I’ve been reading these blogs for a while now and I understand the frustration some may be going through. I came home from Vietnam with very bad PTSD, have been in private treatment since 1969. I was an alcoholic till I had my first child in 1971. There was no Veteran’s organization to treat me for years, just lived with it and was tormented on a daily basis.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma and had my spleen removed. My oncologist said it was more than likely from Agent Orange exposure and I should contact VA to see if I would be able to get compensation. He said he would give me copies of all medical records to verify the claim and suggested I apply for PTSD. I was very skeptical and didn’t want to file, but he said I was entitled and that he has treated and been successful in getting benefits for other Vets with the same condition.
My spleen was removed in June 2009 and I applied for benefits April 2011 for PTSD, Lymphoma, and for un-employability. A month later, I heard from the VA and went for a battery of tests including psychological. In August of 2011, I received notice that I was going to receive a 70 percent disability for PTSD, and that my claim for Lymphoma and un-employability was still being reviewed. I have to say that I was totally not prepared for the decision to happen so quickly, but it did. Then in January 2012, I received notice that I was moved to 80 percent disability because of the Lymphoma claim—again I was shocked. A month later I received another notice that I will be given 100 percent when my claim for un-employability is reviewed. I haven’t heard back yet, but based on the past decisions, I expect to receive the 100 percent. My benefits were awarded to me in August 2011, but I was retroactively paid from the date of the claim which was April, 2011.
I think that I was a lucky person to be given my benefits so soon—which was not expected. I also have to say that the people and doctors that I visited at VA were extremely concerned about me and were much more caring than I ever expected, especially from all the horror stories I heard about from other Vets. I did not have an attorney or a VA representative help me with the claim. I filled all the paper work out myself. I don’t know if that helped or not, but it seemed like they would have rather worked with the Vet directly rather than a Veterans advocate.
To all of you Vets, Vietnam or otherwise, please don’t give up. You are entitled if you were affected by the wars exposure. I should have filed in 1995, but I was walking and talking and alive and didn’t think I was entitled. Don’t make the same mistake as me—file your claim and get your benefits. You deserve them. It took me a long time to realize that. God bless and Semper Fi.
Nicholas Dalia served with Charlie Company 1/26 Marines as a machine gunner in Vietnam from 1966-1968. He worked in the hospitality industry all his life and is the father of four children. Dalia continues to go to counseling at his local VA clinic and is now retired.