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Your VA Claim
If you haven't figured it out by now,
it's time to realize you're involved in a giant paper shuffle
and this IS NOT a spectator sport.
Put down your gun
and pick up your keyboard.
The battlefield has changed.

Jim's Mailbag

Dear Jim: I thought that you may be interested in this story about a veteran

who has been denied pain medicines by his VA doctor. I'm in a similar

situation. I've been treated with narcotic medicines for nearly 15 years

for my service connected chronic pain syndromes...the result of

an IED breaking a lot of my bones. We're being told that the VA isn't

allowing veterans to have narcotic medications for any number of

reasons, none of which make sense to me. If my VA doctor won't prescribe

my pain medicines for me, does this mean I have to find a civilian doctor

who can help me with maintaining control of my pain?

Can you tell me what my options are please? Thanks.

Reply: In the article you forwarded to me, there's a small error. The claim

that Congress passed "a new law to crack down on dangerous prescribing

habits at VA hospitals across the country" is a bit misleading. There are

new laws, rules and regulations about how doctors may prescribe narcotics

aimed at all doctors, not only VA doctors. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

is behind the stricter enforcement of prescribing narcotics and all doctors

are forced to comply since the DEA issues (and sometimes cancels) the

doctors license to prescribe narcotic medications. Trying to get your narcotics from

a civilian doctor won't work, the civilian is being required to adapt to

a new way of prescribing narcotics along with VA doctors.

This is the newest front where the DEA is conducting its "war on drugs". The

patterns of abuse of prescribed narcotic drugs have led the DEA to believe that

massive restrictions on the availability of drugs like Vicodin, demerol, Xanax,

Percocets and any of dozens of other narcotics is the only answer to

this drug abuse problem that plagues many parts of our country.

VA isn't doing a very good job of explaining this to patients. The veteran

who has been receiving his Vicodin regularly in the mail for the last 6 or 8 years

is suddenly told he can't get a refill unless he sees his doctor first. He makes an

appointment to see his provider 3 weeks in the future and by then, he's

out of his pain medicines. Once he finally gets in to see his PCP, he

may be given a refill and told that he'll have to make another appointment

for the next refill and so it goes. Without the facts, the veteran patient may

try to get his pain medicine prescription renewed elsewhere.

But here's the catch; As soon as you ask for a pain prescription,

you're labeled as one who "exhibits drug seeking behavior". Once you

have that label pinned to your records, many providers won't even talk with

you about narcotic medicines. You may get a small prescription for pain

after surgery or extensive dental work but the long term uses are

a thing of the past. Long term pain medicines are ancient history.

So, what's a veteran who uses pain medicine on a regular basis to do?

First up, talk with your provider openly and honestly. Ask what your future

of receiving pain medicines looks like. If your provider is honest with you,

he or she will tell you it's time to consider alternatives.

Keep in mind that this isn't a VA program, it's a DEA push to lower the

morbidity and mortality associated with prescription drug abuse. Getting

pissed off at your VA doctor won't help. If you want to complain,

complain to your local office of the Drug Enforcement Agency. I'd bet

good money they would be happy to hear from you.

Finally, educate yourself about how this will affect you.

Here are a few links to articles I think will tell you what you need to know.

CDC Issues New Guidelines for Prescribing Opioid Painkillers

New rules on narcotic painkillers cause grief for veterans and VA

New DEA rule affects pain medicine prescriptions: What you need to know

DEA's Diversion Control Division

VA Benefits for Sleep Apnea as a service connection to PTSD
Brett Valette, Ph.D.

Sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea have been denied service connection
by the VA

for decades. Still today, veterans continue to get denied for service connected sleep apnea.

Part of the reason is not the VA’s fault. The reality of medicine is that new research is

being completed and now there are more discoveries about how our bodies

work and how an injury or illness impacts another biological ‘operating system.’

We now know PTSD, or Trauma Stressors, severely impact our bodies, not just our

PTSD creates a hyper arousal of the sympathetic nervous system: the flight or fight

response. This daily stress upsets and impacts human biology, even on a cellular level.

Research is further discovering PTSD stress has a link to cardiovascular
disease, diabetes,

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), hypertension and sleep apnea.Even with this, veterans are

still getting denied for service connected sleep apnea as a secondary condition to PTSD.

This is because doctors - both VA and civilian- quote outdated literature or research.

Many doctors do not keep up with the newest scientific findings. Some even quote ‘non-scholarly’

self help articles. Then in a clinical opinion to the VA it is stated, “nothing in the medical

literature supports a link between PTSD and sleep apnea.” This is incorrect,

but the VA has denied veteran benefits based on this clinical error.

Now the good news!
With a clinically strong Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) the VA

is granting service connection of sleep apnea to PTSD. There is VA case law showing

the VA awarding service connection forsleep apnea secondary to PTSD.

Even for Vietnam Vets.

The window is now wide open for veterans to get the benefits they

even if they have been denied in the past.

If a veteran has a sleep apnea diagnosis and a PTSD or Trauma related
diagnosis, I’d like to

help with the claim. An interested veteran can go to my webpage and fill out the

“Contact Us Now”form. I will be in touch and see how I can be of help in the case.

/s/ Brett Valette, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Major Privacy Breach at Virginia VA Hospital
By Glen Sturtevant

The news broke late Friday that a former employee at a VA hospital in Virginia was
found to have been hording "20 to 30 boxes" containing a large number of veterans' medical
records, benefits applications, and other claims in a rented storage unit. It appears that
these documents span about a five-year period from 2011 to 2015.
The former employee, who was fired in August 2015, had been employed by the
Virginia Department of Veterans Services and worked at the

Veterans Benefits Office at the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond.
Why on earth the former employee was doing this and whether this means that
some veterans' applications for disability benefits and claims against the VA for
medical malpractice were lost, misplaced, or delayed remains to be seen. The extent
to which the private personal information of these veterans and their family

members has been compromised also is unclear at this early stage, but one
would reasonably expect that there could be significant
legal consequences for those involved.

Continue Reading This Article

Dr. Brett Valette provides Military Veterans with psychological

Independent Medical Evaluation, Independent Medical Opinions,

Nexus Letters and Ratings Reviews. For more information visit

Contact VAWatchdog

Email Jim Strickland


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VA Form 21-0966 - Intent To File A Claim

VA Form 21-526EZ -  File A Claim

Disability Service Connection

Secondary Service Connection-Increased

Disability Compensation-Temporary

Total Disability Rating -

 Individual Unemployability -

Compensation under 38 U.S.C. 1151 -

 Special Monthly Compensation -

Specially Adapted Housing/Special

Home Adaptation Automobile 

Allowance/Adaptive Equipment -

Benefits Based on a Veteran's

Seriously Disabled Child

VA Form 21-0958 - NOD

​Notice of Disagreement

The first step to appeal

VA Form 21-534 EZ

Application for DIC, Death Pension

Change of Address

TDIU Annual - VA Form 4140

VA form 21-686c

Declaration of Status of Dependents

DAVIS Relief Carvings

Custom carvings by a veteran.

I do military themes, sports logos,

business logos, Bible boxes,

occasional canes and much more.

These make great gifts!

(I ordered the Big Red One you see above

as a gift.  First class work and service!)

/s/ Jim Strickland

Speak With A

Veterans Law Attorney

An Expert Physician

or a


Clinical Psychologist


Case Evaluations Are

Always Free!


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Military Veterans News & Benefits Information 

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Since 2005 This Is The Site VA Reads When They

Want To Learn What They've Been Doing

Welcome Aboard!

Alleged toxic condition at Providence VA blamed for health problems

A federal lawsuit filed by a Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center doctor alleges

“unsanitary and harmful” conditions that included mold, mice and toxic fumes in the

hospital left him permanently injured, and allegedly put doctors, technicians and patients in danger.

Military family: Enlistment bonus fiasco 'depleted our savings'

Master Sgt. Susan Haley's family is the epitome of military sacrifice. She's a 24-year

veteran. Her husband served for 26 years. Their son lost his leg serving in Afghanistan. But now, the California National Guard is demanding more sacrifices from her -- to the tune of $650 a month.

Local veterans respond to controversy over re-enlistment bonuses

Americans are outraged after thousands of National Guard soldiers were asked by the

pentagon to repay their re-enlistment bonuses. The bonuses were about 15-thousand

dollars offered during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan war following 9-11.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers received letters to pay it all back.

‘Clear Bias’ Against Hiring Veterans Under Obama Administration,

Says Former VA Official

Veterans must be given preference in securing federal jobs, according to long-standing laws,

but hiring hasn’t always worked out in their favor. A federal audit found that on numerous

occasions, agencies placed Obama administration political appointees into career

government jobs with civil service protections—bypassing veterans.

Decision forces dozens of homeless veterans to vacate Tomah VA

Around 55 homeless veterans use space at the Tomah VA for temporary housing, as well as

attend classes designed to help get veterans in permanent homes.

But now, those veterans will be forced to vacate the facility by mid January.

Bodies switched at VA hospital, veteran's remains go missing for 5 days

A VA hospital in Colorado says it takes full responsibility for mixing up the remains of two

veterans who died at its facility. "They lost my father's body," said Sara Sandoval of the

remains belonging to her father Anthony Sandoval. The Navy veteran went

missing from Denver's VA hospital for five days. His wife knew something was wrong.

Walden: Big problem with VA bureaucracy

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) says as he travels through his district and listens

to calls for help to his office from his constituents, the number-one cry for help comes

from veterans trying to get benefits from the Veterans Administration,

which he calls a massive bureaucracy.

Clinton 'appalled' by effort to recoup veterans' bonuses

Hillary Clinton slammed the California National Guard and Pentagon on Monday for

reportedly demanding solders who fought in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago

to return enlistment bonuses they received for their service."I am appalled that

National Guard officials are attempting to recoup money from

soldiers who accepted bonuses a decade ago."

Soldiers Struggling to Repay Enlistment Bonuses Issued in Error

After 21 years in the military, three deployments, and a roadside bomb blast that left

him bleeding and unconscious, Christopher Van Meter got a letter from the Pentagon

saying he improperly received enlistment bonuses and now owed the government

$46,000.“I was having to choose between buying diapers

and food for my children and paying this debt.”

Missed diagnosis: VA fails to provide adequate

traumatic brain injury exams

Nearly 25,000 veterans across the United States have received improper traumatic

brain injury exams, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The federal agency

said from 2007 through 2015, in some cases, unqualified specialists performed the TBI

exams. Now, the VA is asking those veterans to be reexamined and CBS North

Carolina Investigates found 2,992 of those people are from North Carolina.

Congress needs to stop the cruel claw-back

of veterans' signing bonuses

We love our veterans, right? Americans like to say so.

We invite them to march in parades; we offer ceremonial tributes at their funerals.

We applaud them at football games, discount their gym fees, rotate their tires for free.

We consider ourselves a grateful nation. Why, then, would a grateful nation use

hectoring collection tactics to recoup signing bonuses that soldiers accepted

in good faith? Why would it garnish their wages and bully them with

bill collectors for money they were never supposed to owe?

For veterans, Amendment 72 represents another broken promise

Veterans in Colorado have repeatedly been promised care by our government.

Amendment 72 promises veterans more of the same,

but is set up for it to become yet another broken promise.

Parcheeya-Picchione v. McDonald,

NO. 15-2124, CAVC, July 11, 2016


This is a very recent decision involving the presumption of exposure to tactical

herbicides for those veterans who may have served in Thailand.  The Thai

presumptive rules are a little different than those for Agent Orange and Viet Nam;

the case is a good refresher as to the Thai-specific rules. Of greater interest

is the examination of VA’s reasons and bases in initially denying the claim and

appeal and the Court’s determination that prejudicial error was committed by VA. 

The Court examined the putative reasoning that VA engaged in and found issues in

VA’s description of where a small base camp associated with a larger Thai air base

was located.  The VA description contrasted with other descriptions of record of the

camp’s actual location and this called into question VA’s reasoning.  This set up a

situation similar to that of Gray v. McDonald, 27 Vet App 313, where VA’s reasoning

as to “brown water” determinations was found to be arbitrary and irrational. 

Deference is typically given to VA in decision making on the facts of a case, but not if

such decision making is considered “arbitrary or capricious”.  If that’s the case, the

veteran can typically bring up the “arbitrary and capricious”

argument and its very, very powerful.

/s/ Drew Early

Veterans Law Attorney