Military Experience - The 'After' Life
Like a good Airman I went through all the classes that were offered to me during my separation. The class about how to correctly file a disability claim was especially grueling and even more... breath taking!
After leaving the Air Force and moving two hours away from the nearest base I thought I was well prepared for everything I needed to do to file my disability claim.
However, as it turned out, that was a big illusion!
It all started out with the simple issue of having had to order my records one month prior to separating. When I asked about my records for the local Army Community Hospital that were 'accomplised' after that application date for my records, I was ensured that it was nothing but a thing to receive those records too. Oh Boy!
My car was broke for three months with a very expensive to repair blown transmission! Simply calling the record section and requesting the information should have been easy. Hmmmh....
The records section rarely answers the phone and playing phone tag with superiors didn't do much to help. When they did answer the phone, I was ordered to fill out a form to request my records and mail it/fax it to... at the End five different places. Needless to say I never did receive a single page of my records! Weeks turned into month and annoyance into frustration.
But being a talk-active person, I must have mentioned my problem to the right person!
A lady from a county office told me to my town, like many others, has a local VA representative. They are located in the Registrar of Deeds!? I don't know how many times I drove pass there and never knew! So I called the office and was told that if I couldn't get my records, I could ask one of the local... lets call them public representatives... for help.
It sounded drastic and the secretary wasn't excited about my request. I gave up on it!
Again I filled out a form and send it out, after having told by the VA rep to send it to the NJ records section this time. Weeks later I received a letter that they didn't have my records yet. Sorry!
Once again I called the VA rep; to cancel my appointment with them to file for disability. She was surprised when she heard my reason; I can't get my records!
"But you don't need them! You just need a copy of your DD 214, if it is your first time with us!"
I think I was between laughing and crying! My DD 214 had been filled with the Registrar of Deeds, after my realtor told me about that option. You can't lose it and can always get a free copy! And you for sure don't have to go through the six month of fight a friend of mine has that is trying to get a copy of his after retiring!
The whole procedure took an hour! She filled out the once so complicating sounding form that had taken an entire 6 hour class to learn how to do it. She asked a few questions and took my copy of my DD 214.
It may take 60 days for them to file it as your representative; and a year for the VA to even figure out if you are approved. But after a year and a half of being blown off by Customer Service reps, this sounds like the light at the end of the tunnel.
She helped me find anything that may be claimable and answered all my questions. She filled the form out for me. She is representing me for free, compared to the $300 that lawyer would have charged me up front (most lawyers won't do VA disability!). She gave me several numbers for her office to call if I had questions. THAT is Customer Service!
If you are trying to file for disability:
- Don't fight that paper-war alone! Get help from your local VA representatives! Lawyers and even military organizations charge you anything from a monthly membership to large fees!-
- The VA rep told me to see a doctor and have them look at my possibly now more sever 'issues'. You can actually apply with the VA for free Health Care that you can receive at your local VA hospital or clinic.
- Keep records of your 'quest'. You may need them when you have to re-file something over and over again! I eventually made a copy and send it ...again!
- Don't give up! You earned it! You served your Country!
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