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How Your Local Representatives In Congress Can Help You Navigate The VA
In 1992, when I was discharged from the Air Force, I had several serious medical issues dating back to my time in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm; issues that forced me to take an early out from the Air Force. I went to the Orlando Veterans Affairs clinic within a few months after I got discharged to get help for my medical problems. From the beginning, it seemed I was hitting a brick wall. The doctor I saw for the chronic diarrhea I was having since 1991 looked me in the eye and said, “It’s all in your head.” Boy, that was laughable. All I could say was, “No, it’s not.” The doctors put me through various tests, but claimed the results only showed irritable bowels.
Around 1997, the intense bone pain I had since the day I received 21 vaccines to deploy had become so unbearable that I could barely walk. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, which resulted in severe pain in all of my major joints and muscles.
I tried to put forth my claim on my own for the first five years with little success. After I was diagnosed with lupus, I received a notice from the VA that I was only getting a 30% disability rating for irritable bowel syndrome and hypertension. It was broken down as 20% for chronic diarrhea and 10% for hypertension. Since the VA claims office could not really explain why that was, I asked around and was given the advice to call my representative in Congress. I researched who that was for Orlando, Florida, and wrote a letter to Congressman Bill McCollum and Congresswoman Corrine Brown. McCollum, a Republican, was the first person I heard from. (Let me just say here: Regardless of your political affiliation it is well worth your time to contact all of the representatives for your district whether your political beliefs align or not.) He contacted the Orlando VA to speak to my doctor and also contacted the director of the Tampa VA to make sure that I was receiving the proper medical care and to get an explanation on why the ratings were so low initially.
For some years, I continued to do my own claims until I became too ill to finish my college degree and unable to sit at my desk. Further, my employer fired me for not being able to return to work after a lengthy absence. However, the VA claims officer who performed my medical exam said I didn’t have fibromyalgia from Desert Storm, so my claim was denied and I had to bring it to the VA Board of Appeals. The Disabled American Veterans organization helped me and I went before the judge, but she also denied my claim stating that there was not enough evidence for fibromyalgia. So I called Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and told his veterans affairs staff member what had happened and how I was denied. By this time, the veterans’ representative and Nelson knew me well because I had participated in a focus group that the senator had overseen on veterans’ issues in Orlando. The senator’s office contacted the regional claims office on my behalf.
Within one week, my claims case manager called me himself and asked me questions about my health and the lengthy history of my claims process. That certainly had never happened before. After that call, I knew I had done the right thing. Once the claims office identified my claim as being part of an official congressional inquiry, they made sure they had thoroughly reviewed my case. Within one month, I received a letter stating that I would receive total compensation and unemployability.
Don’t be ashamed or scared to reach out. You have paid taxes, so it is your right to ask for help from your congressional representatives.
Your approved claim is waiting.
A U.S.S. Manchester, CL-83, hat firmly tucked on his head, John Ronney, pierced the collar of his granddaughter, Jennifer Rooney's new rank during a special pinning ceremony at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune on Sept. 25.
By Rooney's side was his son and Jennifer's father Robert, a Navy veteran. Together, three Navy veterans brought together for military tradition.
"They are the two people who taught me everything I needed to know about the Navy," said Jennifer.
CAMP PENDLETON — The military prosecution of a Coast Guardsman accused of murder began Wednesday with a preliminary hearing at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
Seaman Ethan W. Tucker, 21, was arrested August 28 after a seven-month Coast Guard investigation into the January death of Seaman Ethan Kelch, 19, who served on the same ship as Tucker— the Kodiak, Alaska-based high endurance cutter Douglas Munro.
ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and "crush the heads of terrorists" if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area were not fully implemented.
Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.
President Trump stoked confusion Friday by declaring the U.S. has "secured the Oil" in the Middle East amid continued fallout from the Turkish invasion of northern Syria that he enabled by pulling American troops out of the region.
It wasn't immediately clear what the president was talking about, as there were no publicly known developments in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East relating to oil. White House aides did not return requests for comment.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. State Department investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state has found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.
The investigation, the results of which were released on Friday by Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's office, centered on whether Clinton, who served as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013, jeopardized classified information by using a private email server rather than a government one.