Monday, April 2, 2012

Marine calls fellow grunts to the fort to plan tactics

Caleb Duty, a U.S. Marine and multi-tour veteran of the Iraq War, filled out his claim for compensation and pension, and waited to hear from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He called once a month; then he waited some more.

And waited, called again, then waited some more.

“It finally got to where it was kind of an embarrassment, where it seemed like they were just waiting for me to give up.”

Then he found a savvy veterans service officer employed by McLennan County who helped him fill out his paperwork with the quality of answers the questions it takes for the VA to honor the evidence of disability required to perfect a claim.

It wasn't good enough for the combat grunt.
(click here to listen to the Director of the American Legion lay out the organization's plan for returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.)

He reverted to an old pattern. That's what he always did when he was a kid, even a high school student. You get a bunch of the guys together and camp out over the weekend on the family ranch near Robinson. That is how you thrash out your problems; you cut for the fort and talk it over, make your plans, devise a strategy and take the tactical approach that strategy indicates.

Get his fellow veterans together for a weekend of fun, sun, country music and cold brew.

But there he ran into a snag. The neighbors along the rural road protested his permit application. Traffic congestion could make it hard for ambulances and other emergency vehicles to get to homes along the route.

Fortunately, the gang found a place for the Moonlight Music Festival planned for May 25-27 at the Bosque Bottoms National Barbecue Cook-off grounds in Meridian. Billy Joe Shaver will headline dozens of country and western acts for the three day affair, tickets for which sell for $30 a head, plus camping or RV fees

But that's the point. The money will be used to help veterans thread the maze, find the solution, tackle the bureaucracy and find compensation and pension benefits, housing financing, educational benefits and continuing health care.

It's not easy. In fact, there is a an entire Title of the U.S. Code Annotated that deals with nothing other than Veterans Affairs.

That's where the American Legion comes in. With the help of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, the Legion educates hundreds of certified Veterans Services Officers to help veterans assemble the evidence and process the paperwork that it will take to convince a hearing officer and review board that he or she is eligible.
(click here to learn about NVLSP)

That's going to take money for training, books, materials, computers, internet hook-ups and transportation to and from Veterans Affairs Regional Offices such as the one at 701 Clay in Waco.

Caleb Duty envisions a system of American Legion and VFW Posts in which a designated member has the proper training and access to information it takes to help a veteran perfect a claim.


  1. Appalling that so many undeserving can receive welfare & medical care is set aside for illegals in this country. Our Veterans are promised so little in return for their sacrifices for ALL OF US. They,(veterans & their families), should not have to fight to receive what they have earned. This is an embarrassment to me & it should be to EVERYONE n this country. We not only owe them our gratitude & respect, we owe them the benefits they were promised. IMHO!

  2. Okay, then, send Capt. Moonlight some money, buy some tickets, and make sure your local American Legion Post or V.F.W. has the National Veterans Legal Services Plan correspondence course on how to obtain VA benefits, as well as the Code of Federal Regulations for the title of U.S. Code that contains the laws on Veterans Affairs.

    You can get the whole thing on DVD, so a used computer from the Goodwill Computer Works would be very, very helpful. Total cost: $300-$500. How many disabled vets will benefit? As many as our man with the plan can contact, help to get 1) a complete set of their military records, including service medical records, and 2) the attention of a knowledgeable, trained Veterans Service Officer to help him shepherd the paperwork through the process.

    I have literally seen amputees standing in line on a prosthesis built by the government with a government serial number on it while the VA says they have no adequate evidence that they lost that limb or arm or hand or eye or whatever they are missing while in harm's way on a military mission for the U.S. Armed Forces. This is serious business, and no one here is exaggerating the dimensions of the problem.

    I am totally sincere. - The Legendary p.s. Thank you for reading this story and taking an interest. The address of the Moonlight Music Festival is on the website that is linked to the story. - T.L.

  3. Thank you for the story. I hope that each of your followers on this blog will purchase at least 1 ticket. I know I will. I won't go, but I will purchase the ticket..too loud and I don't do well in crowds of people, but this is a truly worthy cause, it's money well spent. I'm sure someone will want to go in my place. I'll keep in mind about the computer & save for it. Only for $300-500, I'll bypass the used & save for them a new laptop or notebook to use. Just bought my son one for college. My Dad, brother, sister & nephew have served or is in Military Service now. Just had my A/C unit outside replaced by McNamara Custom Services & an ex Marine was the service man, shook his hand and gave him our thanks, he teared up. Anyway, thanks for the extra info on way to help & be involved.