Mission United Success Story

JC was a Navy veteran from the late 1960’s. He suffered a back injury while he was in Navy basic training and was hospitalized for several days. Upon being released from the hospital, he was discharged from the Navy. Fast forward to about two years ago. He and I had become neighbors over 20 years ago. We both live on acreage and as next-door neighbors occasionally had conversations over the fence. We often discussed his medical issues as he has some severe ones related to his back. Over time the story came out about his active duty injury. At the same time, I was becoming more familiar with the VA healthcare system and the disability process.

About two years ago I began encouraging him to go to the VA and file a disability claim as his back injury was becoming even worse and had also resulted in having both hip joints replaced. All of this was done under his civilian insurance with hefty copays. At first, he did not even understand that he was eligible for any kind of disability rating from the government. Through several conversations he finally decided to give it a try. Under the pre 1980 rules even one day of active duty service qualifies him for the VA healthcare system. He was unaware of that. His first appointment was for his hearing, this was in November 2019. A month later he was shocked to receive his first VA disability check for his hearing loss of tinnitus which is a 10% VA disability and the beginning of a monthly payment for that disability.

At that time, he was working with a state Veterans Services Officer who was acting under his power of attorney. The first disability filing was denied as the VA could not verify his records even though he had provided all the records that were needed. The VA maintained they could not find the records even though they were in the system. The case dragged on as the VSO retired and never notified him. Once he was aware of this fact he again contacted a new state VSO who filed his appeal which had not been filed by the previous state VSO even though he was supposed to accomplish that. The irony is the appeal was in the system it just had not been filed. The results of that appeal were another denial. Again, even the VSO could not understand it. And then the new VSO retired.

Basically, at that point JC gave up. Although with encouragement he continued to pursue getting his healthcare more through the VA as his prescription copay costs were astronomical. I explained to him he was eligible for prescriptions through the VA as the copays are very reasonable as low as $5 for a generic 30-day supply. In July, I spotted a state VA telephonic event where veterans would be able to speak with state VSOs on their issues and try to get help to resolve them. This was a first-time event and you had to sign up to it. I sent him the link and he signed up. To make a long story short he now is scheduled to meet with a VA Appeals Officer over his case and it will be a zoom equivalent meeting.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”