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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.
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.
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 »
Gary: Most people I’ve spoke with have high praize for the folks at SSA in Manila. You are the first I’ve heard this from, but then it is unusual and I’ll guess they needed to kick it upstairs. I’ll wager it is the upstairs who have not responded. Check with Manila again and check on your request. I waited 32 years to file a claim, even though it is legit, but it is only for my wife I did it because of the hassel. The word “Praize” above I think is spelled wrong, but spellcheck told me 3 times it… Read more »
Here a few years ago I was on that wagon too. But you know we had a change of Ambassador and that seems to have something to do with it. Help for better or for worse was very prompt. Over the last year, I have had nothing but wait any time I have had to deal with them. And anything ‘fraud’ should be taken care of immediately before it gets out of hand. I think I have it stopped but there is some damage done.
I never bothered finding out who the ambassador was, as the permanent employees seem to be there after each flies away.
It was like that on ship’s, we’ve got a new skipper coming! Oh how nice. (LOL)
Yes, I understand what you are saying but from the last time to this time that I needed help, all the names so far have changed. I have a new child and I get benefits to help there. My child is almost 3 months now (born March 11) and I have not heard a single word from them since the initial contact which I gave them an answer on March 21. I got information that somebody is telling another person how to get money from my social security. I have evidence they have tried but to get this money requires… Read more »
Praise the Lord and Mr. Ford! 😉
You were owed those benefits, Paul. You earned them. Good that you applied.
I agree but if not for my wife I wouldn’t bother dealing with it, a sharp stick in the eye is more fun than dealing with a bunch of US Government bureaucratic yaHoo’s. But she deserves it so I’ll march forward to complete my goal Kinda of like Don Quixote my life’s hero.(LOL)
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?
Dan; Because I served over 20 years in the US Navy it provides me a basic health insurance that can be used here in the Philippines, It is not perfect but better than nothing. I find it wise to keep a “Get out of dodge fund” to evacuate me or my wife to Singapore, Guam, Thailand or Japan where the Military (Tri-Care) insurance works easier. But so far it has worked well with only a few hiccups. I have emergency funds to to protect me, but why deplete my funds that I have saved over the years when my Government… Read more »
Pauk, Good luck…
Sailors have a tried and true expression that works well for us. On board ship’s, luck is like water…We make our own! (LOL)
Thank you Sir:
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 »
John; My hearing loss was caused by very large guns 3”50 5” and one cute little twin 44 anti aircraft gun from 1964 until 1975 (No ships after that). The reason I did not file 32 years ago was I wanted the merchant seaman’s job at six figures a year so I stayed away from the VA to not disqualify myself. Sir I would like to apply for this sea going job, will my VA claims affect me? The Asbestos I just found about, the hearing was degenerate over 40 years traced back to shooting guns without being afforded proper… Read more »
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.
As my priest always told me you must process the patients of Job, that bible dude that caught hell and stuck with the plan.As my president often says; “Wait and see.” (LOL)
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 »
There are some horror stories from the VA, but some great stories too.
The leaders ask: “Go fight for us and the big corporations and we will take care of you”
.When congress got to the point where very few served in the military is when the VA went down hill.
Very true but I would say that the VA has improved a lot in the last 30 years. Incidentally, I met a guy originally from Mashpee but now lives in Singapore and goes to the VA in Manila. This guy is real crusty former USN but he has nothing but praises for the care that he gets from the VA there.
From Mashpee to Singapore, now that is a stretch… I’ve been there and the entering and leaving sign were on the same post. (LOL) But I spent all my summers in South Yarmouth close to Dennisport, pretty small places, but in the fall I was back in the largest section of Boston, DORCHESTER which was a city while Boston was still a town.
I can’t speak to VA medical care as a retiree I don’t use the VA until approved.
i love the way you express your self paul.:)
If I was more careful with how I expressed myself when in the Navy, I might have received that last promotion. (LOL)