Last night I was watching one of my favorite TV Dramas, Nashville, and something made me think. This usually happens because of their blatant product placement from companies like Chevrolet, or Subway, but this time it was actually because of the plot of the show. In this episode all of the singers get together to perform at Ft. Campbell in Tennessee. They were performing for a group soldiers who were deploying to Afghanistan. This actually made me think of a conversation I had with a Veteran that day. In the show, some of the soldiers were going to serve overseas while others weren't. After showing this, the program quickly went back to its standard formula of having characters make huge personality changes that will alter who they are…only to go back to their old ways a week later. The scene showing soldiers leaving while others stay behind is what made me think though.
The Veteran I was talking with yesterday served in the 80’s. He never left the country. When he was discharged he was told by someone that he couldn't file for benefits. The reason he was told this is that he didn't serve overseas, and thus he never filed. Well, this is not true, and this Veteran, who has a great claim for PTSD, really missed out on what could have been 20 plus years of benefits. This was a result of him trusting some random person who didn't know anything about VA disability.
The saddest thing about this story is that it’s not the first time I’ve heard it. Just like the plot of any Penny Marshall film, it’s all too familiar.
One of the reasons so many older Veterans are misinformed about VA Disability is that the information wasn't out there when they were discharged. We represent Veterans who served as far back as World War II and the Korean War. The internet wasn’t a thing back then. If we are going to be honest, most people today get their information from social media; that wasn't around until the late 90’s. It was not really used by older Americans until the mid-2000s. It’s still very new compared to when these Veterans were discharged. Though traditional websites have been around for at least 20 years, information about VA disability wasn't the first topic discussed online.
Even though such fun and exciting websites as Myspace haven’t been around for that long, the printed word has, and it wasn’t necessarily utilized well. The VA isn’t the type of organization that goes out of their way to let you know what you can file for. Information about VA Disability benefits has been somewhat scarce until recently. Even traditional media outlets chose not to discuss the issues with the VA until the past few years.
The biggest issue however for most Veterans is that they get their information from the wrong sources. Taking the advice of a friend or loved one, in our experience, is traditionally the wrong way to get your information. The Veteran I mentioned earlier got his info from another Veteran. That information turned out to be completely wrong. Chances are the Veteran he was talking with also received the wrong info too. This occurs too often.
As I was writing this blog today I overheard the supervisor of our VA department tell another Veteran that the information he got from his buddy was completely wrong. He too was misinformed by someone who didn’t know the law. We understand that you are more likely to trust someone else served…it’s only natural. However, when you think about how much false information is out there, it makes sense that most of what one hears via word of mouth is false.
At the end of the day I really want Veterans to have the best and most accurate information possible. I’ve been writing this blog for close to three years now. I’ve dedicated a lot of my free time to it and believe it is one of the most accurate sources out there. I work in a VA law firm 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. I am around this information constantly, and I am surrounded by people with a lot more experience than I have. We are passionate about helping Veterans. I encourage all Veterans to find reputable sources when it comes to VA disability. In no way am I saying that my blog is the only place for accurate info. There are others out there too, it just takes some searching. I am lucky in the fact that I can walk 10 steps and talk to an attorney who has practiced VA law for close to a decade, or pick up the phone and talk to a different attorney who used to work as a lawyer for the VA.
If you have questions about your VA claim, or would simply like to know more about what we can do to help you with your disability, call me today. 1-877-526-3457. If you are reading this and can’t talk right now, fill this from out, and I’ll call you at a time that works better for you.
*As soon as I hit the "submit" button to publish this blog today I received a call from a Veteran who was misinformed. He was told that he could not pursue legal action against a VA hospital. I explained to him that it is indeed possible. This is just a further example of all of the false information out there.