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WHEN OTHERS TURN AWAY, VFW ENSURES JUSTICE

"All he cared about was that his wife would be taken care of ..."

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Daniel Crocker, Veterans Service Office Director, VFW Department of Michigan

Vietnam veteran Jarod White (name changed for privacy) heard the call of duty loud and clear. Between 1965 and 1975, he served in three military branches: Marines, Navy and Air Force. Injuries sustained during Vietnam earned him the Purple Heart.

Years later, he was in the thick of a different battle—and losing. This fight was in convincing the VA to award him full benefits.

By the time VFW Michigan Veterans Service Office Director Daniel Crocker met White, he was ailing from diabetes, heart disease and PTSD. He was physically and emotionally exhausted from years of trying to get the VA to properly acknowledge his illnesses.

White had tried everything … filed claims himself … written letters to every government official he could think of … even sought the help of a variety of veterans’ service organizations.

But very little ever came through. He was rated 10% disabled due to PTSD, and 20% for diabetes.

In 2004, White reached out to VFW.

“The first time I looked at his file, I thought there is something really wrong here,” explained Crocker.

Crocker immediately filed a claim for White’s heart disease, noting it was a condition secondary to his service-connected diabetes. The claim was granted at 10%. In the months that followed, VFW effectively argued it should be rated at 30%.

But then White’s health began failing fast.

“He told me he felt the VA was waiting for him to die before awarding benefits,” said Crocker. “At that point, all he cared about was that his wife would be taken care of. I assured him I would see this battle through.”

On October 9, 2009, White passed away.

Just one month later, the VA announced that Ischemic Heart Disease would be added to the list of presumptive conditions secondary to herbicides exposure in Vietnam.

Crocker was determined that White would receive justice, even in death. He helped White’s widow receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) in July of 2010. Problem was, the VA made no mention of the heart disease, which should have factored into the rating.

Crocker effectively argued that case and, in August of 2010, the VA elevated White’s rating. As a result, White’s widow received a sizable retroactive payment that improved her quality of life immensely.

The case still continues to this day. Crocker is now fighting for Individual Unemployability benefits, as an accrued amount, based on service-connected conditions. 

“Knowing what this veteran went through and the roadblocks he faced, I’m going to make sure his widow gets every last dime to which she is entitled. That was my pledge to Jarod,” concluded Crocker.

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