After 57-years of Fighting the VA, Korean War Veteran finally gets Compensated for Cold Weather Injuries

This story has been re-published and edited from my Archived Stories for informational purposes, and to prove to everyone how the VA endeavors to screw Veterans who incur injury and/or disease while in Service out of their due and lawful Service-Connected Disability Compensation. It also proves that the major Veterans Organizations Claims Representatives are not doing the best possible job they should and could be doing in representing Veterans…

by Terry Richards

Why did it take Terry Richards, a low-income Veterans Rights Advocate “to get the ball rolling” to get this Korean War Veteran his Service-Connected Disability rather than the wealthy major Veterans Organizations who handled his Claim but could not get him a dime in Compensation.

THE RESEARCH I DID, AND THE STORY I WROTE IN THE FORMAT OF A BRIEF FOR JIM TAYLOR TO TAKE TO HIS CONGRESSMAN AND HOW I GOT THE BALL ROLLING

PRESS RELEASE

September 05, 2009

VETERANS CORNER

BY

TERRY   RICHARDS

_____________________________

UPDATE ON

The Terry Richards’ “National Campaign Rally for Disabled Korean War Veteran Jim Taylor to persuade VA to Grant Him Service-Connection… “Helping One Veteran At-A-Time”

also known as

THE JIM TAYLOR STORY

JIM WAS FINALLY AWARDED A 100% VA SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITY RATING RETROACTIVE TO 1999, AND JIM’S FIRST VA RETROACTIVE CHECK WAS $264,000

Unfortunately, due to Unethical Plagiarism and Unprofessional Journalism Conduct by WFTS ABC Action News and their Reporter Jackie Callaway, they did not give me recognition to me even though not only provided them with the story but was responsible for getting the ball rolling for Jim Taylor to ultimately get his VA Disability Compensation.

WHAT THIS STORY IS REALLY ALL ABOUT & THE FULL RECOGNITION OF THE HUMAN FACTORS THAT MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR JIM TAYLOR TO HAVE A VERY HAPPY ENDING TO HIS STORY

This story is about how Terry Richards, a poverty-level income Disabled Vietnam Era Veteran and self-taught Veterans Rights Advocate, and Jackie Callaway, a local ABC television network Consumer Reporter, and John Roche, a former Veterans Service Officer for the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and an Author on how to win VA claims, all played an equal integral part in helping 79-year-old Disabled Korean War Veteran Jim Taylor who was living on poverty-level income win his VA claim for his severe cold-weather injuries he incurred while in Combat in the Korean war because the Army failed to supply him and his fellow soldiers with the proper cold weather clothing and gear, and gave him something to live for…

After 57-years of fighting the VA, on or about May 11, 2009, 79-year-old Jim Taylor’s battle for proper compensation for his severe cold weather injuries incurred during combat in the Korean War, ended happily with the VA awarding him 100% TDIU (Total Disability Based Upon Individual Unemployability) retroactive to 1999, thus Jim’s first check was $264,000.

Jim told me that getting all that money and now being able to live much better then he was gave him something to live for. I told Jim that I hope he lives until he’s 110 so the VA will have to pay him $2700+ per month for the next 31-years. Jim who had been living in an old broken down 30-year-old trailer in a trailer park and driving an old “clunker” went out and purchased a 2500 square foot house and a 2006 Cadillac, all for cash. I also told Jim to make sure he saved enough money for that steak dinner that I made him promise he would buy me if we won the claim big time…

RECOGNITION OF THE HUMAN FACTORS THAT MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR JIM TO PREVAIL

TERRY RICHARDS (Me) a Vietnam Era Veteran, 60-years old, Veterans Rights Advocate since 1990, former Volunteer Managing Editor of the Veterans Free Press Internet Newspaper from 1998-2001, a non-service connected Disabled Veteran who currently lives on a poverty-level income of $985 per month from social security disability and a partial VA non-service connected disability pension and still helps Veterans on his “own dime” without any donations from anyone by taking $30-$40 per month out of my already low-income monthly household budget, and who in this case GOT THE BALL ROLLING by spending over 20 hours writing this story and piecing together the chronological and supporting evidence to incontrovertibly prove Jim’s case, which by the way, none of the numerous and highly-paid and supposedly highly-trained Veterans Services Officers from several different Veterans Service Organizations and the State of Florida could not accomplish in the previous 54-years of handling Jim’s claim.

Writers Note: Why Jim’s case was special to me and why I went all out for Jim. It was an act of compassion. Jim heard about my assisting Veterans from my Veterans Corner website. Jim called me and then mailed me his documents, and after I read them, it became obvious to me that the VA was “hanging Jim out to dry” by intentionally and “unlawfully delaying and denying” Jims claim, a standard operating procedure to frustrate Veterans in further appealing their claims, especially older Veterans like Jim whom they hope will die before their appeal is GRANTED by the CAVC (Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims), a non-VA entity.

Moreover, at that time Jim was 76-years old and living in that old broken down 30-year old trailer which he told me was especially difficult to heat in the winter and which adversely affected his Osteoarthritis cold-weather injuries. Jims Social Security Retirement and partial VA non-service connected disability Pension was exactly the same as mine, $881 per month at the time. So I knew first hand how difficult it was to live on such little money so I felt empathy and compassion for Jim, especially since he was 19-years older than me and having to live so inhumanely when he as so obviously entitled to at least 50% service-connected disability compensation for Osteoarthritis according to the Veterans Benefit Manual. So when Jim told me about his 100% award, I cried.

 Finally, there was justice for Jim and that’s why as you will read when you page-down to the Original Story that I spent over 20-hours on researching and writing Jim’s claim and about another 20-hours over the next 3-years following commiserating with Jim over the telephone. To date, I have never met Jim Taylor; I have only talked to him on the telephone.

JACKIE CALLAWAY: WFTS ABC Action News Consumer Reporter Channel -11 on cable located in Tampa, Florida. As you will read, Jackie’s intervention in contacting Jim’s Congressman Michael Bilirakis played a vital role in this case as it led to John Roche, the experienced VA claims agent who took-over Jim’s case. Additionally, Jackie saved Jim $66,000 in Attorney fees because had Jackie not made the Bilirakis connection which led to the Roche connections, my next strategy for Jim was to find an Attorney to represent Jim Before the Court of Appeal For Veterans Claims (CAVC), whom using my supporting evidence incontrovertibly proving Jim’s claim, as well as his own knowledge and strategies, more likely than not would have also prevailed at the CAVC for the same 100% disability rating. The only difference being is that Jim would have had to pay the attorney 25% (set by federal law) of his first retroactive checks of $264,000 which amounts to $66,000. So I think Jim owes Jackie a steak dinner too…

JOHN ROCHE: John Roche is a Korean and Vietnam War Veteran who was an Air Force bomber pilot during these wars and retired as a Major. John worked for the VA in a desk job for 3-years after being discharged from service and then for 13-years for the State of Florida Department of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Service Officer helping Veterans with their VA claims and has also written several books on how to win VA claims. John was ultimately responsible for Jim being awarded a 10% rating in 2008 by representing Jim at a Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) Hearing, and later on in the Appeal which brought Jim a 100% VA Rating for service-connected disability in 2009, which is currently about $2700 per month for a single Veteran. So I think Jim owes John a steak dinner too…

Finally, because of “THE HUMAN FACTOR” Jim can now live like “human being” and as I told Jackie on the phone, we all played an equal and integral part in helping Jim prevail, and no more or no less than any other person in this scenario…”

I spent over 20 hours writing this story and piecing together the chronological and supporting evidence to incontrovertibly prove Jim’s case to the VA, as well as talking to Jim, the news media, Congressman Bilirakis’ office, and others. Now that Jim has been awarded his claim, I can say it was all worth while.

ABC Action News who after receiving a call from me and copy of my story about Jim contacted both the VA and Jim’s then Congressman Gus Bilirakis’ office as to the injustice of Jim being denied his service-connected claim for cold weather injuries during the Korean War when it was well-documented. Unfortunately, Jim’s claim was still denied one more time.

John Roche a former employee of retired Congressman Gus Bilirakis and experienced Veterans Service Representative who later successfully helped Jim with his claim by using my chronological and evidentiary investigative report set forth below.

In June of 2007, Jim received confirmation from the St. Petersburg, Florida VA Regional Office that his claim had been granted for 10% service-connected disability compensation for cold weather injuries during the Korean War. Although understandably Jim was not happy with such low compensation, especially since one of his fellow war buddies who served in the same outfit as Jim received 100% for the same injuries after filing in another State. I told Jim it was a start and that he should keep filing Appeals for more compensation. And John Roche is also assisting Jim with that. So thanks again to John Roche.

It should also be noted that once Veterans receive an award letter they normally get their retroactive and/or first payments within 60-days of that letter. But Jim did not receive his first payments or his retroactive payment of $5,200 until December of 2007 which was approximately 180 days later. THAT INJUSTICE SHOULD BE DULY NOTED by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Members of Congress, and the news media. The VA needs to stop playing games with Veterans’ lives. Especially low-income Veterans like Jim Taylor.

Originally written in about February of 2006

VA CONTINUES TO UNLAWFULLY DENY A 75 YEAR OLD KOREAN WAR VETERAN’S PROVEN CLAIM FOR 54 YEARS EVEN AFTER VA DOCTORS SAY HIS INJURIES ARE SERVICE-Connected.

Although her intervention did not result in the VA Awarding Jim Service-Connection, special thanks still goes to Jackie Callaway of Channel 28 ABC Action News in Tampa Bay Florida whom after I contacted her, intervened on behalf of Jim Taylor by contacting the VA to review Jim’s claim once again.

THE RESEARCH I DID AND THE STORY I WROTE IN THE FORMAT OF A BRIEF FOR JIM TAYLOR TO TAKE TO HIS CONGRESSMAN

Simply put, and paraphrasing Title 38, Section 1154(b) of United States Code which is the Code of the Laws pertaining to Veterans Benefits, and of which subparagraph (b) pertains to Veterans who engaged in combat with the enemy (COMBAT VETERANS), the Law states in pertinent part that:

 The Secretary of Veterans Affairs “SHALL” resolve every reasonable doubt in favor of COMBAT VETERANS by accepting lay evidence (non-expert or non-professional evidence) or other evidence as sufficient proof of service-connection of any disease or injury alleged to have been incurred in or aggravated by military service, even if there is no official record of the injury or disease found in his or her military medical or administrative records, as long as it was consistent with the circumstances, conditions, or hardships of the COMBAT VETERANS’ military service.

Click onto the link below to see 38 U.S.C.S. Section 1154(a) and 1154 (b)http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode38/usc_sec_38_00001154—-000-.html

In a USA TODAY story published on May 25, 2001, Astronauts John Glenn and Wally Schirra, baseball legend Ted Williams, Sen. John Warner and U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel who all served in Korea, all agreed that it was a cold, cold war.

“The winter of 1950 was brutal. We were unprepared — wearing leather boots and camping outside,” says David Hackworth, the most decorated soldier in U.S. history. “No one who went through it didn’t have frostbite.” Click onto the link below to read the full story in USA TODAY. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/spotlight/2001-05-25-frostbite.htm

The winter of 1950 was the same winter that James P. “Jim” Taylor was fighting the enemy in Korea.

Jim Taylor, who is now 75, and living in Clearwater, Florida, is one of those Combat Veterans who incurred severe cold weather injury. In fact, Jim Taylor’s service military medical records reveal that on March 05, 1952 Taylor was diagnosed with “Early Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Right Knee” by a Military Physician.

On August 06, 1952, Jim Taylor filed his original claim for VA service-connected disability compensation for cold weather injury to his right knee but soon after that his claim was DENIED by the VA.

Taylor reopened his claim in 1999. And in a letter to Taylor dated February 09, 1999, the VA Regional Office in Buffalo New York verified that Taylor spent the winter of 1950 in Korea by advising Taylor that:

“We are attempting to verify your exposure to extremely cold temperatures while you were stationed in Korea from August 1950 to October 1951.”

 Unfortunately, Taylor’s Military Medical Service Records were destroyed along with millions of other Veterans’ records in a FIRE at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis on July 12, 1973.

However, on April 16, 1999, a VA Physician writes on Taylor’s Medical Record that:

“After examination and discussion with James Taylor, it is my opinion that his current right knee condition is secondary to a very long standing process consistent with injuries and/or exposure he sustained during the Korean War as a youth. This is supported by a diagnosis dated March 5, 1952 of Rheumatoid Arthritis. He was obviously having problems with the knee back then. With today’s x-rays, his disease is consistent with Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis. In hindsight the original diagnosis was wrong (meaning that he had Osteoarthritis rather than Rheumatoid Arthritis) – however (it) supported his claim that he has had knee problems since then.”

In a VA Statement in Support of Claim addressed to the VA and dated August 09, 2000, Derek H. Davey, Director of the Lewis County New York Veterans Service Agency and an Accredited American Legion Veterans Service Representative, wrote that Taylor’s condition is resultant from cold weather exposure and that DC (Disability Code) 7122 specifically lists Osteoarthritis as a residual to cold weather exposure. Davey also wrote in pertinent part that “This Veteran is a Documented Combat Veteran.”

Jim Taylor’s DD214 (separation from service document) states in the “Decorations” section that Taylor was awarded The Korean Service Medal with 5 Bronze Stars and that his Unit was awarded The Distinguished Unit Emblem. Yet, in a letter dated March 26, 2001 from Davey to Taylor, Davey states that the VA Regional Office in Buffalo never considered Taylor’s Combat Veteran stance pursuant to Section 1154(b) and therefore, denied Taylor’s claim.

Jim Taylor’s former Commanding Officer, Retired General Miller O. Perry, in a letter dated February 11, 2003, and February 28, 2005, and signed by Perry. CONFIRMED THE COMBAT STATUS and severity of the cold weather injuries suffered by his Soldiers he commanded.

Yet, with all of Taylor’s documentation and evidence which far exceeds what Section 1154(b) requires, and the VA’s knowledge of events, as well as the public testimony from the above named well-known personalities who personally experienced the severe cold weather in Korea, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the last 53 years has denied Taylor’s claim for service-connected disability compensation for Osteoarthritis.

When Taylor moved to Florida, his claim was transferred to the St. Petersburg, Florida VA Regional Office (VARO).

IN A STATEMENT OF THE CASE dated August 16, 2000, the St. Petersburg VARO admits that:

In March 1952 Taylor was assessed as having early rheumatoid arthritis of the right knee;

(2) That records dated in 1998 indicate a long-standing history of Osteoarthritis which could be related to cold exposure.

In a RATING DECISION dated July 16, 2002, the St. Petersburg VARO admits that:

VA examination dated June 21, 2002 notes Osteodegenerative arthritis. He provided the opinion that his Osteodegenerative Arthritis and associated lumbosacral strain are more likely than not due to your cold injury experience in service;

WRITER’S NOTE: After all of the above evidence and other documentation provided by Taylor, Taylor’s Military and VA Doctors and Veterans Service Representatives, Taylor’s Commanding Officer, as well as the knowledge VA has about the War from News Media accounts, Military Historical Documents, and personal testimony of well-known personalities who are Korean War Veterans, THE DECISION MADE BY THE VA you are about to read in Paragraph 2 set forth below, is JUST UNBELIEVABLE TO ME, as I am sure it will be to you…

(2) You state that under 38 USC 1154(b) you are a documented combat veteran. A review of your personnel records fail to show evidence which would concede that you are a combat veteran. Although you received a Korean Service Medal w/5 Bronze Stars, this award does not concede combat status. Therefore, we cannot consider your claim under 38 USC 1154(b).

Even without the relaxed requirements under 1154(b) for Combat Veterans, and even if Taylor was not a Combat Veteran, the evidence that Taylor has presented the VA is sufficient to Grant Taylor service-connection for his cold weather injury.

UPDATE

On January 12, 2006, the VA scheduled Taylor for a Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam. Taylor reported that the VA Physician who performed the exam “barely examined” him and never identified himself with his name or title.

Taylor stated that the examiner talked more about how Taylor could not prove that he was in “Cold Weather” which is not his job to prove or disprove. He is only suppose to examine Jim and give his Medical Opinion.

In a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) dated 01-24-06, the VA once again “denied” Jim Taylor his claim for service-connection.

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