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Date: October 31, 2016
Program/Location: Veterans Services Team VARO and Olympia
On September 30th, WDVA received a call from a veteran who had been recently diagnosed with ALS. He had never connected with the VA in any way and honestly never thought he would. He was a classic veteran who served his 6 or so years in the military and moved on with his life, but his ALS diagnosis changed all that.
He had visited a VSO earlier in the week to file a claim for service connected disability and had filed for Social Security disability on his own the week prior. He had no income and was beginning to use his very small retirement account, even though at his age the penalties for withdrawing out of that account would mean he would soon be out of funding entirely.
Caesar was contacted to find out whether there was anything that could be done to expedite his claim given that his ALS was already progressing and impacting his speech and ability to use his arms and hands. He quickly learned that although paperwork may have been on the way, there was no claim actually filed at the VARO. Since September 30th was a Friday and the last working day of the month, he called down to Olympia to see whether Venus could assemble a team to go to the veteran’s home, gather all of the paperwork that was needed, and get the info to the VARO prior to the end of the day so that his claim could be eligible for funding in the month of September.
At about 2pm on a Friday afternoon, Venus and Darcy made arrangements to visit this veteran in his home. They took his complete claim from start to finish, gathered all of the paperwork that was needed and submitted the information back to the VARO before the end of the day.
Caesar didn’t stop there though. While the Paralyzed Veterans of America were not the VSO the veteran originally went to for help, Caesar reached out to them to find out whether they would be willing to handle this claim. He knew that PVA are the experts on ALS claims, and even before they had the paperwork, PVA was coordinating with the ALS clinic at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Two working days after the veteran originally contacted WDVA, he had a full ALS appointment at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and received his VA ID card.
On October 31 (twenty working days after the claim was filed), the VA mailed the veteran’s rating letter at 100% service connected disabled. The veteran now has income, access to full health care (he was on the last month of his COBRA Medical coverage from the job he no longer had), and his children have access to CHAMPVA Health Care as well as Chapter 35 education benefits when they are older. He also knows that when he needs a higher level of health care, the VA will cover his long-term care entirely. While the veteran still bears the burden of this terrible illness, the work of our WDVA team has at least helped to alleviate some of the financial and health care related concerns.
This is exactly how the WDVA, the Federal VA and our VSO Partners are meant to work together to support veterans and their families.
Thank you to Caesar, Venus, Darcy, Leland and Rafael for going above and beyond to be sure this veteran was taken care of – that is the WDVA Way!