Many of us Veterans have already applied for, and are
either collecting benefits or have been rejected by the Veterans
There's a ton of War Stories relating to the Vietnam
Veterans Experience with the VA, my story is in its early stages and ongoing.
I was wounded on (3) separate occasions and am a Bronze
Star recipient. When I was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1968, I went to
the VA Office in my home town and registered, I received a letter a couple of
months later informing me that I was a disabled Veteran, however my disability
rating was less than 10%, therefore I did not qualify for benefits.
I let this lay dormant for 38 years until I hooked up with
Frank Pavone, Frank was a machinegunner with Lima 3/3 and Frank and I were
Frank Pavone was one of only couple of other grunts who I
came to be close to in Vietnam. Frank and I hit it off from the beginning.
I was transferred into Lima Company 3/3 on 6 October 1965
as a transplacement, having originally been deployed with Golf 2/9 on 3 July
When Frank first met me, he mumbled six words, six words
that most of heard at one point in out tour, usually within a day or so of
landing in country,
“Oh No, Another Fucking New Guy”.
I had been in country for four months by this point, and
my response to this was direct and to the point,
“Ya, I’m a Fucking New Guy with
a Bronze Star, Mutha Fucker”
This set Frank back for a moment, and then a smile came
across his face, we were close friends from that point on.
Frank and I lost touch after Vietnam, both going our
separate ways and not making contact, or even trying to make contact, I guess
this is typical; most of us have tried to bury our memories of that time.
Frank found my web site a couple of years ago, and emailed
me a short note with a photo taken of us in front of Battalion HQ on hill 55, it
was like time stood still, there he was, there I was, and the emotions started
We exchanged emails, phone calls, and this past February
Frank and his wife Joann came to Florida for a week, and we hung out at the pool
bar telling non stop war stories, filling in a ton of holes in the old memory
Frank came back to Florida in late April and we went to
the Vietnam Veterans Reunion in Melbourne together, we camped out for 5 days and
hung out with a ton of old Grunts, It was one of the most invigorating
experiences I have ever had.
It was during this time that Frank asked me why I had not
been to the VA to collect my Benefits, as it turns out Frank has a 100%
disability for PTSD, most all based on his experience during Operation Harvest
Moon on 9 December 1965, the operation where I received my first Purple Heart.
From Frank’s prospective this was a very good question,
considering we both had received the Bronze Starr, one of the Stressors that the
VA uses to rate PTSD, and considering my multiple Purple Hearts, Frank couldn’t
understand why I wasn’t yet rated.
Frank and I talked about this off and on for several days.
I wasn’t willing to admit that I had PTSD; I looked at PTSD as a weakness and
was in major denial.
Frank was doing his best to convince me to go to the VA
and apply for the benefits I rightfully deserved, and after a week living in tent
together, he had me convinced that I had everything to gain and nothing to
When we returned back to my place after the reunion, Frank
was explaining to me the process, he mentioned that the VA would issue me a C
Number (Case Number) this jogged my memory, I remembered that I had a paper ID
card that the VA sent me, and this card indicated that I was a disabled Veteran
and it had a Case number on it or at least a number that began with the letter
I went to my fireproof strong box to look for it, but it
wasn’t there, I looked all over for it, I knew I didn’t toss it, Where I found
it was most interesting, It was in my wallet.
Well this little card turns out to be worth a lot more
than the paper it was printed on.
I actually opened my case on 21 September 1968, and was
Frank has been working with Veterans ever since he became
100%, what Frank does is help with the filing process, and where Frank shines is on the appeals issues, to date he is batting 1000%, having never lost a
case, and he has been responsible for some very large settlements where back
compensation is concerned.
So Frank tells me that the VA owes me all the way back to
1968, some 38 years of back pay, and my next step is to go to the VA and reopen my case.
I went to Tennessee to Visit Frank back in August, and at
that time, I still hadn’t gone in to the VA, I guess I was still having a little denial
While in Tennessee Frank showed me a Movie titled “Article
This is an excellent movie, produced in 1992, and is all
about the VA and the problems that many Vietnam Veterans have experienced with
I recommend everyone who hasn’t yet seen this movie, buy
or rent it; it’s a real good flick.
There is a primary character in this movie who’s name is
Luther, Luther is a wheelchair bound, Vietnam Veteran who is somewhat of an icon
and a go-to guy between the medical staff and the other Veterans.
Luther has his wheel chair done up with patches and flags,
he’s dressed in army fatigues, leather Vest and Jungle hat.
I loved this flick, and it was instrumental in motivating
me to get off my ass and go reopen my case, which I immediately did upon my
return home from Franks place.
Now the VA in general, isn’t as bad as it was when this
movie was produced, but it still has its problems.
I didn’t have any real problems when I went in, the staff
was very helpful and when I went to Eligibility, I was welcomed with open arms
and told that because of my Purple Hearts, I was entitled to life long, free
During my interview with my VA Rep, he was the first one to bring
up PTSD, Frank was right all along.
I’m still going through the process, and because of my
upcoming move to Tennessee; I had to put the claim on hold until I get set up
there. The good news, I am going to get rated and Frank will be instrumental in
helping me with this and obtaining my back pay.
Before I end this and get it posted, I will leave you with
this little tidbit,
My first trip to the VA was a farce; those guys out right
Fucked me. Some two years after I was discharged, I had a friend who was
receiving a small pension for Jungle Rot between his toes, and he never saw any combat – go
My second trip to the VA, 38 years later was very
different, I was treated with respect and was left with the feeling that the
staff had a genuine desire to help.
But what was most impressionable was the first Veteran I
saw when I walked through the doors of the VA clinic here in Orlando.
It was a real life Luther; Wheelchair and all. Only this
Luther was a Marine, a C/1/9 Walking Dead Vet, missing both legs. His wheel
chair was decorated, he was wearing a jungle shirt, jungle hat and leather vest with all the
patches and even his medals, he looked like Luther and he talked like Luther.
And here I was actually living the movie “Article 99”
Ya got to see this flick to understand what I just said.
And if you are having problems with the VA, contact
FrnkPavone@3rdMarines.net he may be able to help.
P.S. if you don’t know what Article 99 really is, watch the movie
and pay attention.