Hey...I'm new to the board and have a few questions regarding my VA claim I submitted about 3 months ago. My name is Rob and I was active duty Special Operations Air Force for 12 years (1995-2007). During my tenure I served as a Munitions Specialist in Korea (1 year), Hurlburt Field (AFOSC, 9 years), and Kadena AB (2 years) in Okinawa Japan. I also deployed roughly 12 times in those 12 years to OEF, OIF, Kosovo, Joint Forge, Africa...etc. In short, I participated in numerous operations in the AOR.
I have had custody of my three sons since 2004. In 2007, I was honorably discharged after 12 years of service under the "Parenthood" clause. At the time I was living in Okinawa and I was tasked to deploy to Iraq once again and I simply could not do it. My youngest was only 3 years old at the time and it just wasnt feasible while living OCONUS. I applied for a humanitarian, reassignment...etc. Nothing worked. So, I was involuntarily discharged with honors and half (50%) separation pay. It was a low point because I had plans to be a lifer and had a line number for E-7 when I separated (I got out at an E-6; TSgt). Needless to say, my ex-wife was of no help and unable to care for the children on her own because she is an extreme bi-polar (hence the reason I have custody). However, being that my ex-wife served 18 months in the Air Force back in 1997-1999, she gets VA disability for her condition, LOL!! Yeah, only 18 months and never deployed, never overseas and gets 50% disability. Keep in mind, I get ZERO child support from her...never a dime.
Moving on. While active duty I was seen for some neck issues, vertigo, and headaches and participated in physical therapy at Kadena AB for my issues, but they were not resolved prior to my discharge. I've had tinnitus for years dating back to around 2001. In fact, upon my discharge physical, I failed my hearing test 2 times, but was told I had to pass it in order to leave the island and final outprocess once I got to Scott AFB. So, I just hit the buttons and passed the damn thing. After I was discharged, I never applied for disability. Im sure this was a mistake, but this due in part to pride I guess and the fact that overall, I felt fine. I didnt want to use the system. Yes, I still had vertigo, headaches and bad ringing in my ears from processing empty ammunition, loud machinery and mortars all those years. But, it wasnt a major disability, more like an annoyance I had learned to live with. Cause, when it first started happening, I got that nervous feeling that I was going keel over. Haha. But, like I said, over time I just learned to let it pass.
Moving ahead to the past year, my hearing has started to suddenly fade out, ring loudly and then fade back in very slowly. Not only that, but my vertigo has not gone away. It is not badly severe, but it is amplified if I get on elevators, stand on uneven surfaces, or anything similiar and gets to the point where I have to stop cause I feel like Im going to fall out. Headaches are common...I go through Excedrin Migraine a lot.
But, I am still a very fit person. I lift weights regularly and still perform considerable cardio, it's just part of my daily routine and having been Spec Ops and active duty since I was 18, its just a part of my life. It helps me feel better, can get rid of the headaches (but they come back) and eases my stress. With that said, my two concerns are this: I dont "look" disabled...LOL!! Also, I waited several years until after I was separated to file for benefits. What are the chances of getting approved under these conditions? Keep in mind, if things hadnt gotten worse, I wouldnt even apply. But, I'd like some of my service benefits to be of use and assist me with medical care and financial stability if there is something more serious underlying down the road. Right now, Im a federal employee and I pay $150.00 per payday for medical coverage and the co-pays add up. Of course, the compensation wouldnt hurt either. But, in all, I feel I've earned it after 12 years of service and all of my deployments.
Any information you could provide would help me out. One more thing, I have been calling 1-800-827-1000 to get the status of my claim. The automated system has no record of my claim (despite the fact I have papers from the VA to back it up) and when it transfers me to a representative, it just says, "We cannot complete your call at this time, call back at a later time". What gives?
Thanks for your help and for all of your service to this country.