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Finally, I'm a Vietnam Vet !


CrueDawg34
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Just a quick note: your CVSO (County Veterans Service Officer) is an employee of the county you reside in. He or she is not an employee of the federal or state government. However, as is the case with many CVSO's they are second career people and they may not be the most ambitious. That's a darn shame 'cause they work for you at the local level. The best CVSO I had here in Columbia Co. retired (she was really good) and the guy that took her place is not nearly as savvy. Hope it's just a matter of time before he settles in.

Anyway, the debate is, should you go through your CVSO or handle all the paper work yourself? I don't know the answer. I do know that you are your best advocate!!!!!!

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  • 9 months later...
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OK, quick update here...... I think I am making some progress now. Today the mailman brought me a DD-215 which adds the Vietnam Cross with palm leaf and the Vietnam Expeditionary Medal to my DD-214. Already had a Vietnam Service Medal on my DD-214, but that was not acceptable to the Veterans Administration as proof of "boots on the ground" in Vietnam. I had paperwork of my own and had copies from the records office in St. Louis. Have had the paperwork where the VSM and the VEM both came from the Squadron Awards and Decs office signed and dated. Had flight records showing well over 200 combat missions in Vietnam with more than 800 combat sorties. This was not proof for the VA. They would not even look at the paperwork I had from St. Louis nor any of the other piles of paperwork some of which included travel vouchers showing months on the ground at Ton Sun Nhut and other s**t holes in country. The VA just kept handing me a pile of papers that related to service with the Navy flying off of ships in the Tonkin Gulf. When I informed them that C-130s did not normally fly off of ships they said it didn't matter. If the correct information was not on the DD-214 or a DD-215 that I was not considered "boots on the ground", a term that I had never heard of before dealing with the Veterans Administration.

I tried going through the Veterans Service Office at the VA and then tried filing for corrected DD-214 through the County Veterans Service Office in my home county. A year or two went by and seemed to be getting nowhere. I wrote to the Member of the House of Representatives who serves my district and some things started happening. Had to fill out and send in a lot more requests and copies of paperwork, but slowly the requests worked their way through the maze of admin and different offices until I now have in my hands the DD-214 with a DD-215 correction to the original DD-214. I plan to take that to the admin office at the local VA tomorrow and try to get them to correct my VA status again ........ if they have not changed the rules again in the years it took me to get the corrections.

Tomorrow I take the DD-215 to admin office at the VA and if they do not accept as they said they would I have the phone number of the House of Representatives local office in my cell phone. The call will be made standing in the VA admin office.

The advice I have to other veterans or active duty is never throw away any paperwork and if the VA does not have your status correct start on it early and keep at it. I would not recommend even bothering with the VA Veteran Service Office. The people in there work for the same organization that the administrator who denied your claim works for. Some of the county veteran service offices might be better at getting results than mine was, but only by going through the local office of my member of the United States House of Representatives was I able to get the paperwork through. I will not put the name on this forum to avoid any political involvement, but my Representative will be getting a letter of thanks and any boost in the upcoming elections that I can give.

Always was a Vietnam Veteran to everyone except the Veterans Administration and maybe soon will be one to that bureaucratic entanglement.

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  • 2 months later...

Billy if you can see any sign in the picture saying it is somewhere in VN, that may be the clincher. A lot depends on the person handling your case. I hope you can find some paperwork putting you in county such as travel vouchers. Blanket orders don't work cause it don't prove you actually went TDY. Send the form in like I told about in this very first post. They found in my records an APR from my flight chief that says I had completed so many days TDY in country for that reporting period. My letter from them said THAT, proved boots on the ground. Good luck. Bill

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Maybe the pictures will help, but the VA is not going to take them. Maybe some VA locations are different, but the VA here would only consider it if you had a VEM or a Vietnam Cross on your DD-214. They wouldn't even look at any of the supporting paperwork. They didn't want to see travel vouchers or anything else. You have to go through the Air Force records review and get a DD-215 which is a modification of the DD-214 before the VA is happy. When you request old records that were stored on paper and have to be scanned in for digital records St. Louis is not real helpful or fast.

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Thanks for the quick response. This aircraft accident had a major investigation. How can I find accident reports. We were hauling Cambodians from training in Nah Trang to Bien Hoa where the tire explosion and fire happened. We were moving them from Phnom Penn to Nah trang then on to catch boats on the Mekong back to Cambodia.[ATTACH=CONFIG]4492[/ATTACH].

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Thanks for the quick response. This aircraft accident had a major investigation. How can I find accident reports. We were hauling Cambodians from training in Nah Trang to Bien Hoa where the tire explosion and fire happened. We were moving them from Phnom Penn to Nah trang then on to catch boats on the Mekong back to Cambodia..

Best thing you can use is probably the travel vouchers. They should have most of them in your records in St. Louis. Find a Veteran Service Officer and file a request for copies of anything that will support your claims. Your local VFW or American Legion post might have somebody to help you get the paperwork done. A VFW post Veteran Service Office helped my son get his claims through. It is always a lengthy process when you are dealing with government paperwork, so don't put off getting started on it.

St. Louis also had some of my Airman Performance Reports that had numbers of combat hours and numbers of combat sorties in the comments section on the back. There was several mentions of missions in country and landings in country in the comments section. The APRs are signed by your evaluating officer.

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Thanks, Graywolf..Records ordered and waiting to see what they hold. I am going to involve Steve Womack, my US Representative. There are so many of us that were stationed in Okanowa, Taiwon or Clark AFB that are all going through this same process. Maybe he can help with a shortcut in getting us our Vietnam recognition. His sister worked for me for 15 years.

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Thanks, Graywolf..Records ordered and waiting to see what they hold. I am going to involve Steve Womack, my US Representative. There are so many of us that were stationed in Okanowa, Taiwon or Clark AFB that are all going through this same process. Maybe he can help with a shortcut in getting us our Vietnam recognition. His sister worked for me for 15 years.

Yeah, good idea to get the Representative involved. Had to do that too. They assigned a constituent representative to help get the paperwork through. They know who to talk to to expedite the paperwork. Still takes a long time.

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  • 1 month later...

OK, here goes. Got my records from St Louis. It took right at 6 weeks. I found most of my travel vouchers. Documented stops at TSN, CRB and DAD...with most being 16 day trips to TSN. It had Performance reports as well stating number of combat missions and combat hours as a combat crew member. One APR mentioned the number of TDY days in the period.

One apr even talked about the explosion and PAX injuries in the picture I posted last month.... It said I went back into the burning aircraft to continue to evacuate the injured PAX...Funny, I only remember running real fast to the flight deck then off the plane...I made copies of all the records that mentioned Vietnam and will mail it to Randolph AFB tomorrow. I have one question.. I have a disability claim from agent orange to file. Should I wait for a DD215 indicating Vietnam service or file it using the Vouchers and performance reports...

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Congrats BRlang on getting your paperwork. The VA would not let me get on the Agent Orange register till I had the DD215 showing time in country. They also sent me a letter with the 215 and set of VN ribbons. I brought the 215 and letter to the Atlanta VA, they looked at them both and put me on the AO roster. Had to answer questions about where when and what outfit I was in in VN. Also gave a blood sample. I would think you would have to be on the register before filing an AO claim. Bill

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Just thought I'd throw in my 2cents worth. Every State is different as is every reviewer. Long time ago when I first started the claim process I asked the advocate at the VA Hospital in Madison WI. how I went about signing up for the AO register. I was asked if I had documented proof of Vietnam service. I did. I was told that as long as I had such documentation I did not need to sign up. I did not. I put in a total of close to two years from first claim to final adjudication. In my case here in Wisconsin, as long as I had that DD215 that documented Vietnam service and official VA medical Doctor case files stating "more probable than not service connected" it was just a matter of waiting my turn. In one conversation with a VA case reviewer he told me that I could send in all the paperwork I wanted, testimonies, pictures, anything I could dig up and all it would do is slow up my claim process. It is the medical evidence,(documented, paper evidence) of medical probability that they want.

Just thought I'd throw that in....

Chris

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just got accepted by my local VA in group 6. My first pass was rejected and put me in group 8 as my DD214 did not show Vietnam. They sent a letter asking for documentation that I was on the ground in Vietnam. I sent them several travel vouchers and my performance reports showing how many combat missions I flew and number of days TDY in country and they said that was enough proof and did not make me wait for a corrected 215...I guess it is up to your local VA as to what they will accept....Still waiting for the Airforce to correct my 214 but making a little headway.....I have an AO disability to file. I was told at the local VA that my records in the VA listed me as served in Vietnam.....I am hesitant about filling disability with out a corrected 214...Thoughts??

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By all means, file ASAP! Send along copy's of all official documents you have pertaining to "boots" and copy's of all medical documents that support your claim. Include a paragraph stating that you have filed a request for a DD215 and you will forward that as soon as you receive it.

It's hard to say how long it will take to process your claim and if they approve it they have to pay you back to the date you made your first claim, so it's important you get that claim filed. Good luck.....

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  • 1 month later...

I got notification from the Airforce in Randolph that I did serve in Vietnam. I furnished them with APRs from my Aircraft Commander that documented the number of TDY days and number of combat missions flown. I also sent them travel vouchers documenting my travel from CCK to TSN....Now if I can get my disability claim processed I can be a DAV....

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  • 4 weeks later...

To BRLang. Billy I just saw an article on vietnamairlift.com with the same picture of you standing in front of the damaged Herk with the blown tires. The website owner is Alan Baker. Do you remember him? He says he was the AC on that flight. This may be the contact you need to prove boots on the ground. (Update... , Billy ,just read your last post and it appears you have your proof of VN service. Anyway, funny to see the same pic that you posted on another site.) Bill

Edited by Spectre623
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I got notification from the Airforce in Randolph that I did serve in Vietnam. I furnished them with APRs from my Aircraft Commander that documented the number of TDY days and number of combat missions flown. I also sent them travel vouchers documenting my travel from CCK to TSN....Now if I can get my disability claim processed I can be a DAV....

Good deal! Congratulations on becoming an "official" Vietnam vet! I think you should probably go ahead and keep pushing for a corrected DD-215 even though that VA didn't require it. The VA is real bad about changing the rules in mid-stream.

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Bill, I exchanged some emails with Alan but he didn't tell me he was the A/C....WE capped a brake in Nah Trang...Upon landing in Bien Hoa the tire locked up and scrubbed through all the plies of the tire...The bald spot was on top and blew into the aircraft..We had Cambodians on board and had a few casualties..I had just come out of the wheel well and back up the ramp. We were doing engine running off load..I put my head set on and told the A/C that I didn't see anything and about that time it blew..Knocked me down..I ran out and saw we were on fire. I ran back through the PAX and got to the flight deck and told the crew we were on fire..They T-handled the engines..By the time we got the crew door opened the fire dept was blasting us with foam...Until I got my letter from randolph it never happened because I was' really there..

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Making progress...They accepted my documentation as 'boots on the ground" and scheduled me for examination for AO related condition. Also hearing test on the same day...Got a VA ID card and listed in group 6 for VA medical..Couldn't have done it without the suggestions and recommendations from others on this message board.. Thanks to all here...

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  • 3 weeks later...

The process is moving. Got hearing test today. and another at 1100 today. So far 5 months from filing to get exam and recommendation to compensation office... I was impressed with the Doctor. Very interested in explanation of engine running off loads and all the noise related to combat operations in a C-130...In 6 months I have two claims filed with VA and exams and Air force letter confirming "boots on the ground" My advice to all reading this is to assume that the VA people know NOTHING about aircraft or combat operations or the Air Force for that matter...

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