March 13, 2015

Is there a cure for Hepatitis C?

Many veteran's suffer from Hepatitis C. A horrible disease with no cure, until maybe now.

A few weeks ago I met and discussed Hepatitis C with a Bristol drug representative who discussed how the new Hep C medicines were actually curing people with Hep C.

The following article discusses some of what the represenative stated

Therefore, if you have Hepatitis C, see your doctor and discuss this new line of treatments. If you have Hep C and you have been denied your service-connection benefits, please contact us at:

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March 6, 2015

179 Years ago Today, the Alamo and all of the Defenders Fell

Today, the Alamo fell to the Mexican Army under the command of General Santa Ana.

After holding off a far numerically superior army for 13 days the final assault began shortly after midnight. Using darkness and a calm the Mexican army crept close to the Alamo, and at approximately 0530 began the final assault. By 0630 all the Texican forces, defenders of liberty were dead.

The Texas defenders and Army, however, won the war 6 weeks later as Gen. Sam Houston defeated Gen. Santa Ana and his army at San Jacinto, TX.

All Texans know of the Alamo, and the bravery of the men and women in the Alamo. Those same principles of bravery, service to others, and patriotism live on in today's men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The saying time flys is so true. In the last few months the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. has lost some great friends and clients.

All of us here wish to say God Speed and prayers are with you and your family to:
Mr. Ben Liano, USN
Rev. Don Davitz, USAF

You will be missed, and I thank you for your service, dedication, love of the U.S. and your sacrifice. Bob

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November 5, 2014

2014 Veterans Day Free Meals and Discounts

The following list was sent to us by one of our good friends, Chip Beazley, of Alabama.

We take pride the members of the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. are all military veterans or the spouse of a veteran.

As such we wish each and every active duty, veteran, and their family members our thanks and hope the list below allows you to enjoy Veteran's Day.

The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C., salutes all veterans and thanks you for your sacrifice.

Continue reading "2014 Veterans Day Free Meals and Discounts" »

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November 3, 2014

Veterans Day 2014 Concert


The Morton Ranch High School Choir (Katy) will be presenting a:

Veteran’s Day Concert on

Sunday, November 9 at 3:00 pm in the Morton Ranch High School Performing Arts Center,

21000 Franz Road, Katy.

Enjoy, The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. thanks all veterans on this Veterans Day, and everyday for you and your families' sacrifice defending our nation and our liberty.

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May 26, 2014

Wishing you a safe and reflective Memorial Day

The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. wishes you a safe, reflective , and peaceful Memorial Day.

Thank you to our veterans. Serving is difficult for both the service member and their families. We thank you and your families. The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. fights every day to help veterans obtain their benefits earned through their courage and sacrifice.

If you or a veteran you know needs help obtaining their benefits contact the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C.,

God Bless you, and thank you.

Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C.

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May 24, 2014

VA Health Care system to allow veterans to go to private providers

On Saturday, May 24th, 2014, Sec. Shinseki announced the besieged VA Health Care system is making changes to allow some veterans to obtain treatment at private facilities.

This link is to an article published on Saturday, May 24th, 2014,

As soon as the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. obtains the official information we will post it.

Thank you.

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April 28, 2014

VA's Benefits Phone: 1-800-827-1000

Several years ago the VA lumped all VA Regional Offices into 8 call centers to handle all the calls from anywhere in the nation.

Because you may think you are talking to your Regional Office, I wanted to explain what you need to know about this number:

What calling 1-800-827-1000, mean to you. Let's say you are calling the Benefits line at 1-800-827-1000, from San Diego, CA. The assumption is you think you are calling the Regional Office handling your claim, correct? Wrong.

Instead of getting the Los Angeles VARO, you are getting a call center. The call center can only tell you what is on their screen. The information on the screen is often incorrect and not up-to-date.

Thus, the information you receive from the call center is not the information from someone who is getting up and looking at your folder. Unfortunately, without accurate information that may be contained in your claims file the information you receive from a call center may not be accurate. The call centers were implemented to save VA time.

The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. provides Legal assistance to veterans seeking their VA disability benefits after the VA has denied their claims in whole or in part.

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February 20, 2014

Our Past Defines Our Future

At the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C.,, we have been going through a transition. Changes are sometimes very good, and in this case our changes are very good.
The biggest change has been the addition of the newest member of our staff. That member is me! My name is Hans Goss, and I am a U.S. Army veteran. I was in the U.S. Army for four and a half years, and served as an Airborne Infantryman in the 82nd Airborne. My deployments were to Haiti and Iraq. I am very proud of my service to our country, and like everyone at the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C., I am a veteran or a dependent of a veteran. I am currently working towards becoming a lawyer. As it stands I am a proud member of this law firm dedicated to helping all veterans in every way I can. I will also be leading the Firms blogs from the position of a new veteran, with the goal of providing insight into the VA system that is not only helpful, but easy to navigate.

Today’s blog will begin with the story of how the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C.,, came to be and how we will proceed in the future.

It all started with a dream. Robert B. Goss,, knew from the time he was born his dream was to fly. He never really felt like walking on the ground with his 'legs' suited him. Being raised in Houston, TX he would ride his bicycle miles weekly after school or on the weekend for years to Hull Airport (now Sugarland Airport) in Sugar Land, TX to watch the planes soar around the pattern performing countless touch-n-gos. If he was lucky a pilot would let him look inside the airplane. He would sit, and stare in amazement knowing one day he would be the high flying ace of the sky he so admired. Unlike most childhood dreams he didn't lose sight of his goal of being a pilot. At the age of 16, he soloed his first plane. This event also was the beginning of an adventure that defines the rest of his life. Getting his pilot license was simply step one. Now he set out on a path to become a true pilot, and that meant making it a profession. After years of hard work he graduated from Texas A&M with his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Aerospace Engineering, even against all pleadings of his father who wanted him to go to medical school. With his Masters of Science degree he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force to be a pilot.
Although FAR qualified at Undergraduate Pilot Training, his flight Commander inspired him to choose the B-52, as the B-1 was slated to join the Air Force. He spent most of his career flying B-52s, and running missions all over the world. Through his career he had four children, and traveled to countries he never dreamed he would visit. It was all a grand adventure, and yet the happiness didn't last forever. Almost entirely over night his life seemed to have spun out of control due to a service injury. In less than 2 weeks his vision was lost, due to lasers he had encountered in his travels. These injuries led to eventually blindness for multiple periods of time.
The vision disabilities along with many other disabilities career pilots suffer were present when Bob retired after almost 21 years of service. As the VA Vocational and Rehabilitation Counselor noted, “he could not find an airline who would hire a blind pilot.”
At retirement many variables existed, and many obstacles had to be overcome. Bob took inspiration from David Byrne of Montgomery, AL, who was Bob’s attorney, and Dr. Michael Lambert, who prior to becoming a world renowned Vitreous Retina Surgeon had also been a pilot who was grounded. Bob saw he could continue serving his fellow veterans and service members by assisting them get their VA benefits.
Not willing to sit on his retirement and serve out his days at a VA home, he promptly learned of the VA’s pattern of denial and impeding VA claims after retirement. He had been blinded in service, and the doctors stated the claim seemed pretty straight forward. Along with other common issues pilots had such as back problems due to G-forces and other service injuries the grant of VA disabilities seemed pretty cut and dry.
The VA, however, loves to deny or grant the minimum. That is why after he received an initial 20% denial letter he was in shock. The VA had claimed that, somehow, his blindness was a preexisting injury. He contested that he was a pilot, and they wouldn't let a blind man fly planes in the military. After dealing with the VAs obvious disregard for himself as a valid recipient of disability a new dream started burning in his heart. He saw that someone needed to help veterans receive the benefits they had earned. So he fought back, and in the process went to law school at the Cumberland School of Law of Samford University to receive his Jurist Doctorate (J.D.) in law. Knowing he needed more he continued to the University of Houston Law Center to obtain two more degrees, Master of Laws. Many battles, and long nights later the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. opened at 5100 Westheimer Rd, in Houston, Texas.
Mr. Goss became the first full-time Lawyer certified by the VA to practice Veterans Law in Houston. His mission has always been to help veterans seek the benefits they earned from years of service. All of the members of the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. are either disabled veterans, spouses of disabled veterans, or me a veteran beginning his claims for VA benefits due to the standard injuries that paratroopers endure.

My hope is this article illustrates how much our hearts are intertwined into helping the veteran obtain the benefits they have earned, and why our passion is so strong. Now that we have been able to look at how we started we have to look at how we can evolve.
First, our core values continue to guide the Firm, “The Law Office of Robert B. Goss is committed to fighting injustice on behalf of the individual.” Our goal is to help veterans obtain the VA benefits they have earned and positively change veterans lives.
To provide veterans a location for resources for benefits and information, we have launched Facebook and Google+ pages, and of course we will be more active on this blog.
These post and resources will bring prevalent news about the VA, veteran’s benefits and changes to you. The goal is to bring attention to the issues we see with Court rulings, laws the VA proposes or implements, and legislation applicable to veterans and service members.
To assist new veterans I will document the VA benefits process. I will blog about my experiences with the VA in getting my GI bill, and also my experiences with obtaining my VA disability benefits. I hope that my personal experiences will help some people more than just the black and white of a paper telling you what to do, and how to do it. I plan to keep my experiences up to date on as much news that is effecting vets around the country. Additionally I will direct the Firm to post to our Facebook, and Google+ pages as additional resources.

In conclusion, as the only Army veteran among the sea of Air Force blue at the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. I will bring resources and help to veterans with a unique perspective of ground troops and their injuries. Though the Law Office of Robert B. Goss P.C. is a law firm our hope is we give back more than just legal help. We want to reach our brothers and sisters in arms giving them another resource to make their life as a vet easier. Thank you for your service.

Thank you for your time.

Hans Goss

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December 30, 2013

To all the Veterans and Future Veterans - God Bless you.

To all who have served and their families - - Thank you for your service. We have included a video that says it all without saying a word. Hoping you enjoy this video and to those who served or have been the family or a service member you will understand.

For veterans needing assistance obtaining their VA disability benefits The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. is here to help you get the benefits you have earned serving our nation.

God Bless you and Happy 2014, from all of us at the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C.

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July 29, 2013

Col. Bud Day, MOH - - May God Cradle you and comfort your family

The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. http://WWW.ATTORNEYFORVETERANS.COM wishes to express our condolenses to the family and friends of Col. George "Bud" Day.

July 28, 2013, Col. Day passed away after a long illness.

Col. Day was a true hero and a man I greatly admired. He helped friends of mine as an attorney, he fought for veterans all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court that denied a Writ of Certiorari. The case involved fighting to protect veteran's right to free health care. See

Col. Day became an attorney after he returned from Vietnam, where he was held as a P.O.W. for 5.5 years. His torture left Col. Day unable to return to the cockpit, so he transitioned to the legal profession as a licensed attorney. A journey I too took.

I was honored to have met Colonel Day at the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College during the Gathering of Eagles week. I remember him as a nice leader, modest Colonel, who was a true hero and inspiration. The following link is to Col. Day's Official Air University Biography: .

Praying for Col. Day and his family.

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June 6, 2013

Remember June 6, 1944, D-Day

Today is the 69th anniversary of the invasion of France to liberate Europe from the Nazis.

This week I mentioned D-Day was Thursday. One of our young secretaries stated she did not know about D-Day.

D-Day for WW II was on June 6, 1944. D-Day is the day the Allies launched the largest military operation, at the time, to free France and all of Europe from the Nazi occupation. This week the U.S. Senate lost their last World War II (WW II) veteran, Sen. Lautenberg. He served in the Army Signal Corps from 1942-46. After separating from the Army Sen. Lautenberg used the GI Bill to earn an economics degree and eventually serve New Jersey as a U.S. Senator.

Education benefits are one of the benefits veterans earn by serving their country. See

The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, PC, hopes all Americans and free people stop and reflect on the sacrifices of the WW II veterans, their families, and all veterans and their families since WW I.

God Bless you all.

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March 25, 2013

Military Retiree’s are Veterans Too - - Contact Congress and OPPOSE TRICARE fee increases

For those of you who have served, you know this Fact - - Military Retirees are Veterans. But it seems with Sequestration upon the United States, the Department of Defense at the urging of the White House has a solution - - have Military Retirees pay MORE IN TRICARE FEES.

Why raise TRICARE fees because of my favorite White House word “fairness.” The whole idea pushed for Obamacare was fairness for those without health care. But the WH states Military Retiree’s Health Care costs are not fair compared to the public.

But is it fair to give free health care to those who do nothing? And then conversely argue it is fair to force Veterans who are Military Retirees (remember Military Retirees include veterans who were medically retired due to Injuries) to pay ever increasing TRICARE fees. TRICARE raised all fees in 2012. No - - The proposal to keep raising TRICARE fees on the back of veterans is not fair.

Military Retirees are veterans WHO EARNED their Health Care. The attack on veterans health care has been on-going, but now is actually making it more difficult for veterans to keep their health care. Back in 2002, Col. Bud Day, Medal of Honor Recipient, argued for WW II and Korean veterans to receive their Health Care as promised. Raising fees for Military Retirees, i.e. Veterans, will take away earned health care and property, money, from veterans.

Military Retirees - - contact your Senators and Member of the Congressional House to stop this fleecing of Veterans who are Military Retirees. Military Retirees, who again are Veterans, EARNED their HEALTH CARE “rights” by 20+ years of service or by being medically retired due to a service-connected injury, event, or disease caused while protecting the United States. All U.S. citizens need to OPPOSE the White House’s attempt AGAIN to raise your TRICARE fees.

The White House and politicians change the dialogue. Instead of hearing a succinct statement of the truth that

The White House has decided Military Retirees with 20 years of service and medically retired service members who are both veteran’s are not deserving of low cost health insurance, as those in this country illegally are more deserving.
Military Retirees are presumed to opposed Democrats and Illegal’s are presumed to support Democrats. Therefore the WH proposes to RAISE TRICARE fees while at the same time pushing Obamacare to those who have not served.

Thus, the WH's position is that Charging Veteran's More for their Earned Health Care is more fair because this provides another means to generate revenue for the United States. Private Health insurance fees are NOT EQUIVALENT to Military Retiree's fees, because military service is NOT EQUIVALENT to Public or even Political service.

The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C., strongly opposes any fee increase on Veteran's for their EARNED Health Care.

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March 12, 2013

Any Veteran may render a hand salute - -

- - As the the U.S. Flag passes and also during the playing of the National Anthem.

This law was passed in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008. Specifically National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 sec 595 changes 36 U.S.C. section 301(b)(1) to read:

(b) Conduct During Playing.— During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

As a veteran you are allowed and earned the right to salute the flag, or render a saluate during the National Anthem. The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. salutes and THANKS YOU for serving out Nation.

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March 6, 2013

Military Lending Act modified providing a Private Cause of Action to Service Members and their Dependents

On January 3, 2013, Title 10. Section 987(f) of the U.S. Code was amended to provide protection for service members and their dependents regarding credit, arbitration, and limiting interest rates. This amendment provides service members and their dependents a private cause of action against lenders who violate the Military Lending Act.

The Military Lending Act law was amended in H.R. 4310, the "National Defense Authorization Act."

The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. is honored to assist our service members, veterans, and their dependents.

To read the amendment creating the Private Cause of Action read on:

Continue reading "Military Lending Act modified providing a Private Cause of Action to Service Members and their Dependents" »

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January 18, 2013

VA wait times for Claims continues to Increase

The GAO on January 18, 2013, confirmed the average wait time for a claim to be processed has increased. In 2009 the VA took an Average of 161 days. In 2012 the processing time jumped to 260 days.

Appeals - - over 2/3rd of all claims were backlogged.

If you are appealing a VA claim, contact us for help.

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November 28, 2012

How to ensure you Will lose your claim for VA disability benefits

First, fail to make a claim for a benefit. The VA is not responsible for any disability that you may have if you do not make a claim. No claim = no benefits. And no not filing a claim will not allow you to get 50 years of back pay worth millions as you were injured in Korea and have waited 50 years to file the claim.

To make a claim go to;EBEN_JSESSIONID=m1SvSLWJhPpWCm63hzmvhJpNgkTKvHGN2Cy955KbJ9SR2TnhDjTy!740092564!2104263516?_nfpb=true&_nfxr=false&_pageLabel=Apply and fill out a VA Form 526 (click apply for benefits), then click on Apply for Veterans Benefits at

Second, ignore any VA requests for information and only send back responses telling the VA how stupid they are. Yes people do this, and then expect the VA employee to help them.

Be respectful, you are the expert in your case, and you know or should know where the disability occurred. You may be the key to proving the disability. Just like in a Civil Court matter evidence is required. You must make sure your claims are supported by evidence. Attorneys know how to gather evidence and support claims with evidence.

Third, count on the VA to gather all information regarding your disability.

Fourth, do not answer C&P examiners questions. Do Correct any false statements made during the C&P examination by the VA or QTC examiner.

Fifth, fake the severity of the injury during the exam. Once you become not credible the VA can deny your claim.

Sixth, miss your C&P or other VA examinations. The VA by regulations is authorized to deny any claim where the veteran misses an examination.

I have written this article to point out mistakes veterans make in applying for VA benefits. Some veterans have been told or use the above errors as their approach to obtaining VA benefits. Honesty and working on your case with your attorney is the best way to win your claims.

The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. is available to assist you with you VA disability claims If you have filed a claim for VA disability benefits, and denied those benefits, and first filed a notice of disagreement on or after June 20, 2007, and your claim is still on appeal. Please contact our office for assistance with obtaining your VA Benefits at

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November 21, 2012

Lay Statements

Lay statements are any statements made by the veteran, family members, friends, neighbors, or service buddies who make an oral statement during a hearing, or make a written declaration or written statement (preferably an affidavit signed and notarized under oath) regarding the veterans disability.

Lay statements refer statements made by people lacking professional medical expertise, laypersons, or people who are not medical professionals, and therefore cannot make medical diagnosis or prove medical facts.

But as anyone knows there are many things that a lay person can observe, such as seeing the veteran bleeding, seeing the veteran injured, seeing the veteran walking with a limp, or describing the laypersons observations and so forth. This may even include stating a diagnosis a medical professional told the layperson. A layperson cannot provide a diagnosis of diabetes, but the layperson can document the diagnosis a medical provider stated to the veteran or the layperson.

Lay statements are useful to document events that a person who is not a medical provider observed regarding the veteran. These lay statements can fill in missing information. The more factual the statements the better.

The Federal Circuit in Jandreau v. Nicholson, 492 F.3d 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2007), stated there are times a lay person is competent to testify to a medical condition.

Jandreau held:

[l]ay evidence can be competent and sufficient to establish a diagnosis of a condition when (1) a lay person is competent to identify the medical condition, (2) the layperson is reporting a contemporaneous medical diagnosis, or (3) lay testimony describing symptoms at the time supports a later diagnosis by a medical professional.

If you have been denied a claim, and filed your first notice of disagreement (NOD) on or after June 20, 2007, please contact the Law Office of Robert B Goss, P.C. for assistance in appealing your denial.

Continue reading "Lay Statements" »

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November 14, 2012

Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

MST is a polite way of describing a viscous attack and event -- Rape.

38 U.S.C.S. § 1720D(d) defines Sexual trauma as: “psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a mental health professional employed by the [VA], resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery [touching] of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment.” “Sexual harassment” is defined as “repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.”

The VA has been denying numerous MST claims for veterans, prior to hiring The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. This is often due to the victim not reporting the MST.

You need to know there are programs available, even before you have been granted MST. MST is claimed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and MST. Hiring an attorney once the VA has denied your claim is a good start.

Help available from the VA:
First under 38 U.S.C.S. § 1720D, and VHA Directive 2010-033 (Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Programming) (July 14, 2010), the VA provides treatment for BOTH women and men who were victims of MST.

Under this program, veterans who have been victimized, do not have to meet the length of service commitments required for VA compensation to receive VA counseling and care. Nor do you have to wait for the VA to grant your disability claim to start receiving VA treatment.

Public Law 106-117 requires the VA to make counseling, care and services mandatory rather than discretionary to veterans who have been victims of MST.

If you have been a victim of MST and have been denied by the VA please contact The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. at

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November 8, 2012

Thank you to all veterans Veterans Day 2012 Deals and PBS Special

Thank you to all veterans, U.S & Allies

In my house I have a W.W. I picture of my Grandfather, Howard, sitting cross-legged in the front row of an Army Unit photo taken in France on Armistice Day 1918. He was a great grandfather and man. My grandfather only left Iowa to go to war, and much later in the 1960-70s when my Grandmother made him go to Florida for winters. He is a veteran. I received this photo when Grandpa died back in 1980.

From American Heritage dictionary, Veteran’s Day is defined as:

November 11, observed in the United States in honor of veterans of the armed services and in commemoration of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918. In 1954 it was renamed from Armistice Day and given the added significance of honoring veterans.

I and all at the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. want to thank all the men and women who have served our nation. Sometimes I get a call from a veteran who was injured in basic training, and this person is shy or embarrassed about seeking VA benefits. They have NO REASON to be embarrassed - - they are a veteran. I am proud to try to help them with their VA benefits claim.

This person is a veteran - - they raised their right hand and joined the United States Military. This person did what over 95% of the U.S. citizens never do - - they offered themselves to protect and serve the United States by enlisting or being drafted into the U.S. Military.

My son, Hans, is a paratrooper. I served almost 21 years as a USAF pilot. We both have gone to war. Millions of men and women serve in combat and non-combat. All are veterans. All should be honored. Maybe just say Thank you to your veteran.

Serving is difficult. Serving is an honor & privilege.

I remember spending many years away from the U.S. Away from my family and kids. Living in a tent in the desert during the war. Living in a beautiful villa in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, while the bad guys were trying to kill us. Flying airplanes all over the world.

My Grandfather talked to me about the military – to make sure I knew it was not all glamorous. He wanted to make sure I understood it was not like a John Wayne movie. He was concerned for his grandson. Veterans know things.

My Uncle Pete, Battle of the Bulge veteran, spoke to me too. My cousin Melodie told me she was a little jealous her Dad had spoken to me about the military, as he never spoke to her about the war. Veterans speak to other veterans. There are a lot of things, however, veterans know others will not understand. I have 5 childhood friends I occasionally get to say hi, a few college friends, a bunch of law school friends, and a lot of military friends, both allies and U.S., I talk to.

I do not talk a lot about the wars, but with my USAF and USN friend, Vince, & my old EWO, Moe, they know it all. I talk to them weekly, and they know when I just need to talk. Seldom do we talk about the past. Serving together, however, showed me their character and integrity. I trusted them with my life and vice-verse and still do.

All veterans, no matter how short or long their service were there to protect the country and protect other people’s freedom of speech and freedom. All veterans deserve to be protected and receive VA benefits available to them

20121107205318ENPRNPRN-CAPITAL-CONCERTS-NATL-SALUTE-TO-VETERANS-90-4-1352321598MR.jpg As a veteran, I am very grateful to Gary Sinise , and Joe Mantegna for all they do to honor veterans and wounded warriors.

If you are a veteran, be proud you did what so few do, you served and protected us all. For others say hi and thanks to a veteran - that means a lot. It is nice to know you care.

To assist you in locating other businesses who honor veterans this November 11, 2012, please see

Thank you to our veterans. The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. is honored to help our veterans.

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November 7, 2012

What is a Service-Connected disability?

In-service disability
First, you must have a disease, injury, or event that occurred during service that resulted in a disability. Or you had a preexisting disability that was aggravated by service.

Examples of a knee disability from service may include: injuring your knee during unit sports, knees were hurt in a car crash during service (on-base accident or an IED explosion), or injured your knee in combat during combat operations (jumped over a cliff during a mortar attack, slamming your knee into something during combat operations).

Stated another way any injury that occurred coincident with your service and was not the result of willful misconduct, and is chronic (does not really go away), may be considered as a service-connected disability.

Incurring an injury years after service is not a service-connected injury.

Wow, that is all that is needed - - not so fast. The VA will look at the injury and determine if it is chronic and connected.

Examples of a disease in service are multiple sclerosis (MS) or any disease that occurred during your active-duty service, and in some cases reserve duty, resulting in a disability.

Aggravated Preexisting disability
An example of an aggravated disability is you had asthma prior to entering service, were assigned to a facility where people smoked, resulting in a worsening of your asthma.

Examples of an event is witnessing a terrible situation (death, traumatic stressor [combat]), being raped also referred to as Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

Medical evidence, usually in your service treatment records is required to substantiate the in-service disability. An exception is for combat veterans, since treatment records are often nonexistent in a combat zone. Or your disability is falls within a presumptive time period or the symptoms and Chronicity can be connected to service.

That brings us to the second element discussed here, nexus.

Nexis — connection
You need a connection between your present disability and the in-service disability.

Current Disability
This element is the easiest, as you have a current disability. However, if you have a condition that no longer exists then you do not have a current disability.

Examples of a veteran not having a current disability are tonsillectomies in service, removal of gallbladder in service (although scarring and muscle damage may exist as separate claims), or your injury no longer exists (muscle sprain as an example that healed).

Presumptive Period
This is a general explanation of what a service-connected disability requires. There are numerous exceptions to Service-connected disabilities. Such as the presumptive period, for instance, if you claim a disease or injury, within the first year after separation from service, this may be considered having occurred during service.

Certain diseases have a longer presumptive periods than the 365 days after separation, such as Agent Orange diseases, multiple sclerosis, and numerous other diseases.

If you filed a claim, have been denied by the VA, and have a current notice of disagreement filed for the first time after June 20, 2007, please contact our office for assistance.

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November 7, 2012

Protection afforded Veterans and their VA benefits.

Know your Rights!

VA benefits are protected from creditors, taxation, and other legal processes.

With the extremely long delay in obtaining VA benefits from the VA, many veterans face tremendous and crippling medical bills.

This blog will help you know your rights, and protect your VA benefit payments. Please see Threats and constant calls from creditors and even advice from non-VA accredited attorneys may compel veterans to make unwise decisions regarding their VA benefits.

One of my veterans desperately e-mailed me stating his bankruptcy attorney was going to include his VA disability payments as an asset that a hospital could collect and garnish. This advice is incorrect. The veteran just wanted to have the creditor stop calling.

Continue reading "Protection afforded Veterans and their VA benefits." »

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October 31, 2012

What is the difference between a C&P exam by QTC and an examination at a VA Medical Center?

QTC is a contractor for the VA that performs medical examinations for the VA.

VA medical professionals who perform C&P examinations are VA health care providers whose sole job is to perform compensation and pension examinations for veterans seeking disability benefits. Their job is to evaluate veteran's medical conditions and write a report documenting those findings. This report is sent to the VA disability rating officer.

My personal opinion is if you can be seen by a VA medical professional, over a QTC examiner that is a much better evaluation. Numerous clients call me complaining about their QTC examinations.

Do not yell, or get into any type of an argument with either a QTC or a VA employee. However, if an examiner makes a false statement, correct them immediately. THEN after you leave the examination document your complaints and call your attorney.

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October 24, 2012

What to do when the VA calls you and you have hired an attorney.

Recently, several of my clients informed me that a VA employee called them directly. The VA personnel made it sound that if the veteran did not answer the questions that the VA person wanted to ask, then this same VA person “was going to close the veteran’s claim.”

You hired an attorney to provide you with legal advice and guidance - - use the attorney and the Law Firm.

Tell the VA employee you have an attorney, and provide your attorney's phone number to the VA employee. Tell the VA employee to contact your attorney.

If this were a civil litigation case, the opposing side could be held in contempt and sanctions placed against them. This issue of VA employees calling a represented veteran directly has been brought forth to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Essentially, the VA is trying to get you to agree to something that will help the VA. Your answer may or may not help you.

Having your attorney know what is asked and providing the correct answer is best.

Continue reading "What to do when the VA calls you and you have hired an attorney." »

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October 23, 2012

CHL – Texas Concealed Handgun License Application Procedures

In response to numerous veterans asking how to obtain a CHL, The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. is providing the following information based upon your veteran status and attempt to aid veterans obtain a benefit they earned (reduced fee for CHL).

If you have any questions regarding obtaining a CHL in the Houston area please contact:
Mr. Mark Giordonello (Mr. G) at 281-980-9103. Mr. Giordonello has agreed to talk and assist veterans, if possible, who are seeking their CHL.

Additionally, there are many CHL Instructors, but in the Houston area if you call Mr. G. and you like his approach you can arrange a date and time for training.

If you are interested in obtaining your CHL read on:

Continue reading "CHL – Texas Concealed Handgun License Application Procedures" »

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May 28, 2012

Thank you to All the Active Duty, Veterans, and their Families!

Memorial Day, is a federal holiday observed annually in the United States on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. When you wake in the morning, say a quick prayer for those who have given their lives so that you might be allow to pray.

Thank you to all the veterans, active duty, their families who also serve and fear for their loved one. I can attest, the kids and family are also serving and deserve to be thanked for their sacrifices.

To Cynthia, Hans, Victoria, and Christopher, thank you - - I love you and THANK YOU for all you gave to me and this country through your sacrifices.

And to my paratrooper, Hans, Really really you learned from observing a pilot that jumping out of perfectly good airplanes is what a pilot taught you? LOL. :)

Happy Memorial Day to all the Veterans and their Families


Happy Memorial Day 2012

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November 17, 2011

Ninth Court of Appeals to hear enbanc Veterans for Common Sense v. Shinseki, Case Number 08-16728, Decided May 10, 2011

The Ninth Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the appeal of Veterans for Common Sense v. Shinseki.

A Panel originally ruled the VA is violating the Due Process Clause.

To hear the oral argument presented to the United States Court of Appeals, Nith Circuit, Hearing Date: 08/12/2009, see

For help with your VA appeal please contact the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. at

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September 6, 2011

VA's electronic informed consent pads — Never sign a form you have not read and understand!


Any form that you sign for a medical procedure becomes a legal document certifying that you have read and understand every single issue that may result from this procedure. Death and injury may occur from a medical procedure. For instance, anesthesiology is a very risky and dangerous process and medical procedure — that is required for many operations.

The informed consent will list death as a possible result of this procedure. Once you sign that electronic pad / form, you are acknowledging that you understand and accepted any risks, and you have determined the benefit of the operation / procedure outweigh any risks you have been "informed." The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. can assist you, see

But the VA told me its normal procedure just to sign the electronic pad — where I cannot read the informed consent — the VA is required to provide you a paper copy before you sign this document. Again, this electronic system is in response to the HIPAA Laws or the electronic patient information mandate.

If something bad were to happen to you during a medical procedure, the defense you did not see what you are signing when you signed the electronic pad is not going to protect you. You may be barred (stopped) from recovering any damages against the health care provider or medical facility.

More importantly, informed consent is there to protect you. The words "informed consent" mean exactly that - - You are granting the physician the right to conduct the operation or procedure on your body knowing full well all of the possibilities for the outcome of this operation or procedure.

Informed consent Is a legal document to protect you. Any hospital is required to show you a written informed consent prior to you signing an electronic pad. Your electronic signature will be translated into the document.

Do not accepted a statement, that they will have to retrieve the form. Do not sign an electronic pad without knowing full well what you are signing. Yes — this means making the person requesting you sign go get the paper copy of the informed consent.

Protect yourself — know what you are signing. Consent only if you are properly informed and agree to the risks and Understand the medical operation or procedure. See for a short explanation of informed consent.

Continue reading "VA's electronic informed consent pads — Never sign a form you have not read and understand!" »

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June 28, 2011

Houston Area Military Families - -Record a Video for your deployed service-member

For Houston-area Military Family and friends - - record a video message for your deployed loved one - - for July 4th, 2011.

WHAT: Record a FREE family video message to your military loved one

WHEN: JULY 2, 2011 - 9:30 a.m. til 2 p.m.

WHERE: Omni Hotel, I-10 @ Eldridge, Houston
13210 N. Eldridge Pkwy

CONTACT: Set Your Appointment now…
Or Call:713-331-1894


And Thank you for your Service to our Country ALSO, Happy 4th of July, Bob

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May 16, 2011

Fire Destroyed Records - - What to do?

An issue that comes up, unfortunately way too frequently, is a veteran's records were destroyed in 1973 at the St. Louis fire at the National Personnel Records Center. For information on how to contact the National Personnel Records Center see my link under my Helpful Resources and National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis at the bottom of this page

VA Regional Offices often deny a claim based upon "They (VA) could not obtain the records, and they were destroyed in a Fire at the NPRC." Then the next 7 states that it is the veteran's responsibility to obtain the records. One of the requirements to obtain a VA disability rating is to provide evidence that a disease, injury, or event occurred in service creating a disability that continues to this day.

Continue reading "Fire Destroyed Records - - What to do?" »

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May 11, 2011

Veterans for Commonsense (VCS) v. Shinseki, 9th Cir., 08-16728

The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in case number 08-16728 found for the Veterans (VCS, a second veterans group, and veterans) and concluded:


The United States Constitution confers upon veterans and their surviving relatives a right to the effective provisions of mental health care and to the just and timely adjudication of their claims for health care and service-connected death and disability benefits. Although the terms of the Administrative Procedure Act preclude Veterans from obtaining relief in our court for their statutory claims, their entitlement to the provisions of health care and to veterans’ benefits are property interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment. The deprivation of those property interests by delaying their provisions, without justification and without any procedure to expedite, violates veterans’ constitutional rights. Because neither Congress nor the Executive has corrected the behavior that yields these constitutional violations, the courts must provide the plaintiff with a remedy. We therefore remand this case to the District Court with the instruction that, unless the parties resolve this dispute first, it enter an order consistent with this opinion.

AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED.

The actual implementation of this decision is yet to be determined. The Secretary (VA) has several options, for instance; 1. Seek an En Banc decision; 2. Request a stay of the proceedings while seeking Certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States.

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May 2, 2011

Thank you to all US service men and women and our Allies

May 1st, 2011, is a great day for America.

Congratulations and thanks must go to the United States military, Defense Department, and all intelligence agencies responsible for killing Osama bin Laden.

Since August 1990, American troops have been protecting the United States of America and millions of foreign citizens in the Middle East and across the world against unprovoked aggression.

I want to thank the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have served as airmen, soldiers, marines, sailors, and Coast Guard men and women in the United States military supporting Operation Desert Shield/Storm to the present. Your sacrifices have been tremendous, and are truly appreciated each and every day. Your sacrifice, teamwork, and effort resulted in Justice after 9 years, 7 months and 20 days.

You are in the prayers of the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, and all of us thank you very much. Praying that all of you who are deployed return safely.

Thank you for bringing Justice to this terrorist. Thank you for your service.

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March 17, 2011

Stop Loss Application Deadline - - March 18, 2011

After several extensions the newest and possibly last opportunity to apply for Stop-Loss payments is set for March 18, 2011.

Additional information from the Department of Defense may be found at

Essentially if a service member was not allowed to separate or retire - - the service member's service was involuntarily extended between September 11, 2001, and September 30, 2009, the service member is eligible to apply for this pay.

Why do it? The government has authorized a payment of $500 per month / partial month for your involuntary service extension.

Please see for a contact list of the services.

Do Not Delay, apply before the Deadline passes!

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December 23, 2010

Benefits for Disabled Texas Veterans - - Disabled Veteran Vehicle License Plates

A benefit for disabled Texas veterans is the Disabled Veteran license plate.

Texas veterans who are rated and received monthly compensation, and are:
• 40% service-connected due to a lower limb amputation; or
• rated with a 50% service-connected disability by the VA;
may receive a disabled veteran license plate for a nominal fee of $3.

Additional vehicles pay the normal fees.

• Fill out VTR-615 (State of Texas), and either use a certified letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs certifying your disability percentage, or have a VA representative sign and certify your qualifications on the VTR-615. To find the fill-able form online go to

• The State of Texas helps their disabled veterans. First the license registration fees are minimal or free. Secondly, this disabled veteran license plate also provides EZ-Tag usage with no fees once the EZ-Tag pass and license are registered with the EZ-Tag office.

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August 3, 2010

Court orders VA to issue the Final Agent Orange Rule

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, ORDERED the Secretary of Veteran Affairs to issue the final rule for the new Agent Orange (AO) Presumptions within 30 days from August 2, 2010.

The significance of this Order is a final rule is required before VA Regional Offices consider and GRANT AO issues based upon the NEW presumptions. For a veteran to be granted a service-connection for one of the new AO presumptive diseases the veteran must have one of the new AO diseases, and prove they were in Vietnam or another area specified by the VA.

Prior to the Federal Circuits' Order the VA had delayed issuing this final rule.

If you were in Vietnam, have one of the presumptive diseases, and need help with appealing a denial of one of the AO disabilities, please contact The Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. to help you with your appeal. Please complete our intake form to begin your appeal.

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April 9, 2010


Many veterans are exposed to noise during their military service. And by noise I mean everything from explosions, gunfire, jet engines, machinery, or other events that produce loud sounds.

Tinnitus is commonly referred to as "ringing in ears," but may sound to the veteran like popping, old test tube equipment, electrical sounds, clicking, or another noise in the ears or head of the veteran.

The VA provides a 10% disability rating for veterans having this disability as long as the tinnitus is recurrent. The maximum amount is 10%, regardless of if the tinnitus is in one or both ears, or the head.

If the veteran is granted 10%, that is the maximum allowable for this disability. However, tinnitus may be combined with another disability such as hearing loss, unless the tinnitus supports the other disability.

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February 9, 2010

Texas Veteran’s – Texas Veteran’s Mortgage Credit Program

Texas Veteran’s seeking help buying and owning a home, just received a little extra help on February 9, 2010. Under this new program called the Texas Veteran’s Mortgage Credit Program, a veteran may apply and receive up to $2000 on the mortgage interest paid to own a home in the State of Texas.

For complete details please visit the website listed below or read the material copied from the site in the continued reading section.


Continue reading "Texas Veteran’s – Texas Veteran’s Mortgage Credit Program" »

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February 2, 2010

Stop Loss Payments available to Veterans "Stop-Lossed" between Sept 11, 2001 and Sept 30, 2009

If you or a deceased family member was prevented from separating or retiring between September 11, 2001, and September 30, 2009, because of Stop-Loss, you may be entitled to $500 for each month you were stop-lossed (retained).

YOU MUST APPLY with your respective service no later than October 30, 2010, and apply using the following sites or e-mail addresses:

Stop Loss contact information:

Air Force:

or email: RetroStopLossPay@CONUS.Army.Mil

Marine Corps:
or e-mail:

Navy: E-mail :

There are requirements you must comply with, but the program is geared to assist you. For instance the Air Force requires a simple 2-page document be completed and attachment of your DD-214 and proof of Stop-Loss. The DoD, however, is allowing statements to be made by the veteran's chain of command to prove the veteran was retained.

For additional information please read, which cited the American Forces Press Service article by SFC Michael J. Carden at:

or the Army's release of the article by SFC Michael J. Carden at:

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January 22, 2010

Health Care Changes for Retired and Tricare Eligible Veterans?

The Congressional Budget Office posted the changes for TRICARE as proposed by Congress in the Health Care plan of 2009-10.

At the same time politicians scream the country needs Health Care, the same politicians are silently taking away health care benefits earned by retired military men and women.

Men and women who accepted the call to defend this country, often at much lower wages than they could earn in the civilian world, because they made choices. These choices involved love for their country and other intangible and tangible issues including being told Health care was a benefit they would earn and have if they served 20 years and retired honorably. These brave men and women earned their Health Care. So why is Congress taking from the veteran?

Congressional staffers for years have looked at the veteran's TRICARE and other related health care programs as a hemorrhaging budget item. Their solution, have the veteran pay MORE.

The rationale of the Congressional or DoD staffer is simple, they mistakenly claim civilians pay more. I argue the military member has paid much more than the civilian. Some veterans will never recover from their wounds. Other veterans chose to stay in the military under the belief Health Care was a benefit they would be provided while on active duty and after retiring.

Veterans paid by serving their country for 20 or more years. That was the contract between the United States and the military member / veteran. Serve your country honorably, retire, and receive Health Care as a partial compensation for accepting the duty and lower earnings over 20+ years.

While Congress screams to force business to pay for Health Care for their employees. Congress does not feel the same about their employees, military men & women. Veterans need to write their Congressional Representatives.

To read a synopsis of the Health Care which was proposed and how it affects TRICARE users read below.

Continue reading "Health Care Changes for Retired and Tricare Eligible Veterans?" »

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October 20, 2009

3 New Presumptive Agent Orange Illnesses

B cell leukemias, Parkinson's disease, and ischemic heart disease are now presumptive diseases / illnesses for veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

On October 13, 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs in a news release announced the VA is extending VA benefits to Vietnam veterans who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange.

The October 13, 2009, VA news release states an “estimated 2.6 million” veterans were exposed to the herbicide commonly referred to as Agent Orange. Secretary Shinseki declared “Veterans who endure health problems deserve timely decisions based on solid evidence.” An independent study concluded these illnesses/diseases are directly related to Agent Orange exposure.

The significance of the VA including these 3 new illnesses as presumptive disabilities resulting from Agent Orange exposure, the veteran does not have to prove a connection between their military service and the resulting disease. The veteran, however, must have been exposed to Agent Orange. Therefore, a veteran who is exposed to Agent Orange, as proven by being in the Army and in country (in Vietnam), the veteran has been exposed to AO. Inclusion of the presumptive disease / illness means the veteran is presumed to have a service-connected disability if he has one of the presumptive diseases.

Service and exposure coupled with a current disability is now a service-connected disability.

The full list of presumptive diseases / illnesses associated with Agent Orange includes:
1. B cell leukemias;
2. Parkinson's disease;
3. ischemic heart disease;
4. Acute and Subacute Transient Peripheral Neuropathy;
5. AL Amyloidosis;
6. Chloracne;
7. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia;
8. Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2);
9. Hodgkin’s Disease;
10. Multiple Myeloma
11. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
12. Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
13. Prostate Cancer
14. Respiratory Cancers, and
15. Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or Mesothelioma)

The effective date is the original claim date the veteran filed the Claim for VA Benefits for one of these new presumptive diseases / illnesses. If you were previously denied VA benefits claim for a B cell leukemia, Parkinson's disease, or ischemic heart disease you have a current claim.

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August 11, 2009

VA PSA by Gary Sinise

Suicide is not the answer, according to this clip. Unfortunately, many wounded and disabled veterans carry the burden of depression, loneliness, fear of the unknown future, and just want to give up. I understand all too well.

For the disabled veteran their world has turned upside down. They were active, strong, and had the future. Depending on the injury, event or disease that changed the veteran's life, the hope may be gone.

For me I sought counseling on how to deal with my loss and also how to deal with how people treated me now. I just recently went through a devastating loss when a fiancé left when she saw my vision during a low vision eye exam. I turned to counseling to find hope.

Continue reading "VA PSA by Gary Sinise" »

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May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009 and how you can help your VA Claim – File Today

Memorial Day brings back a lot of memories to me of serving overseas and in a combat zone. Friday meant just two more workdays until Monday. For me, as an aircraft commander or Mission Director, even time in the tent meant I was thinking about the upcoming operations or missions ahead. I was constantly thinking and preparing to achieve the mission objectives.

The objective of VA benefits is to help you to compensate for any service-connected disabilities that limit your earnings.

I can state you need to take charge of helping yourself receive your disability payments or Vocational Rehabilitation to achieve your post-military objectives. You need to act to receive VA service-connected disability payments or help.

For a VA benefit that you earned to be awarded to you, the VA first has to know about you. You must apply for VA benefits through a "526" at your VA regional office. Each day you prolong is a day the VA does not know you have a disability. This is a day you will never be paid for your service-connected disability.

My advice to you is immediately upon separation or retirement, apply for your VA benefits. Do not wait. The date you apply, establishes your “effective date.” Think of this date as analogous to your enlistment date, this is the date that the Department of Veterans Affairs will use to calculate the monies owed to you once your Disability rating is established.

I understand, you may want nothing to do with the military or VA, but the VA folks are not mind readers, they cannot know you have a claim until you file. The law prevents them from granting you an effective date, you thought about filing --- you must apply for your benefits.

Next, within the FIRST year of separation or retirement any disabilities noted and claimed to the VA are considered to be within the presumptive period indicating this is a service-connected disability. Again ANOTHER REASON TO FILE SOON.

As our previous blogs have pointed out you need 3 things to receive a service-connected disability, the first of which is a disability in service, followed by a current disability, and finally a connection or nexus between these 2 disabilities.

Trying to "tough it out" and not let the VA know until 20 or 30 years later allows the VA to search for other alternatives to your disability. You may very well have a current disability, but the VA may use an intervening event (your involvement in a car crash) as the actual cause of the disability. Therefore there is not a connection between your in-service disability and the present disability. Plus, you lose all those years where you could be paid for your service-connected disability.

That is why timely filing establishes the fact that you have an in-service disability. Therefore, just as you were vigilant while in service to accomplish the unit’s mission, you need to be proactive with your objective of receiving a service-connected VA disability claims, and file today.

Happy Memorial Day --- Thank you for your service to our country.

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March 27, 2009


Filing a claim for disability benefits with the VA is a straight forward process. There is no magic formula to the process.

However, recent revelations about some employees at some VA Regional Offices destroying or hiding claims raises issues regarding how veterans can protect themselves from such unconscionable behavior. There are some things you can do to help make sure your claims are received and processed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The easiest way to protect against lost or destroyed claims is by delivering the claim to the VA Regional Office directly. Deliver the claim directly to the VA and ask the VA employee accepting the claim to date stamp the claim as received and provide you with a copy. The VA employee should be glad to accommodate your request. If the employee is not willing to abide by your request, ask to see a Supervisor. Now you have a copy of the claim you filed with a VA date stamp showing the date it was received by the VA. If you later discover the claim has been lost or has otherwise not be processed by VA, you can provide them with a copy of what you have and insist they open the claim and begin processing. Remember the date of the claim should be the date shown on the copy VA provided to you. This date is important because most benefits granted are granted effective the date the claim was filed with VA. There are exceptions to this but the date of the claim is a very important date and it should be correct.

Next, if you can’t get to the VA Regional Office for some reason, the next best way to prevent lost or destroyed claims is to visit a Veterans Service Organization such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or your state veterans service organization. They can help you complete the claim paperwork and can submit the claim for you directly to the VA Regional Office. Make sure the organization you choose has procedures for filing the claim. Most veterans service organizations log claims filed for claimants into some type of database or tracking log to ensure the claim gets opened and processed by VA. Again you should ask the service organization for a copy of what they file on your behalf. Then if the claim gets lost or destroyed, you have proof the claim was filed supported by the service organization records of the claim.

Finally, if you have received a decision from VA on a claim that you don’t agree with, hiring an attorney can be a good idea. Most attorneys use certified mail, return receipt requested when sending claims, documents or other important paperwork to the VA. This ensures the VA receives what has been sent. The VA must sign for the submission and that signed receipt is returned to the attorney.

Remember, it’s your claim; take responsibility for ensuring everything that can be done, is done to make sure the Department of Veterans Affairs receives, opens and processes your claim for benefits. Whether you file your claim directly with the VA, through one of the veteran service organization or an attorney, make sure you’ve done all you can to ensure your claim is given the attention it deserves by the VA.

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February 28, 2009

Medical Opinion’s Role in Deciding Claims

Recent U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) cases have clarified how medical opinion evidence must be considered. These decisions did not have any impact on current Department of Veterans Affairs regulatory language, but they have made it clear how the CAVC will handle decisions made based on medical opinion evidence.

CAVC has held that the probative value (the weight to be given) of a medical opinion rests primarily in the examiner’s reasoning or rationale. CAVC held that private medical opinions cannot be discounted based on a lack of review of the veterans DVA claims file. CAVC further indicated that a DVA examination is not accorded greater probative value simply based on review of the claim folder.

However, CAVC did hold that DVA DOES NOT have a general duty to inform every claimant providing a private medical opinion of the availability of the DVA claim folder. In other words, DVA’s failure to inform the claimant that the claim folder is available for review by the private physician is not sufficient to reverse a denial based on lack of sufficient reasoning/rationale by the private physician.

CAVC indicates it is the claimant’s responsibility to ensure the private physician is provided with all of the pertinent medical evidence/facts before formulating a medical opinion. In other words, if you plan to submit a private medical opinion to support your claim for benefits, it is prudent to obtain a copy of your claim folder and provide it to the private physician for review prior to rendering the opinion. It is also VERY important to make sure the private physician indicates in the medical opinion that the claim folder was reviewed.

Providing a private medical opinion can be very helpful in supporting your claim for benefits. A private physician’s opinion, however, without a sound rationale based on review of all pertinent medical evidence will not be given the same probative value as an examination by a DVA physician based on review of the claim folder.

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February 21, 2009

Haas v. Nicholson Is Decided

Haas v. Nicholson was the case brought on behalf of “blue water” veterans who argued that the presumption of exposure to herbicides (Agent Orange) should be extended to veterans serving in the waters off the coast of Vietnam.

The presumption of exposure to Agent Orange has been defined by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) as “served in the Republic of Vietnam.” This definition means a veteran must have performed duty or visited the country of Vietnam to be considered to have “served in the Republic of Vietnam.” This presumption of exposure, therefore, did not extend to those serving in the waters off the coast of Vietnam.

The argument made by the appellant, Jonathan L. Haas, was that the presumption should extend to those who served in the waters off the coast of Vietnam. The Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) upheld the VA’s regulatory interpretation that presumption to exposure to Agent Orange did not extend to these “blue water” veterans.

Mr. Haas appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). CAVC set aside the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) interpretation as too restrictive. This decision opened the DVA claims process for “blue water” veterans to claim service connection for the conditions listed in 38 CFR 3.309 as conditions presumed to have resulted from exposure to herbicides.
DVA appealed the CAVC decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This court reversed the CAVC decision and upheld the DVA interpretation of what constitutes exposure to herbicides as permissible.

The DVA is in the process of establishing procedures to begin adjudicating the “Haas” claims that were placed in a pending status since this issue began winding through the court system.

What does this mean to veterans who have claims designated by DVA as “Haas” claims? It is not clear yet how the decision is to be implemented. DVA is still determining how to handle the large number of claims in this category. All veterans with “Haas” claims are CAUTIONED to carefully examine any decision by the DVA denying these claims. Careful review of these denial decisions need to be completed to ensure DVA Regional Offices implement the final processing procedures correctly, and that individual DVA decision-makers follow these procedures.

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October 31, 2008

Filing Claims When Medical Evidence is Not Available to support your VA service-connected disability claim

Title 38 specifically, 38 U.S.C. § 5103A - Duty to Assist Claimants, establishes and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has held the threshold for VA’s duty to assist veterans with their claims is low. Subparagraph 5103A(a) states “the Secretary shall make reasonable efforts to assist a claimant in obtaining evidence necessary to substantiate the claimant's claim for a benefit under a law administered by the Secretary." Court holdings provide a veteran’s lay statement describing the nature of the disability, including such things as the initial incident/illness/injury, symptoms associated with that event and the continuing symptomatology and treatment, if credible, is sufficient to trigger the VA’s duty to assist.

Lay Statements
Examples of lay statements supporting a claim when medical documentation is not available would be a knee disability by a former paratrooper who is injured during a combat jump or a claim of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) by a former artilleryman claiming exposure to acoustic trauma. Underlying this, of course, is the fundamental requirement for a current residual, chronic disability -- a current disability. A diagnosis by a physician is not necessary, but you must be able to clearly describe a residual and chronic condition.

Why is this important? Credible statements provide you with an alternative when there is little or no medical evidence to support your claim for disability. The statute and the Court’s review and guidance provide the guidelines and a strategy for overcoming the lack of a medical opinion on whether the current residual disability is related to the described in-service disability. This medical opinion is necessary to establish a service connection when service medical records are silent or equivocal in verifying the in-service disease, injury, or event and medical evidence of treatment since active duty is lacking.

How you maximize this strategy to help trigger VA’s duty to assist in obtaining the medical examination? It is important to provide as much information as possible when making your claim or appealing a VA decision. For example, “I was running inside the company compound at Long Bihn Post, Vietnam on July 5, 1968, when I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle”. Your description of symptoms must be directed at clearly describing how you were affected by the in-service event. Simply stating “I had pain” is probably not enough.

For example, “my ankle immediately started swelling, became bruised, was throbbing and I could not bear weight on it” is more descriptive and quantifies the pain for the claim. Describe the pain, i.e., sharp, throbbing, dull and achy, etc. You should describe what, if any, treatment you received following the in-service event. Your description should provide as much detailed information as possible, and should contain enough information to verify or raise the presumption the disease, injury, or event occurred.

The detailed information you state should include dates of treatment, provider of treatment, and type of treatment. These details are important. For example, you should describe who, what, where, when the treatment was received such as “on July 6, 1968, I was seen by the company medic, was given aspirin and had my ankle wrapped with an elastic bandage.” This information described to treatment in enough detail to document the in-service disability.

Detailed information about treatment after service for the in-service event should also be provided. This information should be specific and designed to clearly describe the on-going nature of symptoms following active duty. For example, “My ankle flares up several times per year”. “My ankle is weak and easily re-injured resulting in renewed swelling, pain and inability to bear weight. The pain is initially throbbing and turns into dull and achy.”

You should describe what kind of treatment you obtained for these recurrent flare-ups. For example, “since the medic gave me aspirin and wrapped my ankle, I use over-the-counter pain medications (Motrin), use an Ace wrap and a cane when I have problems with my ankle.” If you cannot provide this type of information then the VA’s duty to assist with your claim will likely not be triggered.

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October 23, 2008

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act (PA) and Requests for Documents from VA Claim Folders to support a VA Claim

Both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act (PA) give the public the right to request access to records held by Federal agencies.

FOIA applies to all Federal agency records with access rights generally given to “any person.” However, one of the FOIA exemptions permits the withholding of information about individuals to protect their personal privacy.

The Privacy Act applies to only those Federal agency records that are in a “systems of records.” A system of records contains information about individuals that is retrievable using a name or personal identifier (e.g., claim file number). Privacy Act access rights are given only to individuals or their appointed representatives who are the subject of the records sought.

How long does VA have to process a request? The law requires VA respond within 20 working days of the date that the request is received by the custodian of the record. Within that time, the custodian of the record is required to at least advise the requester whether VA has any information responsive to the request. If feasible, the requested information will also be released within 20 working days. VA processes FOIA / PA requests on a first-in, first-out basis. Therefore, if there is a backlog of pending requests, it will take longer to provide a final response.

If the VA cannot provide the requested records within 20 working days, what do they do? The VA will provide the requestor with an interim reply in writing. This reply should include the following language:

This acknowledges receipt of your recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) - Privacy Act request, and to inform you of the decision to grant to you access to the requested records if found, and not exempted from disclosure by law. Any releasable sections of the requested records shall be provided to you after deletion of the parts that are exempt. You may expect to receive a response as promptly as possible. Our statewide telephone number is 1-800-827-1000.

Sincerely yours,

FOIA - Privacy Act Officer.

By sending this response within 20 working days, the VA meets the law’s timeliness requirement. The VA will then send the requested documents on the first-in, first-out basis described above. Therefore, if you anticipate needing documents from your VA claim folder, a veteran needs to request these records in a timely and early enough manner prior to any deadline for submitting a claim. The request for the C-File should include the time, if you have wait for the VA to respond, to account for the delay in the VA’s response.

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October 22, 2008

Chronicity and Continuity for service-connected VA disability benefits nexus (connection)

Chronicity and Continuity
Chronicity is established when the disability has been present since the in-service disease, injury, or event occurred. In other words, you have had this residual condition to one degree or another since the disability occurred and leaving active duty.

The second element to prove a nexus is continuity. Continuity means you have been receiving treatment for the condition since leaving active duty. In the absence of clear evidence of continuity and chronicity, the VA may order an opinion examination and ask the examiner to determine if the current disability is “at least as likely as not” related to the in-service disease, injury, or event.

This statement of “at least as likely as not” opinion is then used by the VA to establish the nexus, or connection between the in-service illness/injury exists in order to grant entitlement to the service connected disability. Again, when and how the VA determines whether a nexus opinion is required will be discussed in a later blog.

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October 21, 2008

Service-connected VA benefits requirements

Establishing entitlement to compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for service connected disabilities requires the claimant meet three criteria.

To receive a service-connected disability benefit a veteran must have suffered a disease, injury, or event that resulted in a disability while on active duty, or had a pre-existing condition that was aggravated by the veteran’s service. For this paper these 4 elements that caused the in-service disability will be referred to as disease, injury, or event.

The first criteria are an in-service disease, injury, or event that resulted in a disability. This disease, injury, or event must have occurred during a period of active duty. Since medical evidence is paramount it is usually helpful if medical treatment was provided and recorded in your service medical (treatment) records while on active duty, but not absolutely necessary. The lay statement blog discusses how a claimants applying for a service connected disability can overcome the lack of documented treatment for a disease, injury, or event while on active duty.

The second criterion is a present residual disability related to that injury or illness. You must have a current disability. This means a chronic disability which has been diagnosed by either a private physician or a VA physician. Again, having a confirmed diagnosis of current disability is helpful to the success of your claim, but not absolutely necessary. This issue will also be discussed in a later blog.

The third requirement is a nexus, or connection, between the in-service disease, injury, or event and the current disability. There must be a connection between the in-service disability and the veteran's present disability. Federal statute, case law, and VA rules and regulations require the VA to look for two elements when determining if a nexus exists. These elements are called chronicity and continuity.

See the chronicity and continuity blog for more information on nexus.

Determining the first requirement that an in-service disease, injury, or event resulted in a disability in service is best accomplished through your service medical (treatment) records. If you were injured or became ill during active duty and sought treatment your service treatment records should establish this first element. The VA is responsible, by statute, for obtaining these records. The VA, however, is only required to do a reasonable effort to obtain the records. The VA may claim that they asked the veteran if any other records exist to prove his claim of disability. I will discuss how to overcome this element when VA determines service treatment records are not available in a later blog.

The second requirement of a current disability is best proven by treatment records for the disability since leaving service. This can be done by the use of your VA Medical Center treatment records or by providing the VA with copies of private treatment records. These records must relate to treatment for the disability you are claiming. Submitting treatment records for your heart condition when you’re claiming a back condition will not meet the requirement for establishing a nexus between the in-service illness/injury to your back and your current back disability.

Lastly, the VA should look at all the evidence, service personnel records and service and private medical records, to determine if the nexus has been established. If the nexus is proven to exist, entitlement to service connection for the claimed condition should be established. Remember the three requirements to establish entitlement to service connection disability benefits before filing your claim. Decide how you will best meet these requirements and be able to prove these requirements.

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October 19, 2008

Review of Medical Records -- Why you should Hire an Attorney for your VA benefits Claims

Handling of Medical Records
The attorneys and the Firms experienced staff go through each and every page to determine what medical evidence will support the veteran's claim in accordance with Federal Veterans Laws Rules and Regulations. My Firm and many other attorneys’ offices, employ medical professionals to do an independent chart review to determine if the standard of care for the veteran is in accordance with treatment provided to the veteran. Our clients are also referred to independent medical doctors and psychiatrist who evaluate the totality of the veteran’s medical record.

Only a medical professional may make a medical opinion. Even though you may understand what disease or injury caused your disability, in most cases an opinion only becomes evidence when rendered by a medical professional.

Not every claim can be supported by a medical professional’s opinion. The medical professionals we utilize our professionals, thereby if a veteran has medical evidence it is documented. If the veteran does not have a claim supported by their medical records the firm informs the veteran. If it is possible to send the veteran to a physician, the firm informs a veteran of this in order to document the medical disability the veteran is currently facing and to get the veteran treated.

This evidence normally means medical evidence. Attorneys know what evidence is required to prove a claim. Attorneys also know how to use evidence from medical professional’s statements and opinions contained in the veteran’s medical records. An attorney will NOT fabricate a medical malady to help you improve your claim. Quite the contrary, an attorney’s integrity and professional requirements with the court system requires the attorney only presents evidence that is truthful. This level of integrity helps you in a court.

Relying upon the VA medical centers or QTC to provide you an accurate medical evaluation is once again relying upon extremely busy and overworked human beings to provide you the medical reports and evidence required to prove your claim. An attorney who understands VA laws, rules, and regulations is your best choice for proving your claim for VA benefits after you have sent in your Notice of Disagreement.

Proper development and presentation of evidence is critical to prove your claim before the VA Decision Review Officer, BVA, or the Court. Having an independent medical doctor perform an independent chart review provides the medical professional the ability to render an opinion on any of the VA medical or QTC medical personnel statements contained in a veterans claim folder.

This Firm tells our clients point-blank the firm will not present any frivolous or fictitious claims. By the attorney understanding the laws and the rules the courts will ultimately apply to your claim, hiring an attorney as soon as you have received your initial VA decision that you disagree with makes sense. When your claim is still at the VARO is the time to correct the record and point out to the VA the evidence that supports your claim. The attorney can direct you to medical professionals who may start documenting your disabilities, and presenting their reports as evidence supporting your claim.

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October 17, 2008

Expertise with Administrative Law and Court Rules -- Why you should Hire an Attorney to represent you with a VA Benefits Claim

Expertise with Administrative Law and Court Rules
Attorneys are licensed by State Bars and have fiduciary duties to their clients. Additionally, attorneys have professional ethical requirements to the Court and their clients. This means the attorney must expertly handle your case.

Contrasting this with a VSO I once had an experience with as my representative on a claim for myself, the VSO employee / National Service officer was fast to state legal terms like “hearsay” and cite regulations showing she did not have to do more than fill-out the claim form. Her understanding of hearsay, however, was applied incorrectly. The documents I needed were records. Hearsay applies to spoken testimony, and there are exceptions to admit even hearsay. The record I wanted had an exception allowing its use. This particular VSO had fought over 5 years not to fill-out a form supported by evidence. Once I took the claim from the VSO, I received payment for the benefit from the DoD within 2.5 months. Unfortunately the government will not pay interest on the back pay, and in-addition to losing the interest I lost the use of this money for the 5 years the VSO fought not to fill out one paper.

An additional area separating an attorney from a VSO is the volume of cases being represented by one person. A typical VSO has over 1100 veterans for each national service officer or benefits counselor. Now think about your medical records, if you had any sort of injury while on active duty, or if you did not have an injury, think about those colonels you knew with 2 or 3 binders of medical records. Can you accurately read a thousand pages times 3 or 4 veterans per day and accurately present the evidence that the VA needs to prove a VA benefits claim?

The reduced client load, expertise in veterans law, and the use of independent medical professionals is just a few reasons why you should hire an experienced VA law firm at the earliest opportunity.

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October 16, 2008

Attorney Accountability -- Why you should Hire an Attorney to represent you with a VA Benefits Claim

Attorneys Accountability
VSOs are not accountable, if they miss a deadline or fail to handle your claim in a professional and thorough manner your claim and remedies against the VSO are very limited. Your VA benefits claim on the other hand may have lost its effective date, which will cost you money the VA would have paid should you win your appeal.

Thinking about your military training, you are taught the basics and then the advanced tactics to perform your Mission. Of course you can handle your VA claim by yourself, with a VSO, or an attorney. But do you have the advance skills to know and handle all the legal and medical issues? As the adage states “a person who represents himself has hired a fool.” The reason for this is it is very hard to be objective when you are representing yourself. An attorney on the other hand, is trained to be objective and present your evidence in a manner best supporting your claim.

Having an advocate who understands veteran laws, rules, and regulations is imperative to win a VA appeal. An attorney and law firm experienced in Veteran Law is a tremendous asset in your arsenal to win a VA benefits claim.

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October 15, 2008

Benefits of an Attorney -- Why you should Hire an Attorney to represent you with a VA Benefits Claim

Benefits of an attorney
Attorneys unlike Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) are accountable, have expertise with administrative law, court rules, and understand how to articulate a position with evidence to prove the claim. Once your case reaches the CAVC, this Court only reviews the record it has before the court. The record consists of almost everything submitted during the VA claims processes culminating with the BVA denial of the veteran’s claim. Waiting until the a claim reaches the CAVC to hire an attorney means your "record" is established, and the attorney must now show error occurred at the VA or BVA.

Once a case is at the CAVC the case becomes an adversarial case. The VA no longer has a duty to assist you. The VA will be represented by their attorneys whose job it is to represent the VA’s position. At this point the BVA (a part of the VA) has determined your claim is without merit or you are not entitled to the benefit. Once at the CAVC, you cannot now “prove your claim” by calling witnesses and “proving your case at trial.” The trial and evidence phase are over and lawyers from the VA will be in the U.S. Court of Veterans Claims to argue the VA’s position your claim is without merit and the Court should uphold the BVA denial.

There are a lot of reasons to hire an attorney early -- one is to properly and thoroughly review your records and present your claim backed by medical evidence.

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October 14, 2008

Introduction -- Why You Should Hire an Attorney for Your VA Claims

Why You Should Hire an Attorney for Your VA Claims
A couple of days ago I received a call from a veteran who informed me he was told not to hire an attorney until he went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims (CAVC). The veteran described the old law passed after the Civil War. The Veteran Service Officer who had advised the veteran to wait to hire an attorney was describing the law prior to passage of Public Law 109-461 in December 2006. The Civil War era law was rescinded in order to help veterans. Why not take advantage of the new law designed to help you with your veteran’s benefits claim?

Public Law 109-461, The Veterans Benefits and Health Care and Information Technology Act 2006, now allows a veteran to hire an attorney after the veteran receives a rating decision and the veteran sends in a notice of disagreement with the respective veteran claim to the VA.


Until Public Law 109-461 was passed veterans could not hire an attorney until they actually reached the CAVC for representation with their claims. For any veteran that has pursued their VA claim, you understand many organizations exist to help you with your VA benefits claim. But only attorneys are permitted to practice in a court of law. The CAVC is an appellate court just below the U.S. Court for the Federal Circuit. The CAVC was created in 1988 to hear appeals from the Board of Veteran Appeals (BVA). Hiring an attorney only after you reach the CAVC is a mistake.

Attorneys are trained and permitted by law to do work National Service Officers or representatives cannot do, such as present oral arguments at the CAVC or the Federal Circuit. The VSO's should see attorneys trained to handle VA claims as a means to relieve the 1100+ case load the VSO representatives currently are assigned. Attorneys, thereby provide expert representation to clients immediately after the VA Regional Office issues the initial denial. From that moment of the VA sending you the rating decision telling you “no” to your claim, you have to convince the VA they overlooked evidence proving your claim.

Attorneys are trained to prove cases, and a VA benefits claim is a case.

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October 10, 2008

Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) -- Stressors

In general, exposure to stressors can take three forms. The first is engagement in combat operations while on active duty, the second is non combat experiences such as plane crashes, an automobile accident or other non-combat traumas, and the third is personal/sexual assault.

Establishing exposure to stressors is accomplished in one of two ways. First, is the receipt of awards/decorations while on active duty which confirm engagement in combat operations while on active duty. Such things as a Combat Infantry Badge, Combat Action Ribbon, Purple Heart, Silver Star, and Bronze Star with V Device can confirm the veteran was exposed to combat operations. If you have received one of these awards/decorations the VA considers your exposure to stressors confirmed and no further action is necessary by the VA or you to establish the stressor element of the claim for PTSD.

If you did not receive one of the awards/decorations confirming engagement in combat operations, the law requires you must provide “stressor information” to the VA so they can attempt to verify your exposure to combat stressors. If this is the case, there are some very important things you should know about providing this information. First, the stressor information must be as specific as possible. Specificity means date, place, unit and nature of the stressor must be provided in your statement of the claim to the VA.

The date requires as accurate a date as possible. The date is critical for the VA to research and confirm your exposure to the stressor event. For the purposes of researching your claimed stressor, the VA needs the date to be inside a 60 day window of the actual event.

Next, the place needs to be specific for the same reasons as the date, a researcher will have to verify your exposure to the stressor. An example of too general a location is telling the VA the place, the stressor event occurred, was in the Mekong Delta. This will probably not be enough information to allow the researchers to find any useful information to verify your claimed stressors.

Thirdly, you need to provide your unit at the time of the stressor down to the Company level. Again, the researchers need this information to access the various types of information needed to verify you were exposed to stressors.

Last is the nature of the stressor. Telling the VA your stressor is you “saw dead bodies” is not going to result in the VA being able to verify your stressors. Again, you will need to be specific as to what you experience started your PTSD. Another example of a claim that is too general would be if your claimed stressor is you witnessed a traumatic event in the street while you were on pass in Saigon. The VA will have no way to verify your information unless you can provide the exact place and names of those involved.

Once the VA has established that you have been diagnosed with PTSD and have verified your claimed stressors, they will order an examination to determine the nexus or relationship between your confirmed stressors and your diagnosed PTSD.

If you have been diagnosed with PTSD and will be filing a claim, now is the time to begin thinking about information relating to stressors and the documentation required to prove your exposure to the stressors. In some cases, the stressors were many years ago and remembering the events that caused the stressors is painful. If you didn’t receive one of the awards/decorations confirming combat stressors, providing good, specific stressor information is critical to success in establishing service connection for your PTSD.

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October 8, 2008

VA Claims for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Requirements

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition which falls under Anxiety Disorders. It occurs in individuals who have been exposed to events which have placed the individual in fear of harm or death.

I am not a physician or psychologist, however, the firm is staffed with experienced Veteran Advocates led by an experienced Veteran Attorney, so I won’t try to provide clinical information on PTSD. However, I can provide some helpful information for those suffering from PTSD who are filing claims for service connected compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Establishing service connection for PTSD requires three basic requirements. First, you must have been diagnosed with PTSD by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. Second, you must have been exposed to events, called stressors by VA, while on active duty which have led to this condition. Third, you must establish a relationship, nexus (connection), between the in-service stressors and the current PTSD.

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