Sometimes The VA Gets It Right: How Secretary Robert McDonald Expertly Assisted One Veteran

Sometimes The VA Gets It Right: How Secretary Robert McDonald Expertly Assisted One Veteran

from Jon Macintosh’s

One of our brothers, Ranger [REDACTED], a former Airborne Ranger with the 1st Ranger Battalion, was recently awarded 100% disability by the BVA in a long-standing battle with the VA.

This came one month after his first of two total hip-replacement surgeries, stemming from severe injuries (parachute landings and other causes) suffered while on active-duty as a Ranger.

Interestingly, Ranger [REDACTED] not only injured both hips and knees, but also broke his pelvis on one particular night parachute landing, and did not learn of the exact nature of the injury until more than 10 years later when a VA surgeon pointed it out on an x-ray. Ranger [REDACTED] honorably served out his 4.5-year enlistment that included spending five fun months in PreRanger and Ranger School.

He fully credits his fellow Rangers with instilling in him a “suck it up and drive on, motherfucker!” spirit, which he carries with him and implements to this day.

Ranger [REDACTED]’s only complaint at the time was, “My fuckin’ ass sure hurts like motherfuckin’ shit.”

Fast-forward to December 2015:

VAMCVet3Ranger [REDACTED] said, “After more than 10 years fighting the VA on my appeal, I found Secretary Robert McDonald’s email address and sent him a very impassioned and respectful letter, asking for his expert assistance.

That was on Friday, 18 December 2015. Within three hours, I got a kind response from his assistant who told me they were immediately directing it to ‘VA leadership’ in St. Petersburg, FL. On 22 December, the St. Pete VARO began working hard to implement the BVA’s order.

“Today, 09 January 2016: less than three weeks from my initial letter to Secretary McDonald, the St. Petersburg VA Regional Office implemented the BVA’s award to me, sent me my various award letters and supporting information, and then paid me my retro payment.

“All this happened so fast, I’m still reeling from it all. And it happened during the busiest, if not the worst, time of the year. If that’s not world-class customer service, I don’t know what is.

“I kindly thank Secretary McDonald and his staff not only for acting so diligently on my impassioned request, but also for doing it in record time.”

Ranger [REDACTED] is one of thousands of veterans who has gone through the maze of the VA disability claims and appeals process . . . and not only survived but got exactly what he fought so hard for, for many years, because he developed a first-class claim and appeal, used all available resources smartly, got a great VA-accredited attorney to assist him, and did what good Rangers do: never quit on something important to you and the mission.

Making the Best of Being Homeless

Ranger [REDACTED] also shares with me his well-kept secret of the past two years: that he spent two years being 100% homeless. On the streets of St. Petersburg, FL, on the many beaches in Pinellas County, and in homeless shelters. He discovered great social workers who supported and guided him during the darkest of times, and also wonderfully supportive fellow veterans who were always there with a kind word and pat on the back.

He used VA Disability Claim, my book, to navigate the system, find a suitable attorney to represent his interests, and assisted the law firm by writing a 10-page Personal Statement directly to the BVA Veterans Law Judge, J. Parker, who cited Ranger [REDACTED]’s statements multiple times in his favorable decision.

Ranger [REDACTED] says of the Personal Statement:

“My attorney and her colleagues were doing an okay job, but I felt they weren’t injecting much-needed high passion and energy into the equation, and I told her so. So I formulated a highly detailed Personal Statement that outlined my entire case and cited the Code of Federal Regulations and other legal books and citations. And I did not allow my attorney to see it until after the BVA received it, although, to her credit, she did offer to review it. My Statement was so powerful, it caught the attention of Judge Parker who I know considered it carefully when he made his decision in my favor. He wrote about it several times. That’s far more than he quoted or acknowledged my attorney or their employment expert who wrote a supporting letter on my behalf.

“You can’t beat a Personal Statement that comes from the heart and soul of a broken veteran who has seen it all, and also uses relevant case law and laws and statutes in your favor. Someone else at the BVA said my Statement really moved them. I strongly encourage all veterans to write their own Personal Statement in the form of a compelling story, something that will move not only the mind of the judge and BVA attorneys reading it, but their heart and soul, as well. The Personal Statement can also be used for a veteran’s initial VA disability claim.

“When I shared the good news and a heartfelt thank-you with Secretary McDonald, he wrote back, ‘I’m glad we could help, [REDACTED]. Thanks for letting me know. Thanks for your service. Bob.’

“So, was it worth 10 years of pain and other shit I won’t get into here? Hell, yeah. No, fuck, yeah!

Ask For Help . . . And Ye Shall Receive!

Ranger [REDACTED] said, “My message to all other vets: keep a record of everything . . . document even the smallest of things, especially when you’re still active duty, because you will need it afterward when you enter the VA healthcare and benefits systems. And if you think you have a great case that will earn you a high disability rating, think again . . . the VA is your adversary and will act against you at every turn. When I requested and received the expert assistance of VA Secretary Robert McDonald, everything then changed . . . in my favor. I was shocked on so many levels. Still am, quite honestly.

“Secretary McDonald made things happen, because I had not only documented my case so well, but communicated it with such high passion and energy that the BVA judge could not ignore me this time, like they had done in the past. Secretary McDonald clearly cannot come to the aid of every veteran out there, but if you are profuckinactive and ask for his help, I’ll betcha you will get it. And if you present to him and his staff a world-class case, they will be impressed enough to bend over backward for you like they did for me. You absolutely must find ways to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. That is a given. Most guys just half-ass their claims and appeals . . . and they lose in a big way.

“Secretary McDonald was there for me.

“Thank you, Bob.”

We Are All Obligated To Assist Our Fellow Human Beings

During Ranger [REDACTED]’s two years as a homeless veteran, he assisted fellow veterans on how to prepare, file and maintain their VA disability claims and appeals. He also provided them with financial and moral support, something he continues to this day. He says he also raised several thousand dollars for two fellow special-operations veterans, and assisted them in finding suitable housing and jobs.

“When you have a special gift, you are obligated by The Universe to help your fellow man. It is my duty and responsibility to assist my veteran brothers and sisters, especially those who are homeless and do not know how to care for themselves.

“Again, it is my supreme duty to do so as a vet. . . and my honor as a fellow human being.

“My wish for my fellow Americans is that we all take a special interest in homeless veterans and do whatever it takes to end this horrible plague on humanity and those who served us without any expectation of thanks. We are still in the throes of The Greatest Depression in the History of America, but it is not an excuse not to come to the aid of our military veterans. They are, and forever shall remain, our precious gems.”

PurpleToesRangerGarnerRanger [REDACTED] says he celebrated the holidays by getting a pedicure, because after his hip-replacement surgery he couldn’t bend down to do it himself, and then having his toes painted deep purple.

I can understand the pedicure.

When I asked him about the deep-purple toenails, Ranger [REDACTED] said, “I was sandwiched between these two beautiful girls and was looking for every excuse on the menu to stay in that place for as long as I could. After that, I got three back-to-back manicures. No, I did not have my fingernails painted, but I had lunch with one of those beautiful girls. Dinner with the other one next week.”

Ah, the sacrifices Rangers make for their women.