So I had a bit of a verbal tussle with someone on FB, after I posted a paperwork package to submit a claim for Tinnitus (that damn ringing in the ears) for fellow Missile Combat Crew Members (aka “missileers”).
If you’re in need of an assist to file your VA claim for Tinnitus, see the file link below. As such, I am NOT a lawyer and this cannot be construed as legal advice – it is just a collection of information that can support your tinnitus claim if you were a missile combat crew member (or any of the officer AFSCs listed in the document).
The dissenting FB comment went like this:
“Despite your good intentions, how will you ensure this packet is not misused within a fraudulent claim for benefits? Part of the reason it is so difficult to get awards is because the system has been and continues to be abused. Not all conditions are service connected. Providing guidance and assistance is one things but as a Service Officer I would caution with this approach, even if the perceived good outweighs the bad or risk.”
While I thought about the words above, I looked at something from the post originator that I found interesting: they are claiming to be a Veterans Service Officer (VSO).
Let me be clear: I do NOT condone fraudulent claims. But I do believe in helping folks when they are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. (Don’t we all feel like this nowadays??)
I had nothing but trouble with the DAV VSO in Minot (ND) and Central Coast (CA). They didn’t seem to want to do their jobs OR felt their job was to be a gatekeeper (aka “they” get to decide what is a valid claim to submit to the VA).
What I’ve heard from many other vets is that “their” VSO was amazing and helped with their VA claim to get some percentage based on their medical and service histories.
Well, that is fucking awesome… for you, that is.
Personally, with the (limited) experience I’ve had from DAV and VFW VSOs, I would drop their asses out of a C-141 without a parachute.
Circa 2015, I had no support from three VSOs I approached (Minot, California and New Mexico). All three claimed there wasn’t enough info to file for anything in my record. I disagreed, and provided my 400-pg medical file to VA, along with claims and supporting documentation like this. I let the (big) VA (not a local VSO) decide if there was a legitimate claim.
Funny enough, the (big) VA agreed and gave me a percentage for my tinnitus.
Now, a VSO might tell you “Perhaps you did NOT have enough to file a claim.”
Well a VSO opinion is NOT the (big) VA opinion. Stated differently, those local or volunteer VSOs are NOT the ones who review the evidence and regulations to provide the OFFICIAL VA opinion. They are gatekeepers designed to keep the paperwork level down for (big) VA.
Do not automatically assume they are there to help you.
Don’t always believe what these people say. They’re human. They will help you when they feel like it; they will not help you when it burdens them with more paperwork or they are having a bad day.
You’ll hear this shitty line a LOT these days: “Do your own research. Form your own opinion.”
Well, I did exactly that and received the ire of a VSO.
I guess I’m doing something right.
And if you’re stuck on my implied threat above, here’s some music to ponder by.