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It Was About Time I Did It

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Last year after spending a year thinking about it, once more at age 70, I applied for my VA benefits, after ignoring them for the past 32 years

I tried 10 years ago and received the bureaucratic stonewalling and run-a-round, reaching a point where I packed up my tent and went home. Thinking I’ll wait until there is a new group in Washington.

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I retired from the US Navy in 1986, I was healthy and more than able to work and support myself, quite well in fact. I saved my Navy retirement pension from 1986 until 2000 as I never needed it until I retired from the MSC as a Merchant Seaman.

A little history behind my VA QUEST:

I owned nightclubs in Puerto Rico, and then a management position in Treasure Island Florida. Boredom set in and the sea was calling again. (Okay, a six-figure paycheck was also involved) and I was hired on as a merchant seaman and they flew me to San Francisco, put me in a free Holiday Inn, and paid me per-diem (Which I used some to Rent-A-Wreck car.) They sent me to required schools like firefighting, Lifeboatman training, ECT. All while on full pay. I wish I knew about this MSC stuff years before.

Every six months prior to being assigned to a new ship I was required to go through a full physical. It was noted that Every time I had that physical my eyesight and hearing was declining. I chocked it up to getting older.

Next were black spots on my lung x-rays, again I chocked it up to the fact that I still was smoking.

While working as a merchant marine my oldest brother passed from Asbestoses of the lungs and they traced it back to when he built two ships in General Dynamics shipyard in Quincy Massachusetts. The two ships were the USS LY. Spear AS-36 and then the USS Kalamazoo AOR-6 and both ships were built with asbestos as a major component as most Navy ships were. While I was on active duty Navy and I sailed as a crewmember on both those ships and many more infested ships. I then filed a claim with the VA and was summarily rejected as I said above.

Now the reason this is important to me! Since I reside in the Philippines my wife of over 26 years will get none of my military retirement, and the same with my Social Security as she has never resided in the United States. But she can receive any and all of my VA payments.

Let me explain; at less than 50% there is no money involved from your tax dollars. They take the money from my Navy retirement check, and the VA vice the Navy sends it to me: The Exact Same Amount! Here is the math, rounded off. My Navy benefits as a retired Senior Chief let’s say are $2,000.00 per month, the VA, and the Navy each now send a $1,000.00 each, the difference is the VA money is not taxable. I still receive $2,000.00 per month, but if I pass away, Mrs. Thompson will receive the $1,000 per month for life. BTW my disabilities are real and well earned. But to save you tax payer’s money, I waited 32 years to claim it! Feel better?

Add that to my savings (Remember I lived on ships for years without owning a house or car, as my father said: Paul is the wealthiest homeless person he ever met.) and I have 2 life insurance policies, adding in free and clear title on our house and land she will continue to live well. She should have a pleasant life after I shuffle off this Mortal Core. Even without the VA money. She is set up for a good life because of prior planning.

But when dealing with any government organization it involves vast amounts of time and the acute ability to smile.

Under this new administration (Which will remain nameless) there is a new program called Veterans Evaluation Services contracted to set up appointments for VA medical evaluation vice the regular VA Administration who move at a snail’s pace. VES could have been around for a while, but it is new to me.

Here is the funny part of a recent exchange between me and Huston Texas via E-mail.

Veteran Thompson, we have scheduled two medical appoints for you on 5 May 2018. The first one is in Malate Manila at 1130 (11 AM) (Assuming I’ll be in and out of there on time. Then I’m to ziggy over to Quezon City and get to the second appointment at 1600 (4 PM)

Will this be a problem for you? I responded that if I had a helicopter I think I could make it on time.

They came back and moved my morning appointment to 0900 (9 AM) I answered her and cheerfully told her I would give it a try. By the way, I did make it to both places on time. The first one confused me as I was scheduled for a PFT, my initials are PFT (Paul Francis (Xavier) Thompson, the “X” is seldom used. But I found out they meant Pulmonary Function Test, my bad! The second was an audio test for my bad hearing, once more I flunked it.

As much as I dislike traveling to Mega Manila, as with any large city, I grew up in Boston but could drive to an MTA Station, park my car on the cheap and take the subway to anyplace in the city. If Manila had that it would be a nice trip. Singapore has proven there is no need to own a car there.

But go to Manila I must, and I’ll say it one time again: “I’d rather take an ass whooping from a very large man than go to Manila. I have another appoint on Clark Duty-Free, but that is only 45 minutes away from my house on the Subic Clark Tarlac Highway. The Philippine Adventure is truly never-ending.

So now all these appointments have been accomplished and the information sent back to Huston Texas for determination and evaluation of my claim. Only the Lord knows how long this will take, and he/she) hasn’t contacted me yet.

I’ll wait and see, if I receive a negative response, I’ll smile and re-apply.

Posted in ,

Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson; has resided in the Philippines since 1993, living close to Subic Bay. I’m married to a wonderful girl named Maria (AKA Mayang).Who is from Gordon Heights in Olongapo where she grew up with her Mom & Dad and seven siblings Our two daughters are both grown up and have left the nest, the eldest married to a wonderful guy named Chris, and they have blessed us with our granddaughter Heather Colleen Our youngest daughter and her husband Cecil have blessed us with a grandson named. Jayden Logan. I’m a retired U.S. NAVY Senior Chief after 22 years of active duty. After retirement from the Navy I lived for 7 years in Puerto Rico as a Night Club owner. Then Hurricane Hugo told me to find a new line of work, I was hired by Military Sealift Command and went back to sea in Asia as a Merchant Seaman for 10 years. After 30 plus years at sea I buried my anchor on a mountain in the Philippines and am now residing in Dinalupihan (or DinBat for short), Roosevelt, Bataan where we built our home. And last but not least, anything I writes will be pure "Tongue in Cheek "If anybody is offended, I'll lose no sleep over it, but here's a quick Mea Culpa in advance!

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Gary
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Gary

There is no reason you should not get benefits that you deserve. They made the rules and you should apply and get what you can. God knows there are many who abuse the system and make it very hard for the deserving to get what is legally theirs. Good luck and Godspeed on that Paul! I have been trying to deal with Social Security. It seems the US Embassy doesn’t exist in Manila anymore. I sent 3 emails to SS before they answered. And it is about somebody, I think, committing fraud in my name (it’s a long story). They… Read more »

Bob Martin
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You were owed those benefits, Paul. You earned them. Good that you applied.

Dan Finn
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Dan Finn

But you do have a lot of money and could have paid for your own medical. Congrats on getting the benefits you were owed but if they would not give them to you, you still had the resources to deal with any medical issues thru private health care which is cheap here (assuming you have Phil health for foreigners) correct?

Luke Tynan
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Luke Tynan

Pauk, Good luck…

John Reyes
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John Reyes

Hi Paul – Once more, here is Mr. know-it-all dispatching unsolicited advices, so please bear with me if you can. As one who has been receiving a VA monthly compensation for life for a service-connected disability that started from the time the movie, “Patton”, first came out, I am shock to learn about your difficulties in your dealings with the VA. Just a bit of a background about my experience with the VA relating to filing for benefits and receiving them. I had none. No experience whatsoever in filing for benefits with the VA. The VA checks started appearing in… Read more »

PapaDuck
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PapaDuck

Paul,
It sounds like you are finally going to get the benefits that you richly deserve. Just like living in the Philippines, i guess you just have to be patient and wait for the process to be completed. It’s all worth it though as it’s for Mayang’s future.

José
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José

Mr. Paul T. Good to know you applied for VA compensation. The VA has changed a lot ( not completely outstanding but now staffed by qualified personnel and good doctors.) Like you, I stayed away from the VA because of bad experience. Many years ago they treated us Vietnam veterans like we are a burden. I remember visiting a friend at the VA in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was not known then but he was suffering from what is now known as PTSD. The VA let the sheriff served him his divorce papers from his wife while he was… Read more »

anthony bosetti
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anthony bosetti

i love the way you express your self paul.:)

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