How to Read Your VA Rating Decision

September 15, 2010

The day has finally come. Your claim is over and you have received notification from the VA of the decision. With a little luck you were granted benfits. Either way, approval or denial, you need to know what to look for and how to read your rating decision. I will give you a quick run down of what you are reading in your decision and what is important about all the information.


This section reflects your peacetime or wartime era. It lists what branch of service you were in and your service dates. It also states what type of claim you filed; initial claim, reopened claim, NOD/DRO decision or BVA Appeal.


This section lists in numerical order ALL the conditions that you requested service connection for. It also states for each condition whether you were granted service connection or were denied. If you were granted service connection it gives the rating percentage and the date that you initially filed this claim. This date is called your “effective date.” This effective date is the date that the VA will be paying you backpay on your grant of claim. Please check the effective date and make sure it is the date that you filed your claim and is correct. You could be lossing money if the date is incorrect.


This section lists ALL the evidence that the VA used to determine the grant or denial of your claim. Very important—-you need to read this list and make sure that EVERYTHING you sent to the VA or gave to your Service Officer is listed here. Remember the VA is dealing with thousands of claims and an important piece of evidence you submited may not have gotten to your claim file and gone “missing.” This missing evidence may have been the one piece of evidence that would have granted your benefit. If it is not listed in this evidence section, then VA never used it as evidence.


This section lists for each item in you claim the reason for the grant of benefit or the reason for denial. READ this section. It will tell you why you denied or approved. If it was something as simple as you didn’t supply a completed form and you were denied the benefit, you would simply have to get the completed form to VA for a possible grant of the benefit. What is also important about this section is that for each condition for which you were granted service connection, VA tells you what percentage they assigned AND they must tell you what the NEXT HIGHER RATING for that condition is. Read what the next higher rating percentage is. You may already be at that level and VA errored and gave you a lower rating. If nothing else, the next higher rating information lets you know for future reference that if your condition worsens to this level you need to apply for an increase.

I hope this information has been helpful. Prior to seeing your Service Officer for an increase in your granted conditions read your last decision and see what the criteria is for the higher rating. See your doctor and get “medical evidence” from them (statement, records) to show that you meet the new, higher criteria. Take that information to your Service Officer and file for an increase.

Until next time,

Julie Hensler, NSO
Military Order of the Purple Heart

Tony Rose Interview

September 10, 2010

We have posted a very special podcast for you today. Please take a small piece of your day and listen to our interview with Sgt. Major Tony Rose. Sgt. Major Tony Rose is a 9/11 Pentagon survivor. He is a Purple Heart recipient and has been awarded the Army Soldier’s Medal of Heroism. Click the link below and listen as Tony shares some of his stories from Vietnam and his experience while in the Pentagon during the 9/11 attacks.

Click here to view the podcast page.

Updates all around!

September 8, 2010

I hope that all of you are following the site and checking back often. So many people contribute to the site and have put so much into all of their blogs and websites. Please read and respond with questions or nice comments. It means so much to them and to me personally.

I am so excited about our “Young Patriot” she is doing so much to educate the students at the school and is having Sgt Major Tony Rose, a 9/11 Pentagon Survivor as a speaker at the assembly on the 10th of September. What an experience these students will have. He is truly a man of honor and humbleness with an awesome message.

We just completed our 2nd Pod Cast and it is on Veterans Galleria also. Please, if you have not listened to these, choose one a week, get caught up and then stay in touch with the podcasts. Our 2nd is Sherman Jones who survived the Sunchon Tunnel Massacre, a battle in Korea. This is the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War and we wanted them to know this was not a “forgotten war.”

Hey, I just love Brad Jones, he is the second “Awesome Possum.” He is the one behind the scenes that makes sure everything and I mean every single thing on our site is there, perfect, full of ideas, patience, and double checking to make sure that things are as accurate as possible. THANK YOU BRAD!!

I must talk about the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. It is November 10th and we are so excited about the event. Our guest speaker is Col. Jim Sims, Marine (ret) and has so many credentials and the word is out that he is a Marines Marine so we are sure everyone is going to have a great time again this year. At our head table will be Lt General Jerry Boykin, Army (ret) and so many dignitaries that I know all of the attendees are really going to have chances to talk to so many people.

Our Facebook Page is great we are getting between 500 – 700 hits a week on the site, so thank you so much and also don’t forget to join the page. The person to be the 500th person to join the page will receive an autographed picture of Tony Orlando and Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Oak Tree.

Our dates are established for the Purple Heart Event April 28, 29, 30, 2011.

I created a Veterans Galleria Display here at Branson Tourism Center, 220 Branson Hills Parkway, Branson, MO. It has things many people have given Larry and myself. Memories that we wanted to share with you when you come to Branson. We will soon have a display case for our Challenge Coins. You are all so special and don’t you dare forget it. I am always up to something and I want to make things “neato mosquito” for you. When I put something in the case or get an idea, remember that these are all a part of who you are.

Remember Veterans Week in Branson is November 5-11, 2010. Many, Many things going on…go to and check out the schedule.

Information and Criteria on DSM IV, PTSD

September 1, 2010

Hello Everyone,

Just a short note to give you information on DSM IV, PTSD Criteria. This information in very helpful in a DIAGNOSIS of PTSD as we all know, you can NOT take a blood test and come back with a diagnosis of PTSD as you would for diabetes. PTSD is a subjective diagnosis, meaning your diagnosis is based on criteria NOT physical testing.

When you are scheduled for a Compensation and Pension examination the examiner will be using this criteria to help evaluate you to see if you “fit” and can be diagnosed with PTSD.

First you have to have been involved in combat or experienced a life threatening incident that would have caused your PTSD. Examples of combat would be; IED blast, direct combat, mortar attack. Examples of a life threatening experience would be; witnessing death and carnage, military sexual trauma, death incidents as in accidents, suicides and such. 

Second you must meet certain criteria that comes out of the DSM IV diagnostic manual. From the manual in the B section you must have experienced 1 example.  From the C section you must have experienced 3 examples and from the D section you must have experienced 2 examples.  Below is the B, C, and D sections for you to review and see if you fit the profile.

  • B-1  Do you think about the event when you do not want to? Do thoughts about it come to you suddenly when you do not want them to?
  • B-2  Do you have nightmares about the event?
  • B-3  Do you act or feel as though you were back in the situation?
  • B-4  Do you get very upset when something reminds you of the event?
  • B-5  Do you get physical symptoms when something reminds you of the event  heart racing, breathing heavy. Sweating?
  • C-1  Since the event, have you avoided thinking or talking about it?
  • C-2  Have you stayed away from things or people that remind you of the event?
  • C-3  Do you have trouble remembering important parts of the event?
  • C-4  Have you been less interested in doing things that you used to enjoy?
  • C-5  Have you felt distant or cut off from others?
  • C-6  Do you feel numb or lack postive feelings?
  • C-7  Do you have difficulty planning for the future?
  • D-1  Do you have difficulty sleeping
  • D-2  Have you been more irritable or angry?
  • D-3  Have you had difficulty concentrating?
  • D-4  Are you watchful or always on guard?
  • D-5  Are you easily startled?

In closing, remain focused at your C&P exam and if the examiner does not ask you about these things listed above make sure YOU TELL them what symptoms from above you are experiencing. 

ALSO after your exam go to your Release of Information section in the hospital and tell them you just completed a C&P exam and you would like to sign a release to get a copy of the exam. This may take 2-3 weeks, but they will mail you a copy of the exam. This will give you a good indication of what your diagnosis from the exam was. You can also request previous C&P exams if your in an appeal or disagreement to see what the examiner said about you.

Juliana Hensler
National Service Officer
Military Order of the Purple Heart

Young Patriot - Blog #4

August 31, 2010

As most of you may have heard on the news or through a friend or family member, the war in Iraq is over. But there are a few things you must remember.

First off, only the combat troops have moved out, the peace keepers are still overseas and still need our support. In fact, around 50,000 troops are still in Iraq.

Secondly, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are two separate wars. Just because Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, it does not mean that Operation Enduring Freedom is over. It is actually still going very strong and is at one of its worst points since it began.

Lastly, as you celebrate the soldiers’ homecoming, whether you know a soldier or not, please keep those whose friends and family members have not come home yet in your prayers and thoughts. They may not be home because they were killed in action or they are still serving our great country.

Total Amount of U.S. Casualties in Iraq as of 8-18-10 (the “official” end of Operation Iraqi Freedom) – 4,400 (one soldier in Iraq has been killed since 8/18 bringing the total to 4,401)

On another note, Branson Junior High School will be having their Annual Character Camp on Friday, September 10th. New this year will be the Character Walk at the BJHS track and football field from noon until 2:00pm. Students will have the option to pay a five dollar participation fee to get them out of school for the afternoon. At the Character Walk, students will walk the track and participate in various activities. The Tyler Project will be providing military backpacks for students to “Walk a Lap in Honor of Our Soldiers” while carrying the weighted down backpacks on their backs.

The Tyler Project is excited to present Sgt. Major Tony Rose as the guest speaker during the Character Walk. Sgt. Maj. Tony Rose is a 9-11 Pentagon survivor. Among his many awards, he is a Purple Heart recipient and he received the Army Soldier’s Medal of Heroism for going back into the burning Pentagon five times to save the lives of his fellow soldiers and civilian employees. Sgt. Maj. Rose will be speaking about his love of his country, his flag and about patriotism.

The Character Walk is open to the public; we just ask that you also pay the five dollar fee that will be split among all clubs at BJHS. The Tyler Project will be using their portion to help cover shipping costs for their shipments to our overseas soldiers. Sgt. Maj. Tony Rose will be speaking at 1:00pm. It will be awesome and we are all very excited. If you have any questions about the Character Walk you can email me at

Until my next blog,

Young Patriot

Number of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by US Central Command as of 8-29-10: 5,633

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