you have to go to the va hospital for any thing major.
they just got a theripst (i can"t spell) at the clinic recently, thinkin of stopping to talk to them, but i"m not to do at opening up to anybody.
va ,like the rest of the gov. has got alot of b.s red tape.
they"re rating sucks, i know a guy thats drawing 100% now.... he says its over his back, he does more lifting, driving than most people .....i"m not putting him down or nobody like him . but there"s some vets that are worse off an get nuttin....wish somebody could explain that . it might be that hospitas, doc, and who helped out filing the claim. dunno.

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197th. INF. BDE(m)(s)
24th. INF.DIV
18th AIRBORNE CORPS
SAPPERS FORWARD!


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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Vetera
PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:18 am 
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Lifer
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Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 8:41 am
Posts: 874
Location: Missouri
Your Gulf War Unit: 3rd Bn 17th Field Artillery
I wouldn't call it the a run-a-round as much as I would disbelief that anything is wrong with me. Some docs give me the impression they think I am making shit up, others think I think I am ill so therefore I am ill, others think something is wrong but they don't know what, and others just don't care or just don't want to get wrapped up in something they don't understand.

I try to give each of them the benefit of the doubt, but it don't help me medically.

Just wait for something to break with new technology ... that's the best I can do right now ... I suppose.

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3rd Bn 17th Field Artillery
210th FA Bde
DS (OPCON) 3/2 ACR, GS 1 ID
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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Ve
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:36 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:56 pm
Posts: 4
Your Gulf War Unit: 4404th(P) bomb wing
I have been using the VA system for all my medical issues. I Feel the same about what most are saying and find myself repeating things over and over again. Yet when i get the medical records that are recorded by the PA half of what we talked about have not been put into record. I have repeatedly told them I have problems with a recurring gastro problem (at least twice a month) that cycles and doesn't stop. Most of the time I find the PA is passing it off on the medication they are feeding me. At present I have begun getting serious, what seems like muscle strain, in the base of my skull into my neck which creates headaches or a spaced out feeling. I am currently awaiting a trip to the WRIISC center in New Jersey and am looking forward to having them answer why I can't get some of the medical issues resolved instead of just another feel good pill. I do plan on letting them have it when i get there with all the things i am currently concerned about.
I have had spots that on my skin or lumps start showing up but can't get someone to really look into the problem. I hope I can get some of the questions and problems answered.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Ve
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:19 am 
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Senior Vet

Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:53 pm
Posts: 418
Location: ky,
Your Gulf War Unit: 72nd. ENGR. CO. 197TH INF. BDE. 24TH INF
welcome brother,
good luck, an let us know how it goes. when i went to the c&p clinic for my eval of ptsd, the shrink was the first real va related doc that really seemed to care, and listened. i know its his job, but it still made me feel good. i told him that i'd appericated him listening.

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72nd. ENGR. CO.
197th. INF. BDE(m)(s)
24th. INF.DIV
18th AIRBORNE CORPS
SAPPERS FORWARD!


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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Ve
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:13 pm 
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Recruit
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Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:17 am
Posts: 27
Location: Topeka Kansas
Your Gulf War Unit: 4-5 FA Ft. Riley Kansas
the ngwrc new letter coming out monday will have an article an the new persumptive that will cover you problem of your gastro problem.


good luck at the WRIISC I was there in December of 2010

usafretired94 wrote:
I have been using the VA system for all my medical issues. I Feel the same about what most are saying and find myself repeating things over and over again. Yet when i get the medical records that are recorded by the PA half of what we talked about have not been put into record. I have repeatedly told them I have problems with a recurring gastro problem (at least twice a month) that cycles and doesn't stop. Most of the time I find the PA is passing it off on the medication they are feeding me. At present I have begun getting serious, what seems like muscle strain, in the base of my skull into my neck which creates headaches or a spaced out feeling. I am currently awaiting a trip to the WRIISC center in New Jersey and am looking forward to having them answer why I can't get some of the medical issues resolved instead of just another feel good pill. I do plan on letting them have it when i get there with all the things i am currently concerned about.
I have had spots that on my skin or lumps start showing up but can't get someone to really look into the problem. I hope I can get some of the questions and problems answered.

_________________
James A. Bunker
Executive Director
National Gulf War Resource Center
2611 SW 17th Street
Topeka, KS 66604
785-221-0162
Toll free 866-531-7183
WWW.NGWRC.ORG


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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Ve
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:39 am 
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Recruit
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Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:51 pm
Posts: 42
Your Gulf War Unit: HHC 1st Engineers 1st Infantry
usafretired94 wrote:
I have been using the VA system for all my medical issues. I Feel the same about what most are saying and find myself repeating things over and over again. Yet when i get the medical records that are recorded by the PA half of what we talked about have not been put into record. I have repeatedly told them I have problems with a recurring gastro problem (at least twice a month) that cycles and doesn't stop. Most of the time I find the PA is passing it off on the medication they are feeding me. At present I have begun getting serious, what seems like muscle strain, in the base of my skull into my neck which creates headaches or a spaced out feeling. I am currently awaiting a trip to the WRIISC center in New Jersey and am looking forward to having them answer why I can't get some of the medical issues resolved instead of just another feel good pill. I do plan on letting them have it when i get there with all the things i am currently concerned about.
I have had spots that on my skin or lumps start showing up but can't get someone to really look into the problem. I hope I can get some of the questions and problems answered.


I have the same problem with my primary when it comes to my gastro problem. I was given something for acid reflux and nothing else for the gas, bloating. As far as my skin rash its spreading through out the chest along the elbows and was given a foot lotion for it. Thanks for bringing up the lumps, I would've nevered mention them before. I currently developed a new on my left wrist, have one above my right wrist and elbow. Good luck with your VA fight...


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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Ve
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:01 am 
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Recruit
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Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:17 am
Posts: 27
Location: Topeka Kansas
Your Gulf War Unit: 4-5 FA Ft. Riley Kansas
I have been working to get vets like you to write out what is going on and how it kept you from getting your claim done right. We are working to use them to try and change the laws on training; but we will also help by after proofing them, we will give you an email address to send them to where it will help you.

It has been working for other veterans that I have done this for.

haze wrote:
when i went for my gulf war exam, the doc said that "there"s nothing wrong with you, i think it was about 20 mins vist, no longer than 30 mins topps. that exam was a joke :evil: my kids get a better exam for school, than they gave me.the VA is pretty screwed up system. its been several yrs. since i"ve had the exam though it might be diff now. it could"nt be any worse( i don"t think ).

_________________
James A. Bunker
Executive Director
National Gulf War Resource Center
2611 SW 17th Street
Topeka, KS 66604
785-221-0162
Toll free 866-531-7183
WWW.NGWRC.ORG


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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Ve
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:37 pm 
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Good Soldiers Never Die
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:35 pm
Posts: 1899
Location: Central Florida
Your Gulf War Unit: 2nd Brigade 1st Infantry Division
James, where can I find the best and most up to date list of presumptives for Gulf War vets? I have looked around and found updates but no complete list so far. The closest I have found is this:

http://www.veteranprograms.com/id1099.html

Out of the 12 listed for our time period, only 6 are hyperlinked to show further clarification. Are the non hyperlinked 6 also considered Presumptive?

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 Post subject: Re: Advice for the VA and advice for the Persian Gulf War Ve
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:06 am 
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Recruit

Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:42 am
Posts: 1
Your Gulf War Unit: SVC Battery 2/17th FA, 24th Mechanized Infantry Division
I see that a lot of folks keep coming up with lumps or cyst in their bodies. I had one removed from my back and one just popped up in my right forearm. I believe these things are called Lipomas and are something a lot of Gulf War Vets are having, look em up.


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