This wasn't any ordinary envelope. This was addressed to me personally. My hands started shaking. I slowly tore open the envelope and pulled out the two page letter inside.
In a nutshell, here is the what the letter said:
"The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) has reviewed the most recent VA Decision concerning your claim for benefits. A combined evaluation of 80 percent has been assigned as a result of the following action(s):
Entitlement to service connection for depression and right knee disability has been granted.
If satisfied with this decision, no further action is necessary. If you disagree with any part of this decision, you may file what is called a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) to initiate an appeal. Once you receive the official VA notification letter, you have one year from its date to file a NOD. The DAV may provide representation throughout this process. Prior to filing a NOD, we request that you contact your local DAV National Service Office."
It isn't the decision I was hoping for. I called the DAV Office because there was no mention of my request for 100% disability based on Individual Unemployability with Aid & Attendance. I talked to one of the service officers and he told me it had been disapproved. He did tell me that they gave me 30% service connection for depression and 10% service connection for my right knee.
I am surprisingly calm. Like I said, it wasn't the decision I was hoping for. However, I did win two small victories. I knew this was going to be a long battle. For now, I'm going to put this aside. I am leaving for California on Saturday. Terri & I are going on a long overdue vacation and we're going to have a damn good time visiting with family and friends.
When I return, then I'll deal with the rest of this VA claim. I have already contacted my pal Jim Strickland. He told me to forget about my claim for the time being. He told me to go to California and have a great time. When I get back, he'll tell me the next step. He'll help me prepare my appeal. He warned me this would happen, so it's not like I wasn't expecting this.
On Tuesday, September 15th, Terri and I are attending a taping of the Ellen DeGeneres Show. If you are my Facebook friend, we'll be posting the air date there. On Thursday, September 17th, we're attending a taping of the Bonnie Hunt Show. We'll also post the air date for that on Facebook.
Speaking of Ellen ... did you hear the big announcement? Ellen DeGeneres is going to replace Paula Abdul on American Idol! I love Ellen DeGeneres. I love American Idol. I think it's a perfect fit. So long, Paula.
I still have a lot to do today to get ready for my trip. I'll catch you all when I return. Thanks to all of you, Invisible Readers, for your support as I go through this battle against the VA. It means more to me than you will ever know.
Until the next time ....