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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Rug Is Pulled Out From Under Us (Again)

Today we were up and out at 6:15 am (why is it so dark out at that time) and headed for what we thought was going to be some definite progress towards getting my disability claim with the Veterans Administration finally wrapped up.

Alas, it was not to be.  You’d think that I’d be used to this, but I guess we had our hopes up too high.

My ongoing struggle with the VA Regional Office in Columbia, SC has now entered the 29th month with no resolution.  I need two MRIs to complete all my examinations and then the paperwork would be sent on for review and a final determination.

On the advice of a VA patient representative, the fastest way to get the MRIs done was to make an appointment with my primary care physician and have her schedule the MRIs.  The plan was then to take the results to the VA administrative side that handles the disability claims and have it put in my file to be forwarded on for the final review.

I have to stop here to define the two sides of the VA.  The medical side where I’ve been able to get treatment has been nothing short of outstanding.  The doctors and nurses are some of the best I’ve ever had in my life.  They are a real credit to the VA health care system.

On the administrative side, the VA representatives that handle and process disability claims are nothing short of abominable.  After over a dozen in person visits with them as well as a number of phone calls and paperwork submissions, I’ve found that all these people do is tell you what they can’t do for you and offer no help whatsoever. 

Now back to today, my doctor cannot get involved in any disability claims and is not allowed to schedule the MRIs like the patient rep said.  Instead she is going to schedule me for therapy on my knees to see if that will help with the issues.  Now we’re going to have to remain in the South Carolina area for an undetermined amount of time while that goes on. 

I was able to get signed in to an online VA website today so I can track what is going on with my claim.  After wandering around, I got some answers, none of which I was very happy with.

According to the website, my claim is still in the “Gathering Evidence” phase.  There is a completion date assigned to it.  It will have to be completed between 5 May 2014 and 30 November 2014

And the big kicker?  My package and all the involved paperwork for my claim has been transferred to the VA Regional Office in Atlanta, Georgia!  That office is now handling all the backlogged claims over a year old from the Columbia, SC VA Regional Office.

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If I need to fill out any additional administrative paperwork or meet with a VA rep, I’ll now have to drive 3-4 hours to get there.  Thankfully, at least, the therapy sessions will still be at the VA Hospital in Columbia, SC, about 1 1/2 hours from where we’re staying with our workamping job at the COE.

This puts us in another “lock down” mode, limiting our travels for the next year.  We still are planning to go to Missouri (April) and New Jersey (August) for the births of our two new grandkids, but plans for heading out West will be put on a “wait and see” list.  We’ll probably be confined to the East Coast for the duration until this sorts out.

On one hand, I feel like chucking the whole thing and just forgetting about it.


On the other hand, I’m a fighter and don’t give up easily.  I can see why so many veterans give up with the VA, or choose not to get involved with them in the first place. 

So we’re pretty bummed, feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under us again.  But we got a little something today that brightened us up.  A picture of our granddaughter Anabelle up in New Jersey helping her daddy make our family’s favorite cookie bar recipe.


That helped us keep our focus on the really important things in life.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Recycling Christmas Trees

It’s a little quiet here at the J. Strom Thurmond COE right now.  Many of the park rangers are on some well deserved holiday vacations and most of the volunteers here are just enjoying some time off.

We’ve been relaxing as well, enjoying some Christmas movies we taped on our DVR and reading on our Kindles.  Marti has been playing her video games, too.  Who said video games are just for kids?

However, we’re getting a little itchy to go back to work.  We’ve had so much fun doing the wide variety of jobs here and we’re looking forward to some new tasks, although we have plenty of areas still needing boundary lines and survey pin verifications done.

Upcoming tasks for us are some school visits to discuss water safety with the kids, a program the COE runs every year.  A video and a collection of life jackets are the items that are used to help kids understand the need for caution around the water.  The COE even provides loaner life jackets at the swimming areas at Thurmond lake.


One major program that is done annually here is recycling Christmas Trees.  Many communities use wood chippers to grind up the trees into mulch. 


Not here, the COE collects the trees, attaches weights to them and then places the trees in certain spots in the lake to provide cover and sanctuary for fish breeding.  Small fish can live and grow in the safety of the trees and increase the fish population.

I’m looking forward to this process.  It will be a new experience starting after the first of the year.  Good for the fish, good for the environment and good for me to get some exercise and work off some of those Christmas treats.


  I didn’t eat too many…honest!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Wreckage Of Christmas



We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at our grandson’s house.  When the boys were sent to bed on Christmas Eve, our daughter Heather gave them strict instructions not to get out of bed before 7:00 am.  At exactly 7:01 I had Owie jumping up and down on my chest trying to wake me up and drag Marti and me downstairs to open presents.  Don’t think Owie was too excited…


The boys tore into the piles of presents under the tree.



Even their mom, Heather enjoyed opening gifts.


Dad, Brian stood there in shock, watching how fast all the careful gift wrappings were destroyed in such short order.


Some new tablets for the boys.  Heather looked over the instructions to get them set up.


Santa didn’t forget Mimi Marti.  Some new Nintendo games to feed her video game addiction.


After breakfast, war broke out.  The boys played their new electronic Battleship game.  Fortunately, no holes were shot through the kitchen table.


We missed seeing our granddaughters in New Jersey and Missouri.  But through modern technology, we Skyped with them.  Little Rebekah (in MO) here is trying out her new chair made of giant Lego blocks.


Today, 26 December is granddaughter Taylor’s eighth birthday.  Again, the Skype was turned on and we got to watch her open another pile of presents, this time in birthday wrapping paper.


A birthday hug for Taylor from her sister Kierra.


We wish we could be everywhere at once, but with our kids and grandkids living all over the country, we’re glad to have the Journey to be able to visit them throughout the year. 

This year, we’re still tied to South Carolina due to waiting for completion of my disability claim appointments at the Veterans Hospital.  A VA patient advocate has looked into my now 28 month long unresolved claim and has given us a work around to hopefully get the last two tests done. 

I have an appointment with a VA doctor on 30 December to get her to review my knee and shoulder problems and get me scheduled for MRIs to complete my claim.  As to when those  MRI appointments will happen, who knows, but it seems that there is a possibility that I’ll get them done early next year.  We’re hopeful.  That would be a great, after Christmas present.

We’re thankful for all the many blessings we have and our fulltime RV life.  It always works out for the best, but at times, the holiday season can wear us old folks out.  But then, looks like we’re not the only ones that can use a nap!  :c)


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Monday, December 23, 2013

It’s That Time Of Year Again

Just a few smiles and laughs for your Christmas celebration.

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To all our friends, fellow RVers, followers and readers: