My Struggle With PTSD

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Since 2004 when I was deployed to Iraq I felt changes that I thought was from growing up, from experience and becoming more than I was because of war. Now so many years later I have come to realize that those changes were from different things than I had thought. The death of a fellow soldier, being in a war zone, and my medical issues that I have been fighting since have truly shaped my brain. Since 2004 I have fought the notion that I had PTSD. I think the signs were always there, but I didn’t let them affect me. Now as I am dealing more with my medical issues those old thoughts are creeping back up, and my guard is down and as of March, I have been diagnosed with PTSD.

The hardest part of this diagnosis is knowing the destruction I have caused over the last 11 years. PTSD does that, it affects the brain in a way that the person you used to be isn’t there anymore. It affected me in so many ways that I understand more now as to why and wish I would have caught it earlier. PTSD if not caught can destroy families, destroy careers, and can cause suicide. Its a serious issue that we must seek in all soldiers returning from combat. Many soldiers will shrug it off as nothing, but later it will affect them as it is affecting me now.

I can honestly say now that I can look back of the last 11 years and see all my faults and all the destruction that I have done and only wish to say I am sorry. What I have lost is family and friends, but the worst is I lost myself. I lost those things that make me me. I isolated myself from my family, from my kids, from those that I love. My emotions towards certain things changed also. The things I loved to do, weren’t fun anymore. Happiness wasn’t the same. Friendships weren’t the same.

The hardest transition was from the military. My first job made me just as happy as being in the military because in the military I had a purpose and working for the Church gave me a purpose. I think this helped with the PTSD issues. I think the last time I was truly happy with my life and career was while I was at the Church. Ever since I was laid off from the Church I have gone from job to job, looking for that same purpose. Most of the people that become a soldier want purpose in their life, they want meaning in what they do, they want to be protectors and want more for themselves. And that’s the struggle when soldiers leave the military. They have to search for that purpose, that meaning. Its the hardest transition in life, going from a purpose filled to a purposeless life style. I believe that’s why so many join Veterans groups, become police officers and firefighters. That feeling of having a purpose continues to drive them. Without it the PTSD, the memories become more real, more vivid and become more apart of their everyday life instead of just a memory.

Most of all this became real the moment I put in my claim for PTSD through the VA. When I met with the counselor and was asked questions I have never been asked before and then seeing that they said I did have PTSD, it made it more real. The constant reminder everyday of the medical issues I have that I get no answers for don’t help in the matter. Parts of my life I know I have to live with and adjust too. That also doesn’t help because the PTSD makes it difficult for me to really want to do anything, the medical issues keep me from doing the things I want to do, like running. So its a double edged sword. The one thing I know is that my medical can never be fixed, that I will live with my condition for the rest of my life. The PTSD over time will go away through proactive counseling and the continued pursuit of peace internally. So I am more focused on the the PTSD these days than the medical.

We need to really start cracking down on the PTSD issues within the military. Every soldiers that deploys to a hostile environment has PTSD. If they say they don’t then they really do. The human body wasn’t designed to handle the things that happen in war, no amount of training will keep a soldier from forming PTSD. The screening needs to be more rigorous and needs to be more frequent. Soldiers just coming back from combat will not show signs of PTSD, because they aren’t disconnected from combat. It takes time for that disconnect and for the PTSD signs to show.

I have read and done the research on the 22 deaths a day. I always see, 1 active soldier, and 21 veterans take their lives everyday. If we really dive into these issues you will see that all 22 suicides could have been stopped internally. A soldier with any signs of PTSD should not be allowed to be released from active duty until they are stable. A soldier should never result to the point of suicide. The chain of command needs to be more active in these soldiers lives, they need to be more proactive in seeing the signs and knowing their soldiers more. This also goes up the chain of command. Soldiers need to know the signs that they will see in their leaders and the same way leaders down to their soldiers. When I was in I had leaders that were so proactive I hated that they knew so much about where I would go, but I look back now and thank those leaders because they were proactive in my life as a soldier.

I want to say sorry to all those friends that I have hurt in the past. I am truly sorry. I am sorry to all my family for not being proactive in the family and being disconnected. I am still working on that part of my life. Sorry to those that I hurt as those were not my intentions. I am still struggling with these issues and will continue to for the rest of my life. But I now know and understand the issues and I understand that its not me, that this person that has taken over isn’t me. That I am more than this. That I don’t have to be in the military to live a purpose driven life. PTSD will not define me, its what I have, not who I am.

PTSD – Its a disease that many can’t see that can destroy lives. We need to come together and fix this as a country!!!

Accomplishments

Congratulations to our newest CTU Graduates!     ctu

Dear CTU Graduates, Friends and Family…

You are cordially invited to join Colorado Technical University 
as we celebrate the academic achievements of our graduates on

Saturday, October 10, 2015

 

Commencement Ceremony
8:00 AM Central Time
(A recording of this ceremony will be available for one year)

Noelle Pikus Pace, Olympic Medalist, World Champion, & CTU Grad
Dr. Connie Johnson, Ed.D., Provost & Chief Academic Officer

Live Chat Reception 
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Central Time

This will be an opportunity for you to chat with
classmates, your family and friends, and CTU leaders, faculty and staff.

To Attend
Graduates who wish to attend may access the web address below and
enter both your Virtual Campus username and password.

Guests
Guests who wish to attend may access the web address below and
type in their first and last name, then the guest password: asgs1020156

http://graduation.ctuonline.edu?g0iDbZQiQAHGldEHgnlC+o78tqJExFChA9tB2aqg6401
(Or copy and paste the URL into the address bar.)

For all Attendees:
If not already installed, upon entering the ceremony you will be asked to
install a Flash program that is required to successfully view the graduation.

Its been a long road! Thanks to everyone that has helped along to the way.

Finding that place where you fit

When I left service in 2009 one of the hardest transitions was finding my place in the world. For almost 10 years my place was next to my battle, doing the same thing day in and day out. Up at 530, PT at 6, formation at 9, lunch at 1130, end of day formation at 1630. Its what I did for 95% of my military career. Finding that balance when I left service was hard. It will be 6 years on the 25th of this month that I have been out of military. Its truly taken me that long to, not stand with my hands behind my back. To be able to speak to the CEO of the company I work for. I’m still always 15 minutes early for everything. I make everything a routine and lay it all out before I do it. The many things the Army taught me they did for a reason. It disciplined me into being a better person and more efficient.

When I left the service I had one future in mind, becoming a Pastor. I gave my life to Christ in 2008 and started school at Grand Canyon University to become a Pastor. It became my life and developed into more than just something that I wanted to do, its something I felt a calling to do. But that all changed in November of 2011. The place I was working laid me off and those dreams where quickly killed because I was without a job and needed to provide for my family, so I used my skills and started seeking employment with IT tech firms and companies, but many didn’t want me because my degree didn’t match up with my job field. I did find something that kicked my IT degree into overdrive and over the years has helped me learn and develop the skills that the Army instilled in me.

When I was laid off I didn’t remove God from my life. I just set aside Church from my life. God is always there and will always be the guiding light to my life and the choices I make. But lately I have been feeling the call again. The call to speak, to teach, and to share the word of God. It doesn’t help that my best friend and something I trust as a real brother is on the same path and we are able to slowly walk it together.

The reason for all this is, there comes a time in you life that you realize that the things in your past have been leading to a point of where you are at the moment. You start to put the pieces together and start making changes that need to align with His plans and goals. God gives us all the tools to do His work. Whether we think we can do it or not, He will never let us fail if we have faith in His plan.

There have only been two places that I have truly felt like I belonged, in the military and behind the podium. And the podium use to scare me until God gave me the tools to overcome that fear. I’ve come to realize that these two places feel this way because it’s the two places where whatever I was doing was making a difference. Serving I was making a difference and serving my country, working to become a Pastor was service to my community and serving my Lord.

As a soldier the greatest is being a believer and knowing that God put you in the right place at the right time.

To all POW/MIA you are not forgotten. Your sacrifice is the greatest for this country.

9/11

Its been 14 years since that day.

I was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. I was part of the 2nd battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Calvary Division. I woke up that morning having just come back from the a 30 day field exercise. My plans for the day were to relax and spend some time with my girlfriend at the time. I got dressed and headed to her house which was about an hour away. When I got there I walked in and her and her family were sitting around the television. They started to explain to me what had happened and I continued to watch as the second plane crashed into the second tower. I felt then what I continue to feel today. Sadness for those that were killed. Hatred for those that took the lives of so many and attacked my country. That hatred would grow into an understanding that what they did was orchestrated by something greater than they were.

I then received a phone call from my Platoon SGT. that I needed to get back to base. When I arrived back at the base I spent what seemed like forever in traffic. The base was locked down and they were only allowing soldiers and families back on the base. I reported back to my Platoon SGT that I was back on base and on Monday morning we were briefed about what had happened. I wouldn’t be until February of 2004 when I would first deploy with the 1st Infantry Division to Tikrit, Iraq, but I can tell you that we trained hard and we worked hard to prepare for going.

Life changed so much in the Army after 9/11. Before, bases were open and you could come and go as you pleased. After 9/11 checkpoints were put in place, showing a valid ID was a norm and if you had visitors you had to sign them in and they were only allowed on base for 24 hours. Barricades went up in front of all HQ buildings and life just in general on base changed. We also started receiving new equipment to prepare for the worst.

One thing that I do remember the most about 9/11 has nothing to do with the military, but has to do with America. During the Gulf war I was in 3rd Grade and I remember placing yellow ribbons on trees and as young as I was, I can still remember how it felt to be an American. It felt great. That same feeling was here in America after 9/11 happened. The country came together and became stronger.

What has happened America? Why do we need to have wars to come together as One Nation under God? It seems like throughout the history of our nation it takes attacks on our soul to bring us together as a nation. The revolutionary war, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, 9/11, what will it take to keep our country strong and together. We are no longer a United States, but a Divided States of America. As president Lincoln said, a house Divided is a house that Falls.

What we have allowed in this country since 9/11 is the ability for our government to rule over every aspect of our lives, for what, safety? If this country doesn’t wake up and realize that the Government can’t keep us safe that we as the people of this Nation are our only hope then we will become a great Nation again. The government can’t even keep out illegals and they say they can keep us safe. We have allowed corruption, greed, and Satan to infiltrate our Nation and only the American people can take it back.

Please take a moment of silence today to thank all those Soldiers that paid the ultimate sacrifice to give you the freedoms that you are allowing the government to take away. Take a moment of silence for the Men and Woman that are still on the front lines defending a freedom that they will not have when they return. Take a moment of silence also for all the Men and Woman around our Country that put their lives on the line to keep us safe at home. If we remember that we wouldn’t be here without them, maybe we might just come together now more than we have ever needed to before.

To all my fellow brothers and sisters at Arms, the true war has just begun. The war to defend our rights here in America. The war to get what we deserve as Veterans. We must stand together and use everything we have to defeat the VA and the Government that is killing our Veterans. I thank you all for your service. And to those that we lost, I thank you for our ultimate sacrifice. To those families that have lost a soldier, there is no pain greater, but there is no debt higher that can be paid. I wish you all the best and know that as a Veteran I am fighting to keep your memories alive and to ensure they didn’t sacrifice their lives for nothing.

America!!! – Always will be and forever – One Nation Under God!!!!

Another VA Fail

So today I had an appointment at the Phoenix VA at 11am. As always I arrived early. I pulled into the parking lot at exactly 10am. I circled through the parking lot looking for a space and continued driving for 50 minutes and still couldn’t find a parking spot. I then called the VA and spoke to patient care and asked for them to connect me to the Physical Therapy department so I could cancel my appointment as I knew I was not going to make it in time because I couldn’t get a parking spot. After they connected me the message stated that no operator was available and that I couldn’t leave a message because the voicemail box was full. So I hung up and then called patient care back again, explained the issue and they sent a message to cancel my appointment. This is the number one reason I don’t make appointments in the morning.

Now before anyone starts saying stupid stuff, they are building a new parking garage which I know will add more parking spots, but that doesn’t help me with my appointments now. It also doesn’t help the fact that I now I have to reschedule this appointment which I now have to wait on the VA to call me and reschedule this appointment, which means the next appointments for Physical Therapy I will have to change because the appointment I couldn’t attend today I have to have before my next appointment. I hope you see where I am going with this.

This is just another fail in the scheduling and how the VA hasn’t and won’t be able to attend to every VA patient that they have allowed to to access the VA system. Also there are way to many people that aren’t patience parking in the patient parking lot, like the DAV van and employees that I saw parking in the Patient parking lot.

Come on VA you have to do better than this.

VA Fails Again

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At first when I saw this on Facebook I began to laugh and then I realized that this must be an error on the Veterans Administrations part. But the real issue here isn’t the question, its the fact that its on a questionnaire that Veterans take within the VA medical system. Its shows you another fail on the VA’s part. Not double checking and triple checking their work to make sure that the correct information is being given to the Veterans is a fail on their part and is unacceptable. Now I know that sometimes I miss a word here and there and I might misspell a word on my blog, but this is a blog, its not a questionnaire that someone at the VA will need or have to take to get the health care they deserve. This question tells me, if I say yes, then I am dead and the questionnaire doesn’t matter. If I say no, who’s to say that the VA will take my issue seriously.

For a Federally Funded Organization the VA needs to do better, they need to step up their game and provide better care. They need to provide on time care and they need to get on board with providing quality care for the hero’s of this country.

Lets try and be the solution and not the problem. Veterans need to stand together and help the VA be better. As weird as that sounds, they can’t do it without us. If we want better care, we must stand together to defend what we fought for and what we served for. We deserve the right to have the best health care delivered by the VA and we won’t get that being divided. We will get that by standing together as one nation of Veterans and one voice of Veterans.

VA Fail!

So I got to experience my own VA Fail today. I couldn’t remember if I had an appointment this week so I went online and checked. Looked like I had an appointment at 1pm today, but it was at a different clinic, benefit of the doubt, thinking they were over booked and sent me to another clinic. Well I get there and start filling out paperwork. Then 1pm comes around and one of the nurses comes out and starts talking to the intake nurse. I actually heard her say that the intake nurse made a mistake and that Brian Gibbs isn’t here. I raised my hand and said ms., I’m right here. Then another Veteran stands and says he is Brian Gibbs. Well wouldn’t you know….. there are two registered Brian Gibbs in Phoenix. We have the same first name, Last name and last 4. The only difference in our social is the middle two numbers. So they booked the appointment under me instead of him.

This makes me wonder how many other failures there have been that I have been apart of. Just yesterday my VSO stated that the VA shows no records of me having any back issues, but if that were true, why has the VA sent me to two Back Specialist and I have a physical therapy appointment for my back on the 26th of this month. Because this fail happened today I wonder if that is the reason I have had so many issues because they have put the wrong information under the wrong case file. Now I can’t completely blame the VA. It is very hard to notice that the social security numbers are slightly different, the middle name is different, oh and we aren’t even the same age or skin color. I guess I could just blame my parents for not having an original name or the Social Security system for providing me a social security number so close to someone with the same name. Nope I’m going to blame the VA for not taking the time to process the information correctly. But this is just one instance that I know of so time to dig deeper to make sure my records are with the right person.

How epic to meet the other Brian Gibbs!!!

What we have lost

Today I read an article about how the POW/MIA flag came about and the controversy that surrounds it. There are now organizations that want the flag to be removed from the capital. They want the flag to be removed because of what it symbolizes or in fact what they think it symbolizes. I think if this flag is removed it will be the end to this country and what we stand for as Americans. I am all for history and love learning about where we come from, how we got where we are, and where that history might take us.

In this country we thrive off of history, tradition, and the American way. That way is being free to choose, free to fight, free to live, free to speak, free to be happy, and free to just be who we want without the continued hypocrisy that the rest of society puts out there. I din’t choose to become a soldier because it was cool or because it was the right thing to do. I didn’t join the Army to follow a fad or to be like someone else. I joined because I’m an American that wanted something better than the world had given me. I joined to serve my country. I was born into poverty and without any hopes of being anything. Instead of complaining about it and blaming society or the government I dreamed bigger and did everything I could to make a better life for myself and I knew that the only way I was going to do that was by joining the military. It gave me structure, discipline, hunger to learn, skills unmatched to others, and leadership values. But the best thing it gave me was a purpose in this world. As a poor kid growing up, I had no real purpose, no dreams of being something better. I was just me, but now, I am more than just me. I am a proud American Veteran who served my country honorably that has the skills to lead and has the skills to adapt.

History shows us that kids that grow up in poverty don’t go far…I’m sure there are some statistics out there that would show a very low percentage of poverty children that really don’t amount to much and I’m sure its right. I would also guess there’s a poll out there that black kids that grow up in poverty areas have no real futures and I’m sure that would be true. But what I say to those is the system didn’t fail them, society doesn’t fail them, and the government does fail them. History shows us that the Generations fail them. The generation before that couldn’t make it out of poverty have left the generations that are in poverty now still in poverty. The only blame you could put on the government is the fact that they give so much away for free. I’ve always heard the saying, nothing is free in this world, and it is true. If you get free welfare, is it really free? All that welfare does is give you false security. If the government gives you a free cell phone, is it really free? They can not track you. If they give you free healthcare, is it really free? Maybe for you, but tax payer dollars that could go to taking care of families that pay those taxes are used to give you free healthcare, so the saying really is true, nothing in this world is free.

Now you may say, this guy hates people on welfare. Well you would be wrong. I grew up on welfare. I grew up when there wasn’t an EBT card and we got booklets of food stamps and that’s all we had to buy food with. I lived in hand me downs, did homework by candle light, and used trash cans to catch rain water to flush toilets. My first color TV I found sitting on the side of the road and used a skateboard to bring it home. It was a floor model and had a horrible picture but it was in color. I don’t hate people that accept welfare, but those that live on welfare are just using the system and taking away from others that otherwise really need it. But isn’t that being a true American?

Now back to the flag issue. The POW/MIA may have been designed to change the minds of the American people, today it stands for so much more. It gives pride and hope to so many and is a constant reminder of those that were captured and lost in combat. Its something that Veterans rally around and a symbol of what has been lost. Yes its beginning maybe harsh, what it has become is so much more and that’s almost anything in America. You can look back on so much of History and see similar comparisons. Almost anything starts from something bad. This country was formed in war and now we protect the world from the same types of war. The Rebel flag may have been surrounded by racism, but today it means southern pride. KIA used to mean Killed In Accidents, but its now known for some of the safest cars and the cool Kia Soul. Everything starts from something almost negative enough to start a movement. Whether that movement is to bring awareness or to make things better for the  movement. The race issues formed the NAACP, with out racism this organization wouldn’t exist. It’s very creation and existence is to help those being repressed by racism and to bring awareness about racism. If racism was to be abolished, again, and there were no more racism, this organization would have no reason to exist.

We learn from History, we don’t use History to attack things in the present that we don’t agree with. We listen to History so we don’t repeat our past. Instead people are using History to destroy are future instead of using the present day issues to strengthen our future. The country is on a slippy slope of evil and the political correctness in this country has completely gotten out of hand. We used to be a strong country, but we are a weak minded country. We have taken a back seat to being bad ass and instead have taken on a new definition of weakness.

I saw this first thing in the Army. When I joined it was “be all you can be”, then it was the “Army of One,” then it became, “Army Strong.” Be all you can be was a drive to form you into an elite soldier, being all that you can be to yourself and to the country. We used to joke about the “Army of One” as all that you can do by yourself and for no one else and that really did go with what was going on in the military. When I joined everyone worked as a team, but it seemed to go down hill a little and team work really wasn’t present. Then the Army Strong came out and it was a strong logo, but the Army behind the scenes were changing. You couldn’t yell at soldiers no more, you could degrade soldiers, and in basic training you were getting stress cards. Some may say all those things are not necessary, I would say your wrong. Its completely necessary to train and create a soldier. Soldiers are born, they are created by Drill Sergeants. Sometimes degrading a soldier helps them learn and they never do it again, yelling at a soldier that has never dealt with stress before is good when its time to handle stress. Training as you fight is how it used to be. You can’t pull a stress card out during combat.

What we have lost in this country is a sense of who we are, why we are here, and what makes us American’s. We have taken everything that makes this country great and degraded it so much that we have nothing left to be proud of. We have also taken over 200 years of fighting, freedom, and the American way of life and flushed it down the toilet for what, for a little safety or to keep are feelings from being hurt. If your feelings are hurt your in the wrong country. This country was founded by hardcore believers in freedom and what it would take to keep us free.

In the end, if your not willing to take a bullet and put your life on the line for the Constitution and the American people, you don’t belong here. That’s what I think being a true American. You don’t have to be a soldier to feel that way. I know plenty of civilians that would be willing to step up and defend this country and sacrifice their life for what this country stands for.

We have lost too much. We need to recover what we have lost and be the United States of American again.

Update

Its been awhile since I have written anything. I want to first apologize to those out there that actually read what I write. Sometimes you write about life and other times, life gets in the way from you writing about it.

So what have I been up too. Well the first thing is finishing my degree. I received a phone call from my college a few weeks ago informing me that I’m about to graduate. They were shocked that I was shocked to hear that I was about to graduate. Told them that I just take the classes they tell me to take and when its over it’s over, mail me my degree. So in October I will be completed with phase 2 of my education and then a break until the 1st of the year and then on to work on my masters in Business Communications. Its been an interesting ride since April when I decided to change my major to go the political route.

I’ve had to transform myself and my knowledge from Information Technology into Political knowledge. It hasn’t been hard, the new classes are mainly on ethics and because its a concentration on military science its been a lot of history classes, which I love. What it has done is bring out those old qualities that I learned in the Military and have helped reshape some of my views and strengthen many of them.

What else have I been doing? Well, building new relationships with other Veterans, taking care of personal stuff in my life that seemed to get pushed to the side as I have been fighting for Veterans issues, and just spending more time with my family and kids.

I’m still on the front lines with the VA, still fighting for what I believe is right and what I see as fair. As from previous post I did get my Disability increased to 80% because of the added PTSD which has somehow pushed the VA to treat me differently. I get many calls now, I also get appointments that either I didn’t know about or didn’t ask for, but you can’t complain when its the next day instead of 3 months out. I’m still fighting for an increase on my Post Thrombotic Syndrome, I feel that affects my life more than my PTSD and is one of the main reasons for my PTSD. Its hard to overcome PTSD when everyday is a constant reminder of why you have it in the first place. Still no answers to why I have the condition and still no answers for the future except take pills and hope for the best. I’m not shooting for 100% as I know I can still work in some capacity and I know I won’t get that for awhile. I know I can work, just would like to not be in constant pain while I do it and not have to fight through it each day.

As for Veterans, we are still fighting. The Accountability act made it through the House and soon I pray through the Senate. There have been stories saying Obama will Veto it and I am sure that’s not going to be the smartest thing to do. But we will still fight. The military didn’t train us to give up and they didn’t train us to not fight. The did train us to do what is right legally and morally and that’s what we are doing. We wouldn’t fight for a cause that wasn’t.

As for the CVA, they are pushing along and slowly growing into a larger organization and as no surprise, they are gaining more and more attention as a leader in the fight for Veterans rights. I’m proud to say I support them and have been along for the ride. I hope more Veterans stand up and hang on for the ride and support his organization, because they have our best interest at heart.

As for me, I’m moving forward and will continue to fight and will post again when I have more updates on my health, the VA, and anything else I feel my readers need to know.

Next Chapter

Well many of you have been reading my post and have learned a lot about my struggles with military life, post military life, my medical issues and my continued fight for reason from the VA and my continued fight for Veterans. Good news came to me just a year after my first issues with the PHX VA. I finally received word from my claims that I had put in back in February of this year. First it was an email asking form my dependents information so knowing they are asking mean that I was at least 30%. That made me happy as it would open new doors for me. As the day went on I kept checking my online profile to see what or if anything had changed. It wasn’t until Saturday that I logged in and to my surprise I was awarded 80% disability for the claims that I submitted in February. I was so excited that I told a few very close friends and initially it said 100%, but it changed as they removed some disabilities and renamed a few. So I’m sitting at 80%.

Now many would be jumping with joy and excited, because to me and many others, its a game changer and a life changer. To me the added financial increase will offset many things that I pay for out of pocket and it puts me in a new bracket. After I told some other people many were relieved and said, “well now its time to focus on other things.” But that’s the thing. As I am happy with the increase I am not happy of how it increased. None of the pressing life threatening issues that disable me on a daily basis had increased and I am currently waiting for the appeals to show up in the mail so that I can read how they could come to that with all the current issues that I have. What was added and increased was my PTSD. My anxiety and depression warranted a 70% disability and that truly opened my eyes to no only the issues I have making them real, but the issue with the system. Plus my wrist issues were addressed and increased to 10% and my knee that I have been told I need surgery on didn’t change, but the name of what it is changed. Plus several other additions were added that were part of my knee.

Like I said I am happy that I am at 80%, but still to be denied an increase for the disabilities that affect my life on a day to day basis is still unacceptable, especially since everyone says there is nothing else they can do for me. So I will continue this fight and resubmit my claims, considering that during my Claims appointment, there was no mention of or talking about my Blood Clotting disorder or my back. It all pertained to my PTSD, knee, and wrist. So I am hoping they don’t close out this claim and I am seen for those issues soon.

Now many of you might think I’m trying to milk the cow and if you know me you know that’s not true. A few have said that I am just trying to get to 100% so I don’t have to work anymore. Again, if you know me, you know that’s not true. I love to work and would go crazy if I couldn’t be a productive citizen. I honestly still think they are dodging the real issue and that’s how I contracted this disorder. Still have no answers to how I got it and why its so aggressive.

But I will tell you I learned a lot about the VA during this process and how the claims works. I also understand more now that you may have a VSO, but you still have to do all the work and be aggressive and keep on task with your claims. This is what has helped me get this claim mainly closed within 5 months and an increase on my disabilities. If you don’t know where to start let me know and I can point you in the right direction. If there is anything I have learned during this process and don’t take no for an answer, there’s always another opinion, take your health into your own hands and don’t let the VA control it, and the more evidence you have the better, if you know your have something, but don’t have the records contact old colleagues and get signed affidavits. Make sure if you use an outside doctor you get copies to give to the VA. Don’t give up and keep fighting. Its your life and your health and no one is going to fix it but you. We can’t depend on the VA to make all the right choices so we have to do it on our own. VSO’s are mainly just a place holder. I get a monthly update and that’s it.

So to all my Veteran friends that need help, I am here for you if you need questions answered or pointed in the right direction. I also know some great folks that work for the VA that can help, yes there are a few. Once you understand who to actually complain too, your process will be smoother. Any Veterans that read this and are interested in getting involved, contact me or reach out to your local Concerned Veterans for America. I don’t think I would be where I am now if it wasn’t for their strength and ability to put the fight back in me. Visit my site for more information on CVA and other way you can help as a Veteran or as someone that just loves this country. We can’t do it alone.

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