“My love of Country inspired me to join the military”. “I watched my friends go off to basic training that made me feel I needed to do my part”. The military could give me access to a college education”. Whatever reason got you in a US military uniform it didn't give you any notion what would happen once your service to Our Country would begin or how it would end.
Your length of service, assigned duties, rank or areas stationed were the furthermost things on your mind the day you decided to join the military. Pride, excitement, dedication and commitment were all that mattered when your career began.
The journey from the induction center to basic training followed by specific job skill training readied you for that first assignment. How many years and assignments later would leave you at the threshold of the Department of Veterans Affairs? Finally, you're a veteran. A new journey in an unknown territory begins the day you leave the service. This journey is intended to address all of your quality of life issues. Somehow things became confusing and very difficult almost immediately following submitting the claim for benefits.
Maria, a single mother came to FVA seeking assistance with her veteran status which was a barrier to her receiving any benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs. She was told that her contract for 24 months of active duty had not been completed. Maria was released by the US Marine Corp forty-one (41) days short of the full contract period. The USMC decided to separate Maria early claiming she had a personality disorder. This action by the Corp to use a mental health issue for her early discharge was to conceal the fact Maria was being punished for being several months pregnant and the victim of Military Sexual Trauma.
Maria never had any problems during her active duty service time. She had been deployed to Iraq twice with her unit between 2007 and 2009. Maria's service record was outstanding. Her situation was worse than expected. She was homeless, abused, single mother of two young boys with special needs.
FVA became Maria's lone positive resource. Founder/Executive Director Michelle Weiss developed a specific plan that addressed each of Maria's needs. The first major step of the plan was to get a correct diagnosis of Maria's mental health condition. It was determined that Maria was suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Military Sexual Trauma. This examination formed the basis for obtaining the veteran status Maria was denied since leaving the USMC. Mental health treatment would have to wait until Maria's claim was submitted and accepted by the VA.
Maria's life changed completely during the ninety (90) days following her claim being accepted by the VA. She was able to begin much needed treatment for the PTSD/MST and her physical conditions. This major quality of life change made Maria's situation of living in the shelter with her children a bit easier. Director Weiss' plan included permanent housing and employment. Maria made full use of all of the resources available at FVA.
The most important quality of life change came when Maria received her rating decision from the VA. She was determined to be seventy (70) percent disabled. This decision allowed Maria to receive a HUD/VASH voucher for housing. FVA wasted no time in securing a two bedroom apartment near a school in a safe neighborhood for her. Several weeks following moving into the apartment Maria found a job.
Maria found to assistance and life skill tools needed to take control of her situation which had been severely damaged by unjust behavior by the USMC at FVA. All of her benefits were available without any restrictions including her Post 9/11 GI Bill so she could develop her plan for the future and proper special needs care for her children.
We all hope that our most personal information is being protected. It is not uncommon for a former spouse, irate family member or identity thief to attempt to access your VA file information. There is a way to control all access to your file by completing one simple form.
The VAF 21-0845, The Authorization To Disclose Personal Information To A Third Party, will prevent anyone from obtaining any information related to you and your VA file. This form is available on line at VA Forms. It is a one page document that allows you to have control regardless of how hard someone tries to get your personal information.