THIS IS PART ONE OF A TWO PART ARTICLE. BECAUSE OF IT’S LENGTH I WILL FINISH THE SHORTER OF THE TWO PARTS TOMORROW AND POST IT THEN. PLEASE, I BEG YOU, IF YOU GIVE A DAMN ABOUT AMERICAS SERVICE CONNECTED DISABLED VETERANS PLEASE READ THIS INFORMATION. I PROMISE YOU, THIS IS A 100% TRUE ARTICLE!
Along with that title I should include massive malpractice and attempted murder. I know that what I just said is a bit harsh as is the title yet when something you speak is the truth it is not slander or harsh, it’s just the truth. I know that this may well be my longest article ever but if you wish to hear some truth about how bad I have been treated by the VA system, please lend me your ear. I do not think for one moment that I have been singled out for their persecution, I am just one of millions that they are guilty of trying to kill off whether that be through the above listed actions, or even possibly intent. I know that is a tough statement but after talking with at least 200 different disabled Veterans and their wives from all over the country and hearing their own horror stories it makes one wonder a little bit if the VA is trying to kill off as many of the older Vets as possible to help save the system money so that they can afford all the new disabled younger folks coming into the system everyday.
My story would have to begin when I went into the Army on 7-18-1983. I was sent to Boot Camp at Ft. Dix NJ. While on a training mission there on the post on 8-11-83 I was struck by lightning. Right from the start the company C/O started trying to cover things up and trying to blame others for the event. To me that is really stupid being this isn’t the Boy Scouts. They did know that a huge weather system was coming up the east coast because they had been telling us about it all day, yet still I don’t believe anyone is ‘responsible’, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, 6 PM. When I was totally cleared on medical I was discharged on 2-3-84 from Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland where I had been transferred for the purpose of learning a trade called Small Arms Repair. Ft. Dix just pushed the problem off to another group for them to deal with plus I learned that almost all of my medical records vanished. Within the first five years after I was discharged (because I couldn’t do the work) all record of me ever being in the Army somehow disappeared three different times. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I had several paper documents proving otherwise. I lived in the Dallas Ft. Worth Texas area so I started going to the Dallas VA Hospital starting in September of 84 and moved away from there on 7-1-97. Just recently (about six months ago) I was informed by the VA here in Lexington Ky that the VA has no record of me visiting the Dallas VA until September of 1995. How convenient for them to lose all those records, just like the records from the Ft. Dix hospital have almost all disappeared. One of the interesting little facts that I haven’t told any of them yet is that in their new computer system (about 3 yrs old) they call “My Healthevet” they have record of several of my lab reports dating from January of 1991, from Dallas.
As I said earlier I was discharged in February of 84, by about July of 84 I was starting to have pain in the left side of my chest and real bad pain in my left shoulder. By September of 84 the shoulder pain had gotten so intense that I could not put my left hand up on the lawn mower handle to hold the lever to make the mower function. I did not have any medical insurance at my job so I went to the Dallas VA at least seven times starting with September of 84 up through the spring of 97 when I moved to Ocala Florida and started going to the VA in Gainsville Florida. All of these times that I went to the hospitals for help it was all I could do to walk in from the parking lot because of having so much pain in my chest, shoulder and neck where I was sweating very badly and very short of breath. Each time I had to stop two or three times because of these reasons. When I would finally get seen I used to have the ‘problem’ where my blood pressure tended to always stay at about 110/70. The medical people would see that and say “well we know it’s not your heart” because by blood pressure was so good. Even though I had all the signs of having a heart attack I could never get them to “waste their time” to ever get an EKG. I always got told there was nothing wrong except maybe heartburn and they would dismiss me.
Being struck by lightning is not something I believe I had ever thought much about, until it happened. It is not something that I recommend for anyone to go through, to say the least, it hurts. I did not really know anything about the effects of being struck by it but if you will read this article you will learn things from my experience. Lightning to me is still a surprising thing in that it produces such energy that can kill a whole herd of cattle in a field or split a huge oak in half or set a house on fire, or hit a person in the head and they might still live. I have learned that lightning does not kill most of the people it hits but it does tend to mess most folks up for life. I also learned that most people (like with me) do not have exit wounds.
When this event happened I had just laid down on my mat to eat my supper. When I lay down I tend to lay on one side or the other, when I do this I also tend to put (in this case) my left foot/ankle upon the right one. The impact hit me right on my ankle bones then ran up the bone system which the Doctors at the hospital told me was rather normal for it to have done being I was laying down that way. I felt the electricity moving up my legs into my low back and it left red jagged burn marks along its path which is also normal for it to do. I quit feeling that sensation once it reached my low spine where it turned my coccyx (bottom of your spine) and flipped it around backwards. I learned later that this happened because the electricity hit it knocking it out-of-the-way and the electricity ran up my spine. While on the examining table in the emergency room I could not feel my legs except for the intense pain in both of my ankles. There was an area on both ankles about the size of a silver dollar where it felt like there was a vice being cranked down on the ankle bones. There was one Doctor who I remember was a Major whom the ER called in because he had had experience with lightning strike victims. There was also another Doctor there who was working with him whom had no such experience. The second Doctor touched my knees and made comment that my knees were hot, which I did not know because I could not feel them. So, I put my hands on my knees and found out that he was correct, they were quite hot. This Doctor also by accident touched the bottom of my right foot with all the fingers on one of his hands, when he did this my whole right leg flew up and my knee almost hit me in the face and then went straight back down. This happened even though I could not feel either of my feet, this was one of my early warning signs about nerve damage. Another big sign of the nerve damage was when the now three Doctors helped me up onto the side of the table so that I could step down onto the floor, they wanted to see if my legs would be able to hold me up. The result was that as soon as my feet hit the floor an intense pain as if it were a bullet went up through the bottoms of my feet, through my whole body and out the top of my head in no more than one second. I actually yelled out in pain as I hit the floor within that one second. Actually the yelp was after the pain had already gone through me as I now laid crumpled on the floor. I remember hearing the term C-6 for the first time at that moment. I didn’t know what this lady Doctor meant by that so she explained that the sensation was because there was nerve damage to the C-6 vertebrae which is in people’s neck. Ever since the lightning strike I have never been able to take the pain of doing something stupid like hopping out of the back of a trailer or off of a loading dock with out it hurting me a lot with the same result as at the hospital.
When I was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland I spent most of my time there as a Colonel’s Orderly while I was doing rehab at clinics and occasionally going to their Post hospital to see this one idiotic lady Captain Doctor who she seemed to think that because she out ranked me that she could give me the order about the lightning of “it never happened”, as I said, idiotic. While I was at Aberdeen they tried to send me through a school called Small Arms Repair which is really no more than being a parts changer on small arms, rifles, shotguns, pistols and the like. When I took the entrance exams to get into the Army my scores were all up in the mid ninety’s which I was informed by the school CO was higher than any of the instructors, yet I could not pick it up, I could not remember things from one day to the next. The people in charge tended to think that I was failing on purpose but I wasn’t, I just couldn’t remember the material. I did fail out of that school and once my medical clearance came through I was handed my Honorable Discharge papers the next day. Up until last summer, about August of 2015, I could never figure out why I now had such a hard time learning new things to where I now have to write about anything new onto note pads to where I can go over and over it until I can pick it up. Last summer I was on-line just flipping through different web sites and I came across one that was from Neurology Today Magazine and I noticed a headline about a study on lightning strike survivors and spine damage. In this article I learned that a lightning strike generates apx one million volts of electricity. They said that when a large electrical shock goes up the spine that among the things it does is to zap a nerve that is at the tip-top of everyone’s spine. When this happens to a person the result is that the nerve sends something like a little beam to the left front part of the brain where short-term memory is located, and zaps it, thus screwing up a persons short-term memory abilities. I have come across several VA Doctors throughout the years who are adamant that among other things, that there is no such thing as back injuries and that there is no such thing as nerve damage. It has become my belief that many Doctors enter the military and or the VA for employment because they cannot be sued for malpractice so they also do not need to pay for that coverage. I still come across some VA Doctors to this day that believe that if a person’s blood pressure is okay that the person’s heart is okay, total ignorance!
If a person wants to find out about problems people who have been hit with lightning tend to have concerning their long term health they would find that my problems are not any different from what would be considered as normal. The first two things on the list are heart problems and spinal nerve problems. I am no one special in this regard yet I receive 40% Service Connected disability rating from the VA because of traumatic arthritic conditions to my knees at 20% and the other 20% because of hearing loss in both ears. Nothing for the ankles which was the point on impact, nor any of the other joints, nothing for nerve damage, nothing for the heart being destroyed. I did have one test done that I had been asking for years to be done called a Nerve Conductivity Test, when they did it they “on my legs” they said that they found no problems and this “test” results are what is in my records. The “test” was conducted by one guy (I say ‘guy’ because I have learned that many people who do these test aren’t actually Doctors and often aren’t even VA employees), this guy had me take off my pants, shoes and socks and to sit upon a table. He told me to turn my head to the right and not to look toward him as he did ‘the test’. When he told me he was done I was allowed to look back at him, what he had done was to take a stick pin like you use to put a calendar onto a wall and stuck each of my legs about 20 times all over both legs. What I saw was all of these little blood drops/spots and him holding that pin. I would bet almost anything that this is not a real Nerve Conductivity Test, it was just a guy acting like an a-hole. Also now concerning lack of morals, ethics or professionalism when it comes to heart issues. When I have spoken with civilian Doctors including heart Doctors and about my problems they have all said things along the lines of “well of course” lightning did this to your heart and spine. A few used the term “well duh”. I remember this term because three different times when I met Doctors at the VA who were new to me and they asked me about my problems I was having I told them about the lightning and they said “well duh” of course the lightning caused it. But, now the kicker, and my wife was present two of these times, then I told those Doctors that the lightning happened when I was on active duty and they at once changed their opinions and said that well ‘that’ the ‘lightning’ couldn’t have had anything to do with it. We all know that poop flows down hill so that the employees catch all the hell from above if they don’t tow the company mark but when even Doctors who take a ‘solemn oath’ to do no hurt act like this, their lack of morals and ethics are well on display.
Three previous times I have applied to the VA for an increase on my disability rating trying to get it on my heart, spine, and on my other joints like my hips and shoulders. All three times a guy would come into a room to do this ‘inspection” and as I an all of America has found out in this past two years of so, these people whom portray themselves as ‘Doctors’ weren’t. These people who have been doing these ‘inspections’ aren’t even VA employees, or Doctors, or even have medical training. These people are outside contractors hired by the VA to do these fraud evaluations. All three of these times when the person came into the room they had orders to only and I do mean only, to look at my knees, not the issues that the appointment was supposed to cover. When you tried to get them to look at some of the other issues every time they would get mad and made it plain that the only thing they were allowed to look at was my knees. One gentleman even went as far as to threaten me that if I didn’t quit complaining that they could just take my rating down to zero and make it where I couldn’t go to the VA anymore. You know what is even worse than this fraud, it’s when you find out that someone in the VA system then puts in your records that during the physical that nothing besides the knees were found to be wrong. The BS continues in this scam against the Service Connected Disabled Vets, now that they put this BS in your records all of the evidence that you had given to them to support your claims can no longer ever be looked at again.
There is the issue of the Disability checks that the Service Connected Vets get, as I said I am rated at 40%. For the purpose of saving the VA money where in times past any ratings check would go to the spouse of the Vet once they had died as long as the surviving spouse didn’t remarry. Then it was changed to where the rating had to be at least 30%. Now it is at 60%, so the check we get each month once I die, they cut my wife off unless I get it increased. Yet reality is that they may well in the future raise the requirement rating again after I’m dead. The last day I was able to physically work at all was June 21st, 2013. I applied for social security disability and got my first check in five months and seven days, first try. These other three times I tried to get my rating increased I got turned down after about a year or so but because I was still able to do some work I did not contest them but this last time (4th) I filed in mid February of 2013 because I knew that I was not going to be able to continue working much longer. I had also seen a VA Neurosurgeon at the hospital in Johnson City Tn in October of 2012 who actually in writing agreed with the results of an MRI on my neck that I should be given an increase in ratings because it was obvious that the lightning had messed up my spine. This was turned in with a bunch of other documents that the people on the ratings board in Nashville Tn totally ignored and turned me down flat on all claims. I got this turn down notice in mid March of 2014. At that time because I was no longer able to do any work of any kind I went ahead and filed an appeal which I was told would take about two years at which time I would go in front of a Board of three Judges whom were not getting their checks from the VA like the others had been. In very late June of this year I got a phone call from a man who said he was with this fore mentioned Board who told me that on April 26th of this year that my case was basically put onto someones desk there and that I should be given a date ‘soon’ to where I could go in front of this three Judge panel, I still haven’t heard anything since. February of 2013, it is now August of 2016, that is three and a half years and still waiting. In March of 1999 in Ocala Florida at a civilian hospital I had a four-way by-pass operation, seven days later one of those arteries closed and I had yet another heart attack (I have had many) these civilian Doctors told me that if I really behaved myself and didn’t pull, push or lift anything that if I was lucky I might live another three or four years. Every day is borrowed time, only through God’s grace and some very good civilian Doctors in Georgia am I still breathing. How many Service Connected Disabled Veterans die each day on this waiting list trying to get an honest rating so that their wife and children won’t have to lose their homes or have the ability to stay off of food stamps? To me their actions (VA) are a moral sin that I have my doubts that God will forgive them for! How much blood are on these people hands?