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Sticky Thread Stuff (Chapt. 2) part 1

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    Sticky Thread Stuff (Chapt. 2) part 1

    Remember folks, this is just my background and experience. If you see something wrong or missing, sing out.


    In my opinion, we won't know the answer to that until we know what causes MS in the first place. The VA has stated that they are taking a more active approach to treating MS due to studies that showed a higher incidence of MS in vets who served during the 1980's and 1990's up to the present. As I see it, this is only statistical data at this point with no clear conclusion and we should, for the time being, focus more on treatment than a cause. In other words, your theory is as good as mine.

    While I have some opinions about certain shots and pills and the conditions we served under, I also had a VA rep tell me, "That recessive gene can be tricky". If your time of service is outside "the window" I would still check into VA care. The first thing I learned about MS is that this ain't no cheap disease.


    I can't answer that, only you can. If you're covered by work or your spouse's health care package then maybe not. If you're out of work and/or lost your insurance the VA may be your only alternative. If you're feeling like you're out of options on your own then the VA will probably be the right choice.
    If the question is "Am I eligible to file a claim?" the answer is usually yes as long as you had what is considered an Honorable Discharge from military service. If your status is "other than honorable", it may be possible to have it changed to "honorable", check with a VA rep for more info if this is the case.

    Either way, its important to understand that the VA is like an insurance policy that you paid into while on active duty. The DOD budgeted this service based on your probabilty of needing it.


    Honestly, MS treatment is enough of a financial burden unless you also have some other catastrophic disease. The VA will screen you for treatment of other problems anyway, let them make the call.

    Somewhere along the line, someone will probably tell you that Tinnitis can only be Dx'd if you tell them you have it and that anyone who went to boot camp has PTSD. I'm guessing this person doesn't have MS. While its important to tell the VA all the things which have gone wrong, avoid the temptation to "run the table" when you're first starting out. The VA may "triage" other problems until later but learn to separate "wants" from "needs" and keep your expectations grounded.
    Part 1.

    Sticky Thread Stuff (Chapt. 2) part 2


    Not much that I can see. A VA clinic should be on par with a regular clinic and a VA hospital will be about the same as a large regional hospital. The main difference is that VA doctors bid to provide services on a contract basis, although this is also true for some larger hospitals.

    Otherwise, VA hospitals and clinics have the same ups and downs as their civilian counter parts. If you're a "walk-in" patient plan on a wait, likewise appointments can run long just like in the real world and hospital food is still hospital food.
    The other difference that I've found is in structure. Once you're a VA patient you'll have an overall team leader assigned to you, usually a GP doctor or PA. Their job is to track your status and ensure you're going to the right departments at the proper intervals. From there you will usually be assigned to other doctors for different specialties. This is where the old military concept of "chain of command" can come into play. If you were to disagree with a specialty doctor its usually best to try to resolve it with that doctor before bumping it up to your team leader. Jumping the chain can be risky, just like the old days.

    Its also important to understand that the VA is federally mandated and funded. That means you'll get proper care and treatment so long as it applies to federal guidlines. Meaning, don't hold your breath on experimental drugs and treatments until a lot of congressmen and senators vote on it. In the past, the VA has tried "fast tracking" some treatments and drugs and they paid for it later in terms of liability (a smoking ceasation treatment being the most recent). While some VA hospitals may join a study, its best to assume they will err on the side of caution.


    Your first step should be to visit a VA hosptial, clinic, or VA Service Officer (VSO) directly. I'm basing this on getting medical help first. In general, it might take a month to see a VA specialist doctor and up to six months or more to get a VA pension. Be sure your VSO knows what's important to you.

    You'll need your original copy of your DD214 form in your service jacket or a certified copy, more proof of identity (driver's lic., military or civilian photo ID card, social securtity card, birth certificate, addressed mail, etc.), and some patience. You may also want to bring financial documents to show proof of need and medical files and bills (both military and civilian), but this is not really needed yet.
    If you can't locate your service jacket and DD214 you still have two options. You (or your VSO) can contact the VA in your home of record state or apply for a copy via the VA's national data base (either by mail or online). I STRONLGY suggest using your local VA. The national registry is also tasked with burial and cemetary duties and they receive hudreds of requests each day.
    Your DD214 is also considered a VERY important document in terms of identy theft, so you can imagine how many other documents the national registry will want to see.

    If a trip to your state's VA hospital would be too much of a burden, check your phone book's GOV'T SERVICES section for local VA services or ask around. Vets tend to want to help each other before they help themselves. You can get good info just by asking another vet you know. There should also be other vet's services organizations in your area that have their own VA service officer on their staff. Org's such as the DAV, American Legion, VVA, PVA, VFW, etc. may or may not have a service officer although they may have a van and vollunteer service for transportation to a VA hospital or clinic.
    Note that you do not have to be a memeber of these service organizations or pay dues or a fee for these services. On the other hand, be mindful that most of the people who are helping you are doing so as vollunteers and its OK to join a service org. as a member down the road. If they're having a food or clothing drive, give 'till it hurts.

    Which type of VSO you wind up with depends mostly on your location. Some states and counties have strong reps, some service orgs would rather have chicken dinners and parades, and some states are just over-burdened.
    Its up to you to find the best representative for your needs.
    You'll also need to assign Power Of Attorney (POA) status to your representitive. This is a painless proceedure, you'll just need to sign a form, but be aware that this form can superceed other POA documents. For example, suppose you or members of your family are part of a trust that is handled by an attorney who has POA status. It would be beneficial to contact that attorney first and inform them of what you are doing and why.

    Its also important to realize that VSO's are trained to understand the VA beaurocracy and to represent all of the Vets who sign up with them. They don't get paid to be your buddy (they HAVE to stay objective) and they can have good days and bad days just like the rest of us. Most VSO's represent a LOT of Vets, so plan on staying on topic when you meet with them and save the small talk for later. In my experience, they also appreciate honesty and woe to the Vet who gets caught holding back information or fabricating incidents. Once you lose your credibility you're not getting it back.
    Part 2. Trust me, we're almost there.


      Sticky Thread Stuff (Chapt. 2) part 3


      I've been kind of hestitant to include this section for several reasons. Mainly, a VA pension and VA health care are two different animals. The topic of pensions also tends to go all across the board. The only two kinds of pensions seem to be the one you're getting and the one you wish you were getting. Granted, its also tough to be getting medical services while you're living in a cardboard box. In terms of disclosure, I'm getting a non-service connected pension which we'll get into later.
      For the most part, there are three kinds of VA pensions. Retirement, Service Connected, and Non-service Connected.

      Retirement- You did your 20 years of active service and are either retirement age or disabled. You also don't need me to tell you about what you're quallified for or how to get it.

      Service Connected- Your were able to document to the VA that your condition was due to, or occured during your active service time. In the case of MS, you have a seven year window from the date of your EAOS (end of active service) until you were either diagnosed with MS or had documented symtoms that could be identified by the VA as signs of your later MS diagnosis. A Service Connected pension can be thought of as compensation for serving in an active status when you shouldn't have been or being wounded or harmed as a direct result of active service. As such, you're allowed to work so long as your work does not exceed your level of disability or you may also collect income from social security or other sources.

      Non-Service Connected- You filed outside the window, you're not able to work (you are more than 70% disabled), and the VA is cutting you some slack. Basically, the VA is saying it wasn't your service's fault but since there are no icebergs for you to climb on to, they'll take care of your basic needs so you can survive. You are not allowed to collect any other income, although you may be eligable to collect basic human services benefits such as food stamps and heating assistance.

      Above all, its important to realize that a VA pension is not like winning the lottery. Earlier I mentioned being able to seperate wants from needs. The better you are at doing this now, the better things will be when it comes to surviving on a pension.
      Part 3. Note I'm hesitant to deal with pensions. They don't seem to impact the basic level of care outside of being able to survive.
      So please, read it through and fold spindle and mutilate as needed. This info isn't helpful if I missed something or got something wrong.


        VEE and PPMS

        In 1971 I was stationed at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) where I volunteered for Project Whitecoat. The project I was assigned to resulted in my being a test subject for testing a trial innoculation against Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE) along with Sand Fly Fever. Blood was drawn on me every day for a week and I never experienced any illness at the time. However, I was diagnosed with PPMS in 2004 and I've wondered if the trial innoculation of VEE could have initiated my PPMS some 20 - 30 years later? Where might I even begin to research this out. My Neuros think there is no connection.


          The timeline is pretty long on this one. You could try re-connecting with some of your old buds ( has a BB that might help) and see how they're doing. If, say, 20 of you were in the study and 15 of you developed an autoimune disorder you might have something to work with. Those results would really have to stand out, though.
          Its still a longshot and proving anything would be a bear and a half (I'm guessing the paper trail is long gone even if it could help you).


            One thing I forgot to mention.

            It really pays to live the straight and narrow.
            If you were incarcerated/convicted after you got out and you apply for a VA pension, your odds of getting it just went into the Powerball/Megabucks range.
            Likewise, if you already had a pension and get convicted its more than possible you'll lose it and may get a bill from the VA.
            This is for pensions only, I don't think it effects health care issues.