Some background on me, I spent 5 years active duty Army and left active duty in 2006. In 2009 I joined the Army National Guard and am still serving in that aspect. Deployed to Afghanistan once and Iraq twice. When I left active duty I was "Mr. Tough Guy" and made no disability claims at all because I was young and stupid (still am). I was pretty burnt out and just wanted to get out and do my own thing. I was really of the mindset that only someone with a severe injury should claim. Mostly after seeing all the BS claims that some people got and raped the system with. Well now it's coming back to bite me in the ass. My ankle was broken overseas. Not under fire at the time and of no direct action of the enemy so no Purple Heart warranted or anything like that. Simply took a bad spill and my ankle got the best of it.
Fast forward to now, the same ankle is causing some pretty good pain while I run. I'm not the type who goes to sick call (stupid I know) and gets shit checked out so there's really not much in my records other than the initial injury. I'm just curious if it's even possible or worth trying to start a claim now. My hearing is also shot, but I've heard trying to claim that is a worthless battle that will get denied anyway. My main concern is that if this ankle is bothering me now, how is it going to be 20-30 years from now? I know the pain I have now is from the injury because it has always kind of been there since the injury but just a lot more recently.
We are getting ready to deploy again. I don't know whether I should just tough it out and wait until I get back from that deployment to try to get a claim or start the process now. I'm not looking to get any disability payments out of the deal, I could really care less about that and rather that money go to someone worse off than me. I'm more concerned with being covered for any future surgery or something I may need.
Well, lets hear the good, bad, and ugly. What are my chances? Cut my losses and invest in better healthcare or fight it out? Any of you guys tried to make a claim 5 or more years after leaving active duty?
Go ahead and claim it...all they can possibly do is say "no", which they will from the start. If you can get your med records from that time when the injury occurred, that would help. Persistence is the key, if you have to get your congresscritter involved, by all means do so. That's what he gets paid $160K + a year to do. Hearing losses are easily documented, take a current hearing exam and it will show up. I have tinninitus (? on spelling? from 14 yrs in SF as a weapons/engineer, but have never persued a claim. Been retired now over 8 years and deal with it. If the ankle bothers you, go on sick call...don't make it worse. Hope this helps.
I don't think you're eligible for VA services if you're still in. You're in the Guard? Call the Army Wounded Warrior Program, if it's anything like the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment, they'll have folks who can tell you what's what. At the very least, I would think you could go to a .mil doc and get your ankle/hearing looked at and possibly start the whole IDES/PEB routine.
As far as VA disability, you sure as fuck can get hearing considered! This ain't your daddy's VA anymore; hearing probs are huge amongst this generation and the VA has finally recognized it - especially if you're not 80yrs old but some 20-30yr old w/combat time under his belt! Just make sure you get everything documented and keep copies!
File for it. If you have copies of the medical report you're good –– if not you have to prove it happened while in service (not necessarily in action).
You are NOT trying to get over on the system –– if it happened while you were in uniform it is compensation for having something broken or got an Owie.
Legitimate claims are all good but I agree with OP there are way too many taking advantage of the system, it is veteran welfare! I love my fellow veterans but really hate this abuse.
Claim it, even if you get a zero rating it will be on the record as service connected. Service connected= eligible for treatment at a VA clinic(for that specific injury/ disability) It may not matter now but when Mr. Tough Guy hits 40 and it turns out he needs all sorts of ortho surgery to fix that crap so he can walk it will be a relief to not have to worry about that financial burden.
Try to claim it. Problem is, if you didn't file the claim within a year of seperating from Active duty, YOU have to prove your claim rather than the VA. Having solid medical evidence helps. More medical SOAP notes are taken more serious than just one SOAP note. Its an uphill battle with the VA, I filed my claim Nov '10 and its still in process...