Wednesday, March 21, 2018

National Vietnam War Veterans Day March 29

Our National Day

March 29 is National Vietnam War Veterans Day that President Trump signed into law from the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017.

I don't know how most of us Nam veterans survived in the years after the war. I was told to get back to El Toro Marine Base with the "rest of the animals" by the California Highway Patrol because I was trying to hitch a ride on a freeway ramp because we hadn't been paid and we had no money. They gave me a ticket. I tore it up.

I was spit on at LAX by war protesters from Berkeley and other Communist preaching schools, who were also giving blood to the North Vietnamese and calling us baby killers. We were under strict orders not to react while in the Marine Corps uniform. That was hard to do.

I came home alone late at night. My parents didn't have a car. No one greeted us. We were jerked out of the war and thrust back into civilian life without any time to adjust. I took a cab home. The driver had a brother in Vietnam so at least he understood.

I went downtown with my mother in uniform, and people crossed the street to avoid us. My Italian mother was angry about that. The war helped to kill her at a young age. My sister told me she cried every night I was gone. Once a military car stopped at the house and they came to our door. She thought I had been killed and lost it. Turns out they were looking for the guy next door who had gone AWOL and they got the wrong house.

I went to the American Legion with my father, a WW2 Navy vet. He introduced me as a Marine Nam vet. The Legion Members said: "Oh, we were in a real war not some police action."

My father grabbed my arm and we left, and he never went back. That's how we were treated back then. The Legion, VFW...none of them wanted us. When the WW2 guys started dying...then they wanted us, but it was too late. Most of us were bitter at the way we had been treated.

A few weeks after I came home my friend John Englert called me and told his brother Jimmy had been killed. At the funeral, his mother screamed at me because I had survived and Jimmy didn't. I could understand why she did that because of her agony, but it still made me angry. Everyone except our families seemed to been against us.

The VA back then would treat any veteran for anything, but I had to wait sometimes for six hours to see a doctor. We had to sit in the hall on the floor next to bodies on gurneys. They never had chairs back then. The doctors were medical students who probably knew about as much as we did about medicine. It was not a positive experience at all. I stayed away from the VA for a long time. They didn't have time to deal with Nam veterans.

I don't know how many of us are left, but those Nam veterans I know have been some of my best friends over the years. I truly believe we were and are the true last knights in shining armor because we answered the call without question and signed away our lives to defend our country at a time when we would have everyone against us. Our lives were forever changed. For a long time we were just considered to be psycho killers...for no reason other than we fought for our country when millions of others wouldn't.

I'm glad that perception is changing, but still when I hear someone called a hero today just because they graduated from boot camp, it makes me cringe. I can't help it. It's all about the way we were treated. For Nam vets, that will probably never change

Friday, December 22, 2017

PTSD Years Later: Stopping Therapy (Or Taking A Break)

My question is this. 

I am 100% P&T for PTSD. I have been in therapy for 16 years with no real cure. I am fed up with therapy and want to stop. Will the VA reduce me if I stop therapy?  Yes I am P&T with no future exams scheduled. I have Champ VA for my wife and children and education benefits for them. I have been 100% for 9 years. I know that 20 years at 100% they can’t reduce me unless fraud is involved. But if for some reason I am called in for a review.....can they reduce me because I stopped treatment (therapy). 


I stopped direct therapy about five years after my T&P rating. I had gone to therapy almost five years before I was service-connected for PTSD. I went back years later for the 12 week PTSD session outpatient. 

Like all the rest of it, it never did me any good. If you have been in group or individual for 16 years, they can’t say you are not accepting treatment. Tell them it’s not doing any good. They know there is no cure. Then just don’t make any appointments and tell them you want to take a break. Sometimes therapy can make you feel worse after a session than you did before a session. That’s why I stopped, and one time my therapist fell asleep so I said screw this. They can’t cut you, and if you are P&T with no future exams, they are not going to mess with you. Don’t worry about getting cut.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Working While Rated Unemployable

Marginal Employment 

Some veterans will argue that when you have reached unemployable status, you are supposed to stay at home and sit in your house, or spend all your time at the VA. They are terrified of doing anything that could be remotely related to work, but the Code of Federal Regulations does not require a veteran to stop functioning.

  4.17 Total disability ratings for pension based on unemployability.

All veterans who are basically eligible and who are unable to secure and follow a substantially gainful occupation by reason of disabilities which are likely to be permanent shall be rated as permanently and totally disabled. For the purpose of pension, the permanence of the percentage requirements of 4.16 is a requisite. (One disability at 60% or above, or a 70% combination of  two or more, with one being at least 40%.)   

When the percentage requirements are met, and the disabilities involved are of a permanent nature, a rating of permanent and total disability will be assigned if the veteran is found to be unable to secure and follow substantially gainful employment by reason of such disability. Prior employment or  unemployment status is immaterial if in the judgment of the rating board the veteran's disabilities render him or her unemployable. In making such determinations, the following guidelines will be used:

(a) Marginal employment, for example, as a self-employed farmer or other person, while employed in his or her own business, or at odd jobs or while employed at less than half the usual remuneration will not be considered incompatible with a determination of unemployability, if the restriction, as to securing or retaining better employment, is due to disability.

(from 4.16) Marginal employment shall not be considered substantially gainful employment. For purposes of this section, marginal employment generally shall be deemed to exist when a veteran's earned annual income does not exceed the amount established by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, as the poverty threshold for one person. Marginal employment may also be held to exist, on a facts found basis (includes but is not limited to employment in a protected environment such as a family business or sheltered workshop), when earned annual income exceeds the poverty threshold. Consideration shall be given in all claims to the nature of the employment and the reason for termination.

 (b) Claims of all veterans who fail to meet the percentage standards but who meet the basic entitlement criteria and are unemployable, will be referred by the rating board to the Adjudication Officer .

  What all this means is that you don’t have to stop trying to earn some money when you are considered unemployable. The VA will, according to a letter I received a few weeks ago, check Social Security and IRS records on you each year  when you are rated unemployable, even if self-employed. So, in theory, if you work a job involving taxes you will be hassled, if you make a ton of money. (The law doesn’t provide much incentive to improve yourself  if  you are declared unemployable.)

  In part b above, the law states that you can file for  unemployability at any percentage if you can’t work based on a service-connected condition. The VA and probably the service organizations will frown on this, but it is your  right to file for unemployability if you can’t work. Don’t ley anyone tell you that you can’t file. It is the law.

(From the S-2 Report Newsletter)