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Searching for your Service Connection PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 13 May 2013 10:33

I’ve been assisting veterans with disability claims involving Social Security and VA since the 80’s.  There are a number of VA hospitals that specialize on both psychological disabilities, and alcohol and drug addiction; such as Coatesville, PA, Lebanon, PA, Perry Point, MD, and Martinsburg, WV, although physical conditions are treated at these facilities as well. Likewise, these medical facilities have long-term programs for the homeless and the addicted veterans. 

Addiction affects all of us. Addiction exacerbates psychiatric problems and causes great losses in the ability to maintain employment and sustain relationships with significant others and/or their families.  Many of these veterans have a criminal history as a result of activities involving sustaining their addiction; selling or driving while intoxicated.  Most veterans know another veteran or others who suffer from addiction problems. 

Social Security at one time recognized addiction as a disability, and then Congress decided it wasn’t a good idea in 1996 to pay for disability and would discourage recovery.  Congress changed the law.  Since 1996 an individual has to be disabled without any consideration of the addiction problem. 

The VA does recognize that individuals with service connected psychiatric disabilities self-medicate and even will grant service connection for disabilities which result in the self-medication of legal addictions such as alcohol.  Veterans receiving treatment from these VA facilities are at the end of the line in their life.  They need a fresh start.  Searching for that service connected disabilities sometimes is a way to get that fresh start.  At the same time, while helping veterans that have reached the bottom of their life as a result of addiction problems with service connection as a way to sustain their self; I talk about it with the veteran.  I point out that it doesn’t matter if you have ongoing income; your life will not improve unless you dig in and follow AA’s 12 step program to recover.  It’s a tough life to lose everything you cherish, have contempt or support orders against you, criminal charges against you, and/or being homeless.

Searching for service connection is helpful and the VA programs are helpful. The veteran has to do the rest of it himself. A life in VA facilities, prison or death due to addiction is not a life to be cherished.