Stall, Deny and Hope They Die – The Story of One Widow’s 19-Year Battle with the VA

Editor’s note: My friend Denise Caldon just informed she had finished a book she has been working on for many years. This is a heart-wrenching account that details a nearly two decade struggle against the intransigence of a giant federal bureaucracy. Having experienced my own battle to secure VA benefits for my deceased father who was also a war veteran, I am cognizant of how seemingly an insurmountable task it can be to ever secure the rightful benefits for a veteran. From voluminous and difficult to understand or fill-out forms, to long delays between responses; it truly seems they hope to just stall and delay you until you give up or die. Thank you Denise for sharing your story and I hope your book will assist many other families in their own struggles and help politicians finally fix the very broken Veteran’s Administration. This is an exceptionally well-written book I hope you will all read. –Alan Wood

Click here to buy Stall, Deny and Hope They Die” – The Story of One Widow’s 19-Year Battle with the VA on Amazon

By Denise Caldon

Stall Deny

Click image to buy book on Amazon

I am a Veteran’s Widow entering my 19th year fighting the VA Claims System. I used to pray for somebody to speak out, stand up and voice the concerns of so many Veterans and their families like ours. Then I realized….. I am somebody. derived from quote by Lily Tomlin, Actor

In January 1987, while living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and building our dream home my Husband, Jim, called “Camelot,” he was diagnosed with Stage IV, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. We were told he had two years to live. He lived for nine. Our children were just 2, 4 and 6 years old.

As a result of years of experimental chemotherapies, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and the emotional toll of his pending death, the children and I “lost” my Husband of sixteen years, their Father, emotionally, mentally and physically. I was advised by a Child Psychologist to remove our children from our North Carolina home for their safety and mine – which I did.

His death on 17 July 1996 was certified by the VA as “service-related due to exposure to a herbicide”…..Agent Orange.

When I filed for my VA DIC Spousal Benefits just a few months after his death, I was told a woman my Husband was living with, to whom he was never married, had already filed a few weeks earlier and was receiving my VA DIC Spousal Benefits.

When I brought this fraudulent VA Application to the VA Regional Office’s attention, their response was, “We have too many cases like yours. You will have to fight this with a private attorney.”

Due to this common and egregious error by the VA, this person has received my VA benefits for over eighteen years, while I raised our three young children as a single Mom and Widow.

I flew to Washington, D.C. in 2008 to attend a Hearing at the Board of Veterans Appeals. As I walked down the hall, the DAV representative said to me, “Denise, the VA will never admit the mistake they made in your VA DIC Spousal Benefits Claim as their admission would open a Pandora’s Box to countless other erroneous VA Spousal Benefits Claims. You do know what the VA’s unwritten policy is? The VA’s unwritten policy is, “Stall, Deny and Hope They Die.”

In September 2010 I won a rare “Joint Remand” from the U. S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Appeals, yet, the VA has done nothing more than simply move my VA file from one desk to another. Even with recent Congressional and national attention, the VA’s unwritten policy to “Stall, Deny and Hope They Die” is still in place.

For our Family, and so many others, because of the VA’s broken system, our Nation’s Wars are still being fought. For our family, the Vietnam War is not over……

My hope in sharing our family’s long battle with the VA Claims System is to encourage and assist thousands of other Veterans and their families to find the strength they, too, need to continue their own battles with the VA – as our family is doing still today.

We have learned to “Never, Never, Never Give Up” as “With GOD, all things are possible.”

Click here to buy Stall, Deny and Hope They Die” – The Story of One Widow’s 19-Year Battle with the VA on Amazon

You can watch a two part video Denise gave where she spoke about her book and the ordeal she faced fighting the VA below. Click in the playlist area to play part 2 of the video.

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fred pence
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I’ve been thru the same thing you have for the last 7 years. Its a ploy by the government because they don’t have the money to pay the veterans for their disabilities. They may look like they give money to va , but use it to fight other wars.

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