Thank you for your service (Now give us some money)

Dan ArpOpinion

You don’t have to spend money to get the benefits you are entitled to due to your military service.

Fifty plus years ago, I was in the U.S. Navy. I was one of the lucky ones. Viet Nam was going on but I spent my enlistment on the East Coast and in the Mediterranean.

A few years ago, my GP said that at my age, I should have a chest X-ray. The radiologist discovered something that indicated I should have a follow-up CAT scan 12 months from then. A year later I had the scan. I was already diagnosed with COPD. The radiologist asked if I had ever worked with asbestos. For most of my time in the Navy I used asbestos in my work.

Accordingly, I decided to apply for VA disability, it seemed my COPD was a service-connected disease. It took some time to learn and work through the system. I enlisted the services of the Tennessee Department of Veteran Services. I can’t say enough about the professionalism afforded to me by my representative.

After some months and testing, I was awarded a disability rating and back disability pay to the time I first applied. Thus far, my cost was zero.

Now I find that I may be entitled to additional compensation for medical conditions that are “secondary” to my service-connected disability. I’m working on that with the same representative from the Tennessee Department of Veteran Services.

I say all this because I see so many ads on Facebook, YouTube and all over the media for organizations offering to help veterans get disability benefits – for a fee. Guess what. You don’t need to fork over money to these people.

If you Google VA disability, you are likely to be overwhelmed with offerings from law firms. Don’t bite.

Go to and spend time cruising the site. You can call the VA and tell them your situation and get advice. Call Tennessee Department of Veteran Services. Make an appointment with a representative. They will be happy to look at your individual situation and advise you. You may have a claim.

To contact them, call 615-741-2345. They will direct you to the office nearest you.

There is another entity that will help you as well, at no cost. That’s DAV – Disabled American Veterans. You can contact them initially at 931-762-8256.

Both these agencies will evaluate your situation. If you want either of them to be your representative, you will then appoint one to help make your case with the VA.

On the front end It can seem overwhelming, but hey, if I can get through it anyone can.

And thank you for your service.

Dan Arp is retired and lives in Heiskell.


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