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The experiences of post-9/11 veterans differ from
those who served in previous eras. Post-9/11
veterans more likely to have been deployed,
seen combat, experienced emotional trauma
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What you won't find here is unending chat or opinions from strangers who like to think of themselves as experts.
Our goal is to ensure that you are awarded the benefits you earned with your service to our country.
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Hey Jim, I'm a Vietnam veteran who had boots on the ground...two tours. I came home, got busy and didn't look back. I didn't know that VA existed most of my life but now I have prostate cancer and heart disease, both of those are presumptive conditions to agent orange exposure...I get most of that. But since I didn't know about VA I've existed with these conditions since 2002 and I've had treatments in the civilian sector...I'm fortunate enough to have health insurance through my job at a local business where I worked a long time. I've started filing the claims with a local VSO but I'm being told there won't be any back pay since I didn't know enough to file when my disease was diagnosed. This is bullshit, VA never told me about anything like agent orange or filing claims. I'm sick because of my service and I need help!
I understand all too well. Many of us had no clue that there was a VA and often enough we heard horror stories (true or not) that kept us away. I didn't understand how it worked back then and missed opportunities to appeal and file incidental claims so it took me years and years longer than it should have to recover the benefits I earned. I learned that the effective date of a claim is the day we file unless there are extraordinary circumstances and there are never extraordinary circumstances. VA will tell us that they publish far more information publicly than most federal organizations and that you have to do your part and take it in. Ultimately this is one of those things you may want to let go. Your effective date, the day benefits and all associated timing begins will be the date you filed, not a minute before.
We receive many questions about divorce, child support obligations, and so on. The answers never differ.
Jim, I'm really pissed off at the VA examiner who performed my C & P exam yesterday. She didn't look at the records I brought, she didn't examine my arm like I asked and I was in and out of the room in 10 minutes. I want to file a complaint and I want to see the report she made before my claim goes any further. This isn't fair.
The worst thing we can do is to interrupt the process. The process of filing a claim is simple. You submit a form and any evidence you have. Your form is entered into the system and you are scheduled for an exam. After the exam that report goes back to your folder and eventually is in front of a rater. A decision is made and you're informed. If you disagree with the decision, you file a NOD and you're off to the races for an appeal. If you choose to interrupt the process, the train comes off the tracks. When you complain about the examiner (and almost everyone does) VA has to halt any progress on your claim while they investigate. The investigation, such as it may be, will always lead to you having another C & P exam where you'll be known as a hostile and complaining person. You get the idea, all this takes time and adds steps that are prone to mistakes. Get the C & P done and suck it up and keep quiet. If you don't like your decision, appeal. If you do like your decision (surprise!) you're done. Be careful what you ask for...
Hey Jim, My disabled veteran boyfriend (girlfriend, son, daughter, cousin, neighbor, et al) has been arrested and jailed because of a false accusation that s/he had a gun and tried to rob some people. That isn't at all what happened but the police here don't like veterans and he's being framed. He needs a lawyer who will fight for his freedom and justice. He doesn't have any money since he is just out of the rehab program so he needs a lawyer who will be able to help a disabled veteran for free.
Once we leave active duty and become veterans, we soon morph into the creatures called civilians. As civilians we have all the rights and obligations of any citizen...we can get in trouble and then we can work really hard to get ourselves out of the trouble we got into. Nobody much cares that you're a veteran when you break the law. The handcuffs and jail will come first and any consideration to your past may come much later. Criminal defense lawyers don't work for free just because you're a vet. If you have problems with VA there may be free or less expensive help available for you. If you go and get yourself arrested and brought up on serious charges, you'll find out the definition of lonely PDQ. You're on your own.
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Military Sisterhood Initiative to go live February 18
A social platform to build peer
support community for women Veterans
Craig Bash M.D., MBA
The Veterans Medical Advisor
If you are an honorably discharged veteran, you served your
country well and you earned certain benefits. Sad to say, sometimes
it can be difficult for the veteran to obtain the earned benefits
guaranteed by law. Veterans need a recognized medical expert who
knows the VA system. As a disabled veteran himself and a respected,
board certified physician, Dr. Bash fits the need—and adds even further
insight as a VA-accredited service organization representative.
Call 925-381-7561 Email email@example.com
Jim...my treacherous, drug addicted, philandering, worthless, alcoholic, cheating, lying, violent, fat, stupid ex-wife/husband
is a 100% disabled veteran who is 8 months behind on child support for the 6 kids we have together. She/he tells me there isn't a
damn thing I can do about it since the VA disability money is protected for use only by the veteran and can't be garnished.
What can I do?
You can seek an apportionment. An apportionment is pretty much the same thing as a garnishment of wages but the apportionment is administered by the VA. You can learn how to file an apportionment here.
Hey Jim, I went to a fairly routine check-up appointment a couple weeks ago and I was shocked and awed when my primary care provider told me that when they drug screened me that marijuana was detected. I didn't really know what to say and since she didn't have any more to say about it we finished up and I left. I've thought it over since then and I believe my rights have been violated since I wasn't told I'd be drug screened. What business is it of the VA to know whether I use drugs or not?
Most Americans would agree that the results of a drug screen may be somewhat disruptive if those results were to be broadcast to others. You might not want your friends or employer to know, for example. But most would agree that there's a real drug problem in America that needs to be treated...not prosecuted but treated as a health care problem. How do we learn our own health care status? Often enough, lab work to show the status of our kidneys, liver, pancreas and drug intake. WHOA...treat drug abuse like the disease it is and the issue gets complex. While I understand your angst, I support drug screening for every adult as a part of their routine health care.
Jim...I'm getting a divorce from my treacherous, drug addicted, philandering, worthless, alcoholic, cheating, lying, violent, fat, stupid wife/husband. I'm a 100% disabled veteran and I've told him/her that she can't touch my disability pay since I earned that and it's all I have to live on. He/she wants me to pay support for the 6 kids we have together and I've explained that I don't have to do that because my VA money is mine, all mine. Help me convince this low life piece of trash I mistakenly married that since I'm a veteran I owe him/her not a damn thing.
Veterans disability pay is meant to replace income that the veteran would otherwise be capable of earning except for the service connected disabling conditions. Every family court will consider VA disability pay to be income and the money must be factored in to any child support or alimony decisions. You can learn a lot more about divorce and the obligations that may come with divorce here.
Hey Jim, I bought a house almost 2 years ago and I used my VA loan certificate. I've since learned things about the house that I didn't know then and it looks like it may cost me a lot of money to have repairs and upgrades done to get it turned into the house I thought I was buying. The realtor who sold me the home isn't in business any longer so I'm not sure what to do? How do I get some help?
I'm not sure what you're looking for? When we buy a home one of the first rules is that it is up to us to do our own due diligence. We can't trust home inspectors or realtors to be 100% invested in our security, that's our job. Unless you can prove some sort of fraud took place and get a local real estate lawyer interested, any future repairs are very likely on you. Yeah, it's frustrating to have to shell out big money unexpectedly, but yeah...it's a part of home ownership you have to prepare for...it happens.
VA Releases Survivors Quick Start Guide
Reference guide to help during final
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Frequently Asked Questions
These are the most frequently asked questions I've received over the years.
I won't try to rank them in any particular order although it's easy to say that questions about divorce and how VA disability money may be accounted for by the family court are always at the top of the pile.
Other than that, I'll publish them randomly as we go along. Most will be presented as generic amalgams of the hundreds of times I've been asked something similar. Others I'll publish just as they come to me, misspellings, half-truths and rants.
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Urgent Care Centers
One of the most important benefits you have today is
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Need Help Filing A Claim?
How to file a VA disability claim
Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation
or increased disability compensation.
Your 2020 Guide to Social Security Benefits
Whether you’re claiming Social Security in 2020, have been collecting benefits for years, or are still decades away, here’s what you need to know about this critically important retirement program.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
announced the launch of an online patient portal
this month that will provide service veterans
with digital access to their patient statements.
Jim Strickland is a Vietnam era Army veteran and nationally recognized expert on VA disability benefits
You can browse all of these Q&As here, and search the Jim's Mailbag archives for helpful answers.
C&P Service Clinician’s Guide
Scheduled For A C & P??? Filing A Claim?
This is a must read for you!!!
I've been posting this again and again over the years
and it's still one of the best ways I know to win
your case. Published in 2002 the principles and much of
the verbiage still applies and is in daily use at the VA.
Download VA benefit letters
To receive some benefits, Veterans need a letter
proving their status.
For Better Brain Health, Preserve Your Hearing
Hearing loss is the largest modifiable risk factor for developing dementia, exceeding that of smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and social isolation.
Can you help me with....
Family Medical Leave Act problems after husband's deployment
Vet being harassed at work
VA doctor malpractice
Child support arrears create hardship
68 year old veteran with cancer
When did the Vietnam era start
Radiation treatment for prostate cancer and now C& P exam
Diabetes claim secondary to OSA
Revisiting child support order
Gulf War veteran behavior found to be willful misconduct
All these and many more answers to your questions can be found at
A diagnosis does so much more than get noted in your medical history. It also can help you apply for programs like Social Security Disability and medical marijuana cards. And maybe even more importantly, it can help you explain yourself to friends, colleagues and family.
Did you know that hearing loss and tinnitus are the
most commonly rated veterans disabilities? Did you
know that hearing loss and tinnitus can cause
other secondary conditions, particularly mental
health problems like depression and loneliness?
Misuse of Certain Nonopioid Analgesics on the Rise
Gabapentin, Baclofen May Be Seen
as Opioid Alternatives
Medical Marijuana Card
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Chronic Pain Is an Impossible Problem
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Has VA medical care caused you an injury or other harm?
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How To File a VA Disability Appeal
You have the right to appeal any benefits decision made by the Veterans Benefits Administration. The VA appeals process is set in law and is different from other judicial appeals processes. Find out how to file an appeal.
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Hey Jim, My hearing sucks. I'm hardly 40 years old and after 2 OEF/OIF tours I have ringing in my ears that makes me crazy and as if that isn't bad enough I can't hear hardly anything people say to me. It makes my work really hard to deal with and I'm afraid I could lose my job. I filed a claim a year ago with a local VSO (who left soon after) and after a quick exam and hearing test I've finally gotten a letter that tells me I have been rated as 0% service connected for hearing loss and 10% for tinnitus. Oh...I got hearing aids that aren't really doing much. The ratings seem low, do you agree? I'm having a helluva time and don't know what I should do?
I hear you brother... Ouch, sorry. I guess the problem is we don't hear each other very well. The number one claims and ratings at VA are for hearing loss and tinnitus. Whether we serve in active combat or not, the job calls for us to be exposed to a lot of noise...acoustic trauma. In my years of advocating for veterans I've witnessed the most absurd denials for hearing loss and tinnitus that you can imagine. My own father was denied his claim for hearing loss. He served on Iwo Jima and in Korea retiring as an E-9 after 20. His specialty...ordnance. VA denied his hearing claim because there was no record of his serving in combat. The Purple Hearts he was awarded apparently didn't count. I tell you that to let you know what you're dealing with and that you need some expert help. You need to appeal and you may want to retain a lawyer for that. You need to consider secondary conditions that are being caused, contributed to or aggravated by the hearing loss and tinnitus. You'l want to think about whether or not hearing loss is causing you to be depressed or become housebound and if so, get a mental heath IMO.