The VA clinic here in Bend is pretty good to deal with. YUP, it's time to replace the right hip. The clinic puts me on NSAIDs to help and when that no longer takes the edge off the pain, they put me on Vicodin. On May 20th, 2009, I got checked out by DR. Vigland at the VA Hospital in Portland. After a large number of x-rays on my hips and knees, I'm added to the hip replacement list at the Portland Hospital. But, because I'm not listed as "service connected", my name goes to the bottom of the list. (As of today, January 1, 2010, they still have no projected surgery date.)
While this was going on, I was referred to a VVA Service Officer and start the process of challenging the previous VA denials. The first problem was getting copies of all my medical records. The requests were submitted to the San Diego Regional, San Diego Veterans Hospital, Fargo Regional, Fargo Veterans Hospital, Portland Regional, and Portland Veterans Hospital. (By law, they each have 20 days to respond of whether they will support the request or not.) The Portland Veteran's Hospital ships out their files within a week. Five months later and several calls by my SO have gotten us nowhere.
At this point, I contact my Congressman and both Senators. Congressman Walden responds within 48 hours, giving me a point of contact named John. Within 24 hours of getting John's contact information, he's got the ball and he's on the job. On a Wed., I'm in my SO's office when he calls the Fargo Regional Office to try to get my records. They denied having the records and made a number of excuses that both my SO and I know are BS. The following Monday, I get a call from John, telling me that I need to fax the request to the Fargo Regional Office and to tell them that Congressman Walden's office had verified that my records were in deed there. The fax goes out immediately and 10 business days later, I recieve a large 2.25" thick envelope, with everything in it. Copies of all my Active Military records, civilian records, Boeing medical records, and VA records are in the package.
A big THANK YOU to John and Congressman Walden.
Four weeks later, I get a letter from Senator Wyden's office and I contact the point of contact in the letter. Still haven't heard anything more from him or my other Senator. Obviously, my Senator's don't give a s#$% about me or Veterans.
We finally get all the paperwork together and file the claim . . . and another denial. Funniest part was the opening statement. "You are a Peacetime Era Veteran" . . . WTH?!? I go down in the field, overseas, during war time training, while my radio's are being jammed by the Soviets . . . and that's the way the VA looks at it??? (NOTE: This is the third time that the VA has failed to recognize the aggravation of the "pre-existing" condition, that is clearly documented in my military records, which they have had, all three times! There's a problem here . . . how to solve it, is the answer.)
I've got several things in the works right now. I've contacted my SO, who's currently over in Afghanistan to let him know that he was correct in his prediction and that we'll need to file for a hearing when he gets back in a couple months. And I've got a couple other things in the works that I can't talk about yet. I'll post as these come to bear or I hear back from the VA.
It seems that the fact that I went down in the field, while on Active Duty, means nothing to the VA. But, they seem to have no problem giving me drugs to shorten my life and make it as miserable as possible. I'm currently on 50mg of Indomethacin and 2,000mg of Vicodin a day. These drugs tend to destroy the kidney's and the liver, especially at the doses I'm on. It's also getting to the point that these drug doses are starting to fail at taking the edge off.
More as it happens!