Over a week later I received a letter from Disabled American Veterans (DAV) stating simply that, “Service connection for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is denied” That was it. No review of anything. No consideration of the multiple combat deployments as a Ranger medic. No review of symptoms. No questions about my sleep patterns or hallucinations. Just a big ‘ol, “fuck you Sgt. Jenkins, thanks for playing the game.”
Like most of my brothers, I am pouring yet another stiff drink in hopes that it helps me fall asleep tonight. I am doing something that the psych doc at the VA told me is not a good way of handling the situation. I am ‘self-medicating with whiskey. Why? Because Jameson helps a lot more than the VA.
As Americans, we can individually vent our frustrations on social media outlets and write letters to our elected representatives, but that is simply not enough. An organization like the Department of Veteran Affairs has no incentive to change and thus will not do so unless forced to. To state it simply we can no longer put our faith in the VA. They have failed us terribly.
As we have done in the past, we must look out for our own. There are countless organizations that provide aid to veterans in need. If you work for or know of an organization that helps veterans I implore you to leave a comment with their capabilities and contact information. We are in the process of building a comprehensive network of veterans helping veterans. Although the VA doesn’t seem to have an issue with it, we do not know how to leave a man behind. It is up to us to speak out, it is up to us to come to the aid of our own. It is up to you to help those who have secured your freedoms!
*Author’s Note- If it seems confusing that I had several Doctors at the VA medical center confirm, without a doubt, that I have PTSD and then receive a letter stating that my claim was denied it is because they are two separate entities. The place where veterans go to seek treatment is a separate entity from VA benefits and entitlements. So even though the VA has, on multiple occasions, with multiple doctors, confirmed that I do in fact have Post Traumatic Stress, I was flat out denied by the part of the VA claims department (Despite having submitted proof of every aspect of those claims with service write-ups) without having so much as a minute in front of a real person during the claims process. There is little, if any, communication between the two.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on June 27, 2014.
Leo Jenkins is a homeless combat vet. After 230 credits he hasn’t finished college yet. From firefighter EMT to the life a Ranger leads. He’s been a medic in Afghanistan as well as Iraq and hasn’t met a pint of beer he won’t attack. A fighter and runner… a swimmer and a lover. A competitive exerciser and free will admirer. His pen is dipped in the ink of allegory and he won’t hesitate to tell his story. Five continents and 31 countries this year alone, he lives his life like a rolling stone.